THE DEPUTY Ashanti regional minister, Osei Asibey Antwi has vigorously defended the practice of what has become popularly known as 'solidarity' in the Ghanaian circles.
Solidarity, which is abbreviated as 'Soli', is an unofficial amount of money event organizers give to journalists for covering a programme.
Recently, the President of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr. Ransford Tetteh expressed disgust about what appears to be an acceptance of 'soli' in the country's media activities, and categorically enjoined event organizers to stop paying 'soli' to journalists.
The GJA president contended that professional ethics governing the noble profession would be compromised once a journalist took 'soli'.
However, fraternizing with student journalists at the Institute of Business Management and Journalism (IBM&J) in Kumasi during their Students' Representative Council (SRC) week celebration on Monday, the deputy regional minister hailed the payment of 'soli'.
“I don't think the payment of 'soli' amounts to corrupting journalists; rather I sincerely believe that it is a form of allowance paid to journalists for covering programmes,” he said.
Mr. Osei Assibey posed a rhetorical question: “Is it out of place to give T&T to a journalist who comes to cover your programme?”
He indicated that it would be a fruitless exercise for people to debate as to whether or not the payment of 'soli' should be abolished, explaining that there is no way 'soli' can be phased out of the system.
Mr. Osei Asibey, the now resigned first vice chairman of the New Patriotic Party in the Ashanti region said the media has played an important role in advancing democracy in the country.
He particularly expressed delight about the proliferation of radio stations in the country which, he noted, has made it possible for the general public to receive information and education on varying societal issues.
The deputy regional minister, who is in serious contention to succeed Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, as MP for Manhyia in Kumasi was exceptionally appreciative of 'phone-in segment' on radio for the fact that it has afforded the electorate the opportunity to question people in government on their policies.
“We all agree that 'phone-in- segment' on radio has enhanced the citizen's participation in decision-making and gone a long way to create the “we feeling” which is an essential component of democracy,” he declared.
Mr. Osei Asibey said since people have so much trust in what is said on air, it is only worthwhile for radio presenters to professionally handle 'phone-in-segments' so that misinformation is not propagated.
“You must use tact to handle controversial programmes without creating unnecessary tension,” he stated.
The deputy regional minister, who acknowledged that negative and loose utterances on radio stations could plunge the country into chaos like what happened in Rwanda some ten years ago, urged journalists to endeavour to weigh whatever they wished to say on air or write in the papers with utmost circumspection.
“As prospective media men and women, you can exhibit professionalism by giving due regard to fair, objective and responsible media practice,” he advised the student journalists.
Deploring the current spate of indiscipline among the youth, Mr. Osei Assibey contended that without a disciplined and vibrant youth, the country could not be assured of dedicated and committed leaders who would strive for economic salvation, stability and good governance.
He therefore implored the students to compliment the relentless war against indiscipline by inculcating in themselves high sense of discipline in their daily dealings.
From Morgan Owusu, Kumasi