13.02.2003 Feature Article

Why Ghanaian Journalists Are Silent

Why Ghanaian Journalists Are Silent
13.02.2003 LISTEN

The NDC government lost face in the eyes of many Ghanaians during its last years in office due to the high level of corruption and arrogance exhibited by some of its top officials. Journalists in Ghana, therefore, seized the opportunity in lambasting the NDC government, giving its party a bad name and finally hanging it during the 2000 elections. The way the press executed the job gave many Ghanaians a high sense of hope that journalists in Ghana have indeed finally arrived and that no government in Ghana can ever again take the country for granted and go scot-free. It is important to note that, at the time the press was kicking the NDC and Rawlings around, it was all praises for the NPP and its leader JA Kuffour. Top journalists came out to portray the NPP with super accolades and made many Ghanaians believe that JA Kuffour holds the magic wand to turn the economy of the country around. I remember reading a report by Kwaku Sakyi-Addo to the BBC that NPP men were all “self-made” men who unlike the NDC men will not dip their hands into the country’s coffers. Harrunah Atta was seen dancing around JA Kuffour even before he was sworn into office, amidst sycophantic words like “Here comes my president, here comes my president.” There were also Kwaku Baako and the non-neutral GJA president friend of mine, Gifty Affenyi-Dadzie, who all saw the NPP government as the redeeming party and showered and continue to shower their partisan praises on. Now two years into the NPP administration, Ghanaians have suddenly woken up to the realization that not all that glitter is gold. That some NPP government officials that Ghanaians held in high esteem are taking the country on a roller coaster, lining their pockets just as some officials of NDC did. Ghanaians have also began to realize that President Kuffour lacks control of his own political party and has no clue as to the problems confronting Ghana. In this NPP era, people are not able to exercise their constitutional rights to demonstrate since to demonstrate publicly could be regarded as an attempt to undermine Ghana’s new cherished democracy. This statement came from Freddie, the Convention Peoples’ Party (CPP) MP for Ellembelle. If this statement is true, then the so-called Kum Me Preko demonstration did in fact undermine Ghana’s democracy during the NDC era. Students who hailed the coming of the NPP to power were given the rudest shock when they demonstrated to press home their demands for better conditions. They were simply told by the same NPP government they hailed to shut up and go back to their campuses to concentrate on their books. All these unfolding incidents are prompting a lot of Ghanaians to question why the press is unable to ask the NPP government, why it has failed in delivering the tons of promises to restructure the economy. If anything, conditions are rather worsening at a faster pace. It is therefore the responsibility of the press, to draw the attention of the NPP government to its failed promises, and their pursuit of policies that are never going to help Ghana. Remember the NPP government is in the middle of its four-year term. Every Ghanaian is looking up to the press to remind the Kuffour administration that resorting to blatant lies and outright arrogance as simply exhibited by the NDC will not help the party but rather earn the mistrust of the electorate. Some NPP ministers unhappy about criticisms against the government have occasionally walked off from radio and television stations while live interviews are still being broadcast. Many Ghanaians are looking up to Kwaku Baakos, Sakyi-Addos, Gifty Affenyi-Dadzies and Harrunah Attas to tell the NPP government that they have no justification in increasing the petroleum prices by almost 100%, when they have not informed Ghanaians what they did with the money they raised from the 60% upward adjustment in petroleum prices when they took office. Ghanaians are crying out for journalists who will not sacrifice their conscience for their stomach sake, but will rise up and ask the Kuffour administration to tell Ghanaians when its so-called job creation plan will take off, to help reduce the mounting unemployment rate in Ghana. People are seeking answers from the NPP government concerning the decline of Ghana Airways. Even when the military guy, Rawlings, was in power, he managed to keep the airline flying on regular basis. Why is the press silent and unable to ask the government for answers on this important issue? Ghana Telecom has been in the news every single day since this administration took office. It seems President Kuffour is bent on kicking out the Malaysians even though he keeps on traveling every week to seek the illusive investments for Ghana. Kicking out investors will prevent other investors from coming to Ghana. The Ghanaian public is here again looking at the media, to press this administration to do the right thing in the interest of the country. The people are not looking for a press that “do not see nor hear any evil” when it comes to the Kuffour administration. This crop of journalists notably Kwaku Baako virtually tour all radio stations everyday to defend the government. Presently, there is a quest for a robust press to question the NPP government, to explain to Ghanaians why it keeps silencing its critics by either hauling them to the BNI offices or releasing negative information about them. I remember Nana Akuffo Addo, Hackman and others, then in opposition, accusing the NDC government of wasting government funds by appointing so many ministers without portfolio. It is very easy to point accusing fingers at your neighbor when you are on the other side of the fence. Otherwise, how come that the NPP has appointed so many special assistants at every ministry who are being paid with hard earned foreign currency of between $2000 to $5000 monthly for doing practically nothing. And many senior journalists who would have jumped on the throat of the NDC government if they had done that are extremely silent. Shame on you! Shame! Shame! Shame! And the press is yet again caught with its pants down as it continues to keep silent on issues like: why a substantive minister of interior has not been appointed almost a year after Mr. Alhassan Yakubu, the minister resigned? Again why is it that the president’s brother has been acting in addition to being the minister of defense ever since? Is Kuffour telling Ghanaians that there is no one qualified for that position? You wait and see; his brother will act till 2004 come. I could not help holding my jaw when I read in the news on January 28 a report headlined “JAK saved Ivorien peace talks - Presidential Advisor.” This Kwabena Agyepong is causing more harm to Kuffour than what Elizabeth Ohene did. The very first day that I heard about his appointment I said how on earth can a sports commentator advice a whole president. What sort of diplomacy does this guy bring to the table? Kwabena Agyepong’s utterances have proved me right. He has been constantly saying things that he later turns round to correct. What presidential advisor will tell the press intimate conversations between the president and another world leader? If Kuffour saved the peace talks in Ivory Coast by talking to Mr. Ouattara, so what? If President Kuffour’s intention is to reward the memory of a lawyer friend who was murdered, by appointing his son as an advisor, then he made a terrible choice. In American politics Kwabena Agyepong would have been referred to as a ‘bozo” (somebody who is undiplomatic and does not have a curious political mind). Still other Ghanaians are wondering why NPP officials after committing series of blunders will come out with their chests out to justify them by simply saying, “But the NDC did the same thing.” I believe the NPP and NDC are two separate parties. Therefore, if the NPP is bent on justifying any mistake or corruption that its members commit by saying that the past NDC government also did the same thing, then I am afraid there is no difference between the two parties. And the NDC might have as well stayed in power. One of the reasons why the press in Ghana has kept quiet in the face of series of blunders and corruption on the part of NPP officials is that, the press has been seriously disappointed beyond belief by the actions of the NPP government they openly supported during the 2000 elections. The press gave the NDC government a bad name and hanged it hoping that the NPP government would bring fresh air and accountability to politics in Ghana. But the opposite is the situation today. How does this same press that reacted negatively towards the past government and hailed the NPP now turn its back on the NPP? The press in Ghana has been caught in the middle of a stinking puddle. The unfolding illegal activities of some NPP guys against Ghana has seriously embarrassed journalists who stuck their necks out and supported the party, that is why they are silent. How can these journalists come out and criticize the NPP party when the NDC guys are still around? How can these same journalists tell Ghanaians that the NPP party is no different from the NDC, and that most of the NPP guys are also bilking the nation? I mean how can journalists who daily went on air in the early days of this administration to strongly defend every action of the NPP government now turn round and say the NPP is taking Ghana for a ride. The simple truth is that the NPP government has put shame in the face of those journalists hence their silence. Every single family in Ghana, with the exception of the rich, are feeling the pinch of the bad economic policies by the government. Where is Prof. George Ayittey who was always criticizing the past government? Is he dead, or is he unaware about all what is happening in Ghana today? The American press is facing the same dilemma. The press was very harsh on former President Clinton and hated his every move. They thought Bush was bringing in fresh air to the tainted White House. Now President Bush has messed the American economy. Millions of people have lost their jobs. Bush does not have any clue as to what to do with the economy as he continues to divert attention on the economy to focus on the impending war with Iraq. If the press in Ghana continues to keep quiet in the face of mounting problems confronting Ghana, then one day Ghanaians will blame them. This is the time the press has to stand up and be very objective, after all Ghana is not the property of one party. If the Gifty Affenyi-Dadzies, Kwaku Sakyi-Addos, Kwaku Baakos and Harruna Attas continue to be sycophants and praise singers of the NPP, God will arm Kwesi Pratt, Ben Ephson and the few others to wrestle the country from the clutches of the gluttons with the might of their pens. God save the press. I will conclude by saying shame, shame, shame to the press.

ModernGhana Links