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21.08.2010 Feature Article

Why I plan to seize power

I am giving up the search, Jomo. I am throwing in the darned cotton towel and calling it quits. It is just not worth my while anymore, old chap. A lifetime is too long to spend waiting for an answer to a very elementary question:

What is the actual motivation behind the quest by individuals in our country to get into positions of authority and power, using political parties as launching pads?

You could word the question another way: What is it about political power that makes some of our compatriots so resolute in their pursuit of it, that they are easily disposed to biting off the heads not only of their opponents across the political divide, but even those of their colleagues in the same political party as well, who appear to stand in the way of their ambition?

You have probably heard about the internal party acrimony that preceded the NDC's national delegates Congress and the one playing out now in the NPP ahead of the party's coming national congress.

There must be something in political power and authority to make people tick this way and I dare say that “something” cannot be honourable. What is honourable about people grunting and panting and shoving and heaving violently at each other over an election that is still years away?

It is a bit obscene, don't you think? Much like salivating at the sight of the ingredients even before the meal is cooked.

No sooner had we emerged from the last elections, huffing and puffing with electoral fatigue and some relief, after the near encounter with national chaos, than people began talking animatedly again about Election 2012, as if it were only hours away.

Alright, so eventually some of those who seek it manage to come to power after all. What have successive generations of politicians done with the power we have handed them again and again since our independence from British colonial rule?

Large numbers of our people continue to live in abject deprivation and hardship. You will find all the evidence in the news archives of TV3. All we the people ever seem good for, as far as politicians are concerned, is to queue up and vote them (politicians) into power, to live a privileged existence.

One of the most frequently over-subscribed course modules taught in journalism universities in the UK and the United Sates is one aptly titled “Mass Media and Politics.” This title should tickle your curiosity. Why not commerce and politics or mass media and social ethic?

It is because the functional and symbiotic relationship between the mass media and politicians constitutes such a profoundly powerful force for controlling our lives and ultimate destiny, that media scholars have made it a subject of critical study.

Think about it for a moment, old chap: Information which controls and moves society every fraction of a second, is managed and disseminated by the media according to the media's own agenda, which then becomes the public agenda, while the constitutional authority over our lives is controlled by the media's partners in “crime”- the politicians.

I am unsure whether it is an attempt by chagrined subjects of critical reporting to denigrate the media or whether there is some truth to it: There are speculations that some journalists are lying deep inside the pockets of politicians, from within which cozy sanctuary, they churn out A-four sheets of printed lethal poison to feed our national politics.

This week, several radio stations discussed the alleged confession by a prominent journalist, that he had deliberately published outright fabrications about the state of health of then presidential candidate J.E.A Mills, as part of propaganda intended to court the favour of the opposition party at the time.

Those who commented on the alleged case of “419 reporting” said they were scandalized. Others called for investigations and possible sanctions by the Ghana Journalists Association and the National Media Commission.

That is why we must stage a coup d'état to try and clean things up a bit, Jomo. Now dig this, old chap: I am not by any stretch of the psychopathic imagination referring to military upheavals. They went out of mercenary fashion decades ago. I am referring to an intellectual revolution that will enable us to have the barest minimum of control over the way the media and the political establishment operate:

This is my plan for seizing power from the mass media and politicians and handing it to the people: I propose to start a movement to keep a more critical eye on the controversial duo. It will probably be called the Ghana National institute for Critical Media and Politics.

It will obtain grants and other sources of funding to establish its own newspapers and a vibrant think tank, that will through public seminars and educational programmes, expose media inaccuracy and arrogance, shine the light on those stories and national issues which are under-reported, and investigate and expose the use of the media for national unity-threatening public relations spin and propaganda.

We shall undertake a constant and radical critique of the mainstream media, with in-depth analysis and commentary on journalism practice. It would be a mark of unpardonable arrogance for the media which watches society, to refuse to be watched.

We shall try to deepen and broaden public discourse on national issues by providing media space to accommodate those perspectives from the less influential segments of society which are frequently crowded out by powerful voices.

The dumbest thing the people of any modern society could certainly do is to leave the media and politicians to do as they wish. This week, there was total chaos at toll bridges along some of the country's roads as the authorities tried to enforce a sudden 1000 percent increase in road and bridge tolls.

There had been no explanation, education or consultation with transport sector unions and the public. Motorists arrived at the booths and refused to pay. They held up motor traffic in stagnant streams for kilometers along some highways. Many passengers alighted and walked. One group of protesters even burnt lorry tires on one road.

You can only hope that the media and the authorities noticed one significant thing: The protests were spontaneous. For once, people were fighting a common cause without the usual show of political sympathies with the ruling party or the opposition.

It means there is potential for the kind of change I am canvassing, which further means when my Institute for Critical Media and Politics moves to seize power from the media and politicians, we shall receive massive support from across the political divide! Choo-boi!!

George Sydney Abugri is a prolific, multi-award winning, Ghanaian newspaper journalist.

Read more of his articles at or email him at [email protected]

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George Sydney Abugri
George Sydney Abugri, © 2010

The author has 23 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: GeorgeSydneyAbugri

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