CPP Champions Crusade For Ayariga's Exit
The Ministry of Information together with Information Services Department (ISD) have a remit to help create awareness of government policies, programmes and activities as well as promoting Ghana's international marketing agenda among other things.
This basic function has been lost in recent years as the Ministry has become viewed by some as a place for propaganda and not truth.
The NDC government has struggled over many years to ensure the credibility that the Ministry needs – the appointment of Zita Okaikwei in President Mills government faced internal criticism when Minister of State Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo called on the president to fire Zita Okaikwei for her alleged “incompetence” as Information Minister.
Long before the appointment of Mrs Zita Okaikwei, there were problems with the government's Communications machinery with the appointment of a Presidential Spokesman and Communications Director by the Mills Government before the Minister of Information, and the subsequent confusion and mistakes that followed.
John Tia came and went; to be followed by Hon Fritz Baffour who many felt was overshadowed by his Deputy Hon Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa. At a press conference organised by the ministry, deputy Okudzeto Ablakwa read the press statement and answered the media questions.
Ghanaians heard the threats of Deputy Information Minister Baba Jamal to Information Services Department (ISD) staff if they fail to exaggerate NDC government achievements.
Baba Jamal, had in a tape recording, told staff of the ISD to, among other things, over-exaggerate when disseminating government information to the public.
He had said: “Yours is to make government look good, whatever the circumstance. If the government buys sheep and gives it as a gift, you are free to say it is a cow. You are free to say that…If the colour of the sheep is black; you can say it was a white colourful cow.”
Baba Jamal was confirming what many Ghanaians suspected that the NDC Government had turned the Ministry of Information and Information Services Department (ISD) into a Propaganda Centre for the NDC.
Ghanaians observed with keen interest the appointment of a new Information Minister- Mahama Ayariga. It did not take long before what is now the characteristic of an NDC Minister of Information started to rear its head again.
Minister Mahama Ayariga goofed on the information about President Mahama's relationship with Andrew Solomon, only for him to make a U-turn and apologize for saying that President Mahama did not know Andrew Solomon.
Ghanaians appreciated Mahama Ayariga's sincerity in apologizing; however to commit the similar faux pas a second time is unpardonable for a Minister of Information.
We all recall that last week, in his role as Minister of Information and Media Relations, Mahama Ayariga had confirmed a change of name at the seat of Government, from Flagstaff House to Jubilee Flagstaff House. Within two days, the minister made another U-turn, to apologise for the colossal mistake – there was no change of name.
Mahama Ayariga could have consulted the President before coming out with his statement. An indication perhaps that, systems between the Ministry of Information and Media Relations, the Presidency and Government machinery is either not functioning or non-existent.
Concerns are also now being raised as to whether President John Mahama assessed Mahama Ayariga's background before appointing him as a Minister. Almost every portfolio that Mahama Ayariga has held has seen allegations leveled against him.
In 2009 when he was the Spokesperson for the late President JEA Mills, it was alleged that he bought some tractors from the Ministry of Agriculture way below its usual price. This was cited as a corrupt act and abuse of office. Again, in 2011 when he was the Deputy Minister of Education, he was also cited for inflating figures on a 3 unit classroom block built at Bodoo, an area in the Bawku Central Constituency, a constituency he now represents in Parliament.
The Ministry of Information and Media Relations has in the last 30 years lost some credibility in the eyes of Ghanaians, and has come to be viewed as an extension of the propaganda machinery of government.
The Convention People's Party urges Hon. Mahama Ayariga to do the honourable thing and resign for failing to put accurate information into the public domain. This we believe will save his image and that of the country.
As a country too, we need our institutions to work in a professional way and above partisanship, in the interest of all Ghanaians and not surrogates of political parties.
Nii Armah Akomfrah CPP Director of Communication www.conventionpeoplesparty.org