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14.05.2004 General News

Democratic dispensation, most positive change in Africa-bishop

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Cape Coast, May 14, GNA - The Anglican bishop of Cape Coast, Right Reverend Daniel Allotey, on Friday, observed that the current democratic dispensation in Africa, in which governments are gracefully conceding defeat in elections, and handing over power to the victorious political parties, should be regarded as "the mother of all positive changes" on the continent.

According to him, "good things" are going on in Ghana, and that Ghanaians must be aware of the fact that, the current paradigm for constitutional rule, is not what pertained before 1992, and should therefore refrain from measuring positive change only in terms of improved living conditions.

Rt. Rev. Allotey made thee observations at a symposium organised by the Central region branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to mark 'World Press Freedom Day', on the theme " Radio : Prospects and Challenges in Nation Building", at Cape Coast.

The Anglican bishop, tasked media practitioners, particularly, those working at radio stations to strive to promote peace and development, by being proactive in their presentations and programmes. He pointed out that, the prevailing press freedom, should be used responsibly, and stressed that all phone-in programmes must be monitored to avoid any negative impact on the society and that political and religious agendas must be organised in a way that puts the nation's interest first.

He described radio as an indispensable tool in the process of nation building, which, apart from being a medium for information, education and entertaining, should also be used to mobilise people for development.

The regional president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Mr Peter Ababio also underscored the importance of radio, which he said reaches every nook and crane of the country, for national development. He observed that radio is a unique tool especially in the country as there are broadcasts in the various local languages and which he said enhances people's awareness of national issues. He however cautioned that since the listening public is swayed by what they hear, there is the need to ensure that all radio programmes impact positively on the lives of the people. " We all yearn to have programmes that will portray Ghana as a united nation. Anything that smacks of ethnicity must be discarded", he emphasised.

Mr Ababio, bemoaned the current spate of crime wave in the country, especially those perpetuated by the youth and said the radio could be used to stem this tide of indiscipline, if "well thought-out and designed programmes are aired. He stressed on the benefits of press freedom, but echoed calls on the media to be circumspect in their reportage, and in the broadcast of programmes, particularly during the forthcoming elections and not to let their political interests override the ethics of their profession. Mr Michael Essandoh, the regional coordinating director, for his part, tasked media practitioners in the region, to write feature articles that are development oriented, to promote socio-economic development.

Mr Essandoh said this would help the region, which has been classified as the fourth poorest in terms of economic activities, and in HIV/AIDS prevalence and the first in cases of teenage pregnancy, strive hard to reverse.

The regional director of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) Mr Sarpong Anane, gave the assurance, that all political parties will be given equal airtime during the elections. In his welcoming address, the regional chairman of the GJA, Mr Ebo Sackey, was happy that the celebration of the day had enabled public interaction with the media. He stressed the importance of a responsible media in enhancing the democratic process, and expressed concern about some obscene lyrics and advertisements put on air.

Mr Sackey also tasked radio stations not to focus their attention on just political issues, but on programmes that will propel the nation forward, such as those of environmental protection and children's welfare. He commended journalists in the region for their hard work, in spite of the numerous constraints facing them. The director of the National Catholic Secretariat, Rev. Fr. David Ocran, who presided, also pointed out the importance of media practitioners in national building, but cautioned them against using the repeal of the criminal libel law to publish anything.

According to him, all such practitioners, have a God-given responsibility to set the right pace, and to refrain from acts that are inimical to societal progress. There were interventions from the representatives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Convention People's Party (CPP) at the forum who respectively, expressed concern about the seeming use of the radio against the NDC and the need to use the radio to expose the unfair world economic order.

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