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20.11.2004 Feature Article

We Are Sitting On Time Bomb.

We Are Sitting On Time Bomb.
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It is heart-placating to realize that most Ghanaians have now risen out of their deep slumber when it comes to political discussions in Ghana. Many are those who will leave no stone unturned to flex their political muscles by way of making contributions whenever there is a discourse on the airwaves. That is a significant and tremendous forward thrust. Much as we may want to attribute that to our changing circumstances, we may also want to congratulate anyone who made the liberalisation of the airwaves possible.

The above pluses notwithstanding, it appears there is a deadly tornado sweeping across our political landscape which has the potential of unleashing catastrophic repercussions on Ghana ; THE USE OF THE PRESS AS TOOLS OF OPPRESSION. Come to think of it,Rawlings may not be a saint, prophet or a philosopher, but he does have a modicum of a foresight of eventuality. He admonished us on a couple of issues, we ignored them and branded him as a lunatic only for those issues to attack and haunt us. Here are a few examples to refresh our memories;

Prior to handing power to Mr Kuffuor, Rawlings advised the latter to beware of his closest pals. He intimated that if Mr Kuffuor is going to make it or fail, it will be contingent on his closest associates. Whether Kuffuor heeded the advice or not we don't know. But one thing is certain; Rawlings' admonitions were vindicated. We all know of the multifarious acts of malfeasance indulged in by no mean personalities like Dr Apraku,Jake Obetsebi Lamptey,Kwamena Bartels and Mustapha Bamba, among others. The power of incumbency exonerated them but the truth remains unscathed. Kuffuor had to reshuffle his cabinet several times because he realised that if he didn't put his feet down “his own people were going to let him down”.

There is incontrovertible evidence to prove that a week or so before the gruesome of the Yaa Naah,Rawlings foresaw the potential carnage and then told the late Yaa Naa of it. But before the latter could put himself together to deal with the situation, his assassins were far ahead with their diabolical and rather dastardly act of murder. What have been left in its trail are the fusillade of accusations and counter-accusations; chaos and destruction, fear and acrimony, anger and a severe sense of bitterness and suspicion. And what is the governing doing about that? Zilch! Or rather too little too late.

Not long ago Rawlings once again aptly described a stinking phenomenon rearing its ugly head in the politics of Ghana. Yes you damn right; the use of the press as tools of oppression. Those who found themselves in that domain reacted and again it was swept under the carpet. But this particular phenomenon ought to be looked at carefully and discussed. This is because it is an issue which has the potential of undoing the foundations of our much-cherished democracy. Infact as the fourth estate of the realm, the press must be seen to be politically neutral. That is especially true in a country like Ghana where the masses have lost faith in the other organs of government especially the judiciary and executive. It is expected that when the government machinery is not doing up to the expectation of the masses, the media will create the platform upon which people will articulate their dissatisfaction. This medium becomes stifled when the media is seen to be in bed with the government. Unfortunately that is the phenomenon we are experiencing in Ghana today.

Infact the press plays an indispensable role in moulding the institutions of governance and development for that matter. That is why I enjoy programmes like “Front Page” and “News File” both on Joy fm. It is also remarkable that some journalists in Ghana have distinguished themselves in that field. However there are a few out there who need to be tutored on the dynamics of that profession. It is not enough to write stories or host programmes. But what we want to see is a veneer of professionalism. People like Kweku Sakyi Addo and Kwesi Pratt have consistently proven that they are not only interested in the material gains of the profession but do care about their reputations as well. For example you and I know that Kwaku would ask Rawlings the difficult questions even under those belligerent circumstances of the NDC days. That is the mark of a true journalist. Can we say the same with people like Kwaku Baako. Your guess is as good as mine.

For goodness sake how can a journalist who professes to be a true Nkrumahist be seen to defending everything the Busiah Danquahs are doing? Kwaku Baako for example was hailed during the NDC days because we thought he was telling it as it should be told. Little did we know that he was throwing dust into our eyes? It now appears that he has been bought and paid to speak for the NPP such that he feels it is obligatory to defend everything NPP even if it is prima facie indefensible.

He is not the only one in that domain but I have cited him because some of us saw him as a model when he embarked on his crusade against the NDC. So for him to make change within the twinkle of an eye is like dealing us a deadly blow. An example of the lack of neutrality on the part of some journalists is also manifested on Nana Yaa Ofori's programme; Front Page. Take for instance her programme on Saturday the 30th of 0ctober, 2004.

Her panellists included Kweku Baako (NPP spokesman), Gaby Asare Okyere Daako (NPP spokesman), Yoni Kulande (apparently NPP man) and Dr Josiah Aryeh (NDC spokesman). I have two problems with the whole thing. One is the constitution of the panellists (and that has always been the trend). How can one man face up to three people? We all know that there are about four strong political parties in Ghana. So to have three people representing just one party is suicidal as it is negative. Couldn't the hostess have gotten some people to represent the CPP and PNC? Does she want to suggest that those parties are non-existent? And check this out; Gaby Okyere Daako is the editor of the “Statesman” and he was in the studio to stand in for Mr Asamoah Boateng the NPP representative who could not make it to the studios. Paradoxically Gaby didn't want to be introduced as someone acting on behalf of Asamoah Boateng. Why? Because if that had happened he would have seen as a pressman being used a “tool of oppression.” So he preferred to be introduced as a journalist. Funny isn't it?

The other problem is the way the hostess of the programme seems to be biased. I realised that anytime someone with views against the government is on the floor, she makes it virtually impossible for the person to articulate such views. But when it is in favour of the government, the person is allowed to go unimpeded. So at the end of the day we the viewers are only presented with one side of the coin. As the hostess she has the discretion to control events in the studio, but such discretion must be used in such a way as not to be detrimental to the purpose of the deliberations.

What we want to see is a press devoid of any political undertones especially when discussing issues of national importance. What we want to see is a press that will ventilate the sentiments of the ordinary man on the street. What we want to see is a press that is well balanced in its reportage and eschew unnecessary sensationalism. We are sick and tired of half truths and unverified stories. We will soon be tired of the press that has been bought to bed government. ADAMS OSHOMOLE LONDON. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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