The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Stephen Asamoah-Boateng has allayed fears about any danger during the forthcoming elections assuring that after traveling to various places he does not believe there is any cause for alarm.
The minister was speaking to radio station producers, editors and news editors in an interactive session at the Ministry of Information and National Orientation in Accra yesterday.
This year's elections are interesting and the media should avoid reportage which sends wrong signals to the outside world.
“There would be interesting elections but not dangerous or near war,” he said.
Some reports posted on the internet erroneously create the impression that Ghana is about to be set ablaze.
Such impressions he added are discouraging to investors who consider Ghana a bastion of democracy and so fit for pitching their camp.
Much as his ministry cannot educate the media on how to ply its trade, it would serve the interest of the country if journalists consider the repercussions of their output.
He recalled an incident which occurred on yesterday's GTV breakfast show during which a panelist said people who had lost their voter ID cards should not go to the polling centres.
This he said was wrong and he had to call in to correct the error. The host did well by cutting out the panelist whose insistence was going beyond reasonable bounds and this is what radio programme hosts should do to prevent the raising of the political temperature at this time.
“Appearing on such programmes is only a privilege and the hosts have the right to stop anybody from continuing their contributions if these are not in the interest of the nation.
The media should cool off the political temperature so that the country can go to the polls without incidents.”
He said that anybody who goes throwing punches would not have his support because in elections what matters is the ballot and not blows.
“If you throw a blow, Asabee does not know you. What matters is the ballot. The blow does not count in elections. If politicians conscientiously tell their supporters to behave well it will go a long way in ensuring peace,” he said.
His touch of humour in his presentation got many media persons present smiling or giggling when for example he said “why should we fight on a Sunday and indeed that day (Election Day) coincides with the Muslims' Eid El Adha festivity.”
Media persons he said should differentiate between political platform slips and consistent remarks.
When a politician slips during a platform he can apologise but what matters is the consistency of utterances which have negative repercussions on the nation.
Exposing such characters he noted is in order not so however when platform slips are what occur.
The encounter according to the minister was to enable both the government and the media share ideas on how to support the forthcoming polls positively.
Accreditation for the coverage of the polls he told the media is about to start with some foreign journalists already in the country and the Russians expressing interest in following suit.
Some media persons expressed concerns about various subjects relating to the elections as the minister took them in their strides.
By A.R. Gomda