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22.08.2003 Feature Article

Letter From The President (XIV)

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Countrymen and women, This weekend I will be enduring the very unpleasant experience of sitting with more than 200 journalists for the annual Ghana Journalist Association awards ceremony. Journalists! Hmm, I don’t like that inquisitive, boisterous, talkative and patronizing bunch very much, you know, even though a lot of them are very malleable, acquiescent, impressionable and very ‘bribe-able’. I don’t like to sit down with journalists because they tend to ask too many unintelligent questions that tend to make you talk ‘by heart.’ You see, when a journalist asks you a stupid question, he inflates your ego, tantalizingly offering you an irresistible opportunity to impress everyone around. I know a ‘rabbit’ in my squad who hasn’t got the eunuch-like self restraint necessary to resist the proverbial carrot. He it was, who so desperately wanted to do the ‘Joe Impression’ act that he decided to work out some mathematical calculations. Alas, he failed and bungled our case in the debate over the GETfund arrears with those small boys and girls from NUGS. When NUGS threatened to go to court, this rabbit in my squad noticed his folly and guess what he did in his vain attempt to extricate himself? He lied. This is all because one dumb journalist asked him a dumb question. On another occasion, this same rabbit failed to shut up, or at best say a few words. Instead, he opened his beak too wide and asked that “given the choice of two years of NPP failure and 20 years of NDC failure, what will Ghanaians choose?” [Obviously, he’s forgotten that before the NDC failed for 20 years, it had failed for two years] Statements like those made by my little rabbit recently draw unnecessary attention to my government and I take strong exception to members of my team who open their mouths too wide. This particular rabbit, his name is Nakomea, seems to have a very weak mind and a dreadfully lose tongue, which makes me very uncomfortable. What surprises me is that he was very quiet before his appointment as my government’s chief ‘gong-gong’ beater. Now he beats the ‘gong-gong’ with such monotonous regularity, apparently after he realized that he’s got a little more sense than most journalists. Well, even though I acknowledge my God-given talents and my great wisdom I have made a quality decision never to flaunt what I have before journalists, especially, those who wield tape recorders and TV cameras. That’s why I consider my invitation to address the weekend’s journalism ‘big do’ such an emotional drain. I only accepted the invitation because it affords me an opportunity to set another record and clinch yet another first for myself – yes, I will be the first president of this country ever to sit down with journalists as they pat themselves on the back for the good, the bad and ugly things they can do with their pens (and more recently keyboards). Since I received the invitation to attend their big bash, I have been pondering over the things journalists do and I have come to the conclusion that only a few journalists in this country are very evil, mischievous and ungrateful. This minority have within the short spate of just about two years forgotten about how I struggled to repeal the criminal libel law. They seem oblivious to the fact that I have exercised Christ-like self restraint and turned a blind eye to their numerous excesses. They have chosen rather to put my government under unprecedented scrutiny and keep reporting the least misdemeanour of any member of my governing team. Read the headlines – “‘apushkeleke’ minister steals NPP man’s wife”, “President travels again”, “Ministers chop from Castle renovation” and “Sahara deal stinks”, etc. Headlines like these put me off and alert me to be very careful in me dealings with some journalists. Otherwise, I think I have quite a number of journalists (and some of the influential ones amongst them) in my pocket. Let me explain. First, the two most popular newspapers in this country have their chief executives and editors appointed by me and so they dare not criticize me. The first critical story or article and I change their dwelling places the next day. Secondly, there are journalists in this country who believe that we are doing quite well and we need all the encouragement we can get and so they do not criticize. NEVER! These are the journalists who eloquently spell out one of the good things I admire about Jerry Boom’s regime – their extremely low standards. Day in, day out, they compare my administration with that of Jerry Boom and since Mr. Boom’s standards were so low any ‘standard’ act of good governance I put up is met with tonnes of adoring praise. The GJA itself rallied a lot of journalists to our side when they came to us begging for us to allow them to turn the old GNTC building into what is now the sleek and very modern international press centre. They dare not criticize me too much, otherwise, I can get my building back with just a snap of my fingers. Finally, I think, I have a lot of journalists in my pocket because they will often do what forward-looking journalists will NOT do – they will ask stupid questions, (mis)informed by poor research against the background of their professional arrogance and political ignorance. When I address the journalistic big bash over the weekend, I intend to urge them to do just one thing – something they’ve often been asked to do by several other members of my team – that they should criticize me ‘constructively’. This might not be part of my speech but here is my definition of constructive criticism – it’s a litany of dos and don’ts. Do sing my praises, I need a bloated ego to govern this country well. Do acknowledge the fact that I am the most media-friendly Sikaman president ever. If nothing at all, remember, that I repealed the criminal libel law and reward me as such. Do contact me for all the sleaze on the past government. Constructive criticism means that a journalist should speak good about the current government and speak evil about the past regime. Constructive criticism also means that you should NEVER speak about my numerous travels (I enjoy those trips); never mention my name in vain; never ask me why I don’t like Jerry Boom (I just don’t like him) and finally; and most importantly, never make allegations against any of my ministers. Such allegations distract them from the job and hand and so they shall not be investigated. Take note, all ye journalists, and fall in line. Yours faithfully, J. A. Fukuor

J. A. Fukuor
J. A. Fukuor, © 2003

The author has 204 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: JAFukuor

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