11.04.2005 General News

Victor Smith Goes Haywire Over Concord Report

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THE AIDE TO EX-PRESIDENT RAWLINGS, Mr Victor Smith, has gone wild over the lead story in last Monday's edition of the GYE NYAME CONCORD and issued a damning rejoinder in which he repeated an allegation first carried in the newspaper which he unofficially edits, THE NATIONAL DEMOCRAT.

In a rejoinder issued and posted on Ghanaweb before he and his boss reportedly embarked on a trip to South Africa Friday, Smith castigated the Gye Nyame Concord for what he perceived as a deliberate twist of the debate between him and President Kufuor's Press Secretary, Mr Kwabena Agyepong, on the London-based HOT FM radio.

The report was filed by Mr Ben Appiah-Kubi, a Ghanaian journalist pursuing a Masters Degree programme in the UK.

Suspecting that the report was recorded and handed over to this paper for a story, Mr Smith went to town on this paper and accused it of being a paid agent of government, an allegation first repeated almost a fortnight ago in the rabidly pro-Rawlings National Democrat, said by its former editor to be edited by Mr Victor Smith himself.

In that particular article, the Victor-Smith supported paper cited some of the nation's most respected journalists, including Komla Dumor, Kwami Sefa Kayi, etc., as being paid agents of the NPP and sought to call on NDC fanatics to target them “should anything happen in Ghana.”

In a brief comment on Mr Smith's allegations Saturday, the Managing Editor of the Gye Nyame Concord, Mr Alfred Ogbamey, noted that “we would fully respond to Mr Smith on Wednesday.

“Look, ex-President Rawlings, as we are all aware recently told the meeting with NDC officials during which he insulted his own party officials, including the respected Prof. Atta Mills, that he did not trust anybody in his house except the wife. He made this statement in the presence of Victor when he had to collect the mobile phones of his guests before the meeting.

“Since then, some NDC friends have sought to find out whether it is indeed true that, the statement was made because of Victor since they have heard allegations that the 'old man' has begun doing a lot of things without his involvement or knowledge.

“Anyway, Victor should be telling us whether it's true that he's been on a $500 a week ($2,000 a month) retainer to grass on his own boss for sometime now and that his recent utterances, often worse than that of his boss, are smoke-screens to gain Rawlings's confidence? We expect answers to these kinds of questions and not the irrational allegations he's making without offering proof?

“Come to think of it, how did he know we are on a payroll? Did he go to sign for his 'take' and saw our name there? We are interested in his answers to these fair questions because it would allow us to know where to go to collect our share of the national cake,”

Below is the unedited response of Mr Smith to the Gye Nyame Concord story: The dishonesty and mischievousness of certain media houses and some of their journalists is as blatant as that of their paymasters in the NPP government, if not worse.

The Gye Nyame Concord newspaper of 4th or 5th April, 2005, in reporting on a radio interview carried out by a Ghanaian radio station, based in London, mischievously attempted to mislead readers into thinking both Kwabena Agyepong and I were in a London studio and went on to misrepresent what actually transpired in that interview.

The impression the writer sought to create in that article is laughable because I can state categorically that I was never in any studio in London with Kwabena Agyapong, neither were we on parallel lines during that morning's interview, to warrant the term “butubutu”. How dishonest!

As characteristic of the Gye Nyame Concord as with the rest of the Government paid newspapers, the Gye Nyame Concord reported almost verbatim, everything Kwabena Agyepong said in that interview and disingenuously sought to trivialize what I had said.

How unprofessional and skew-brained can the reporter be?

For the benefit of readers who may not have been privy to the interview in question, the interview was really about the remarks of the Christian Council's General Secretary relating to reconciling Former President

Rawlings and President Kufuor as reported in the Daily Graphic of Tuesday 29 March, 2005.

In the submissions I made on several radio stations relating to the Daily Graphic story in question, I categorically disapproved of the approach suggested by the Christian Council and indicated that President

Rawlings had met with leaders of Charismatic Churches in Accra many months ago and assured them of his willingness to join in the effort by the churches to broker peace and lower the heightening political tension in the country.

But I hastened to add that President Rawlings was more concerned about the insensitivity of the Kufuor Government to the plight of all citizens except those who are either close friends or relatives of the President.

I stated that should any reconciliation meeting be arranged by the Church leaders President Rawlings would highlight issues of national significance such as the high level of corruption in Government; the nepotism ; the killing of the overlord of Dagbon, the Ya Na and 40 others and the failure of government to ensure a thorough and satisfactory investigation to prosecute the real killers; the torture and eventual murder of Alhaji Issa Molbilla in a Military barracks; the serial murder of women in the run up to the 2000 elections and subsequent unsatisfactory investigation; the persecution of NDC Ministers and persons associated with President Rawlings; the badmouthing of President Rawlings by President Kufuor and his Ministers whenever they travel abroad.

On the question of former President using harsh/abusive language on President Kufuor I was of the view that the use of abusive language had come from the NPP side even when President Rawlings was Head of State.

President Kufuor, then NPP flag bearer Kufuor, had referred to President Rawlings and cabinet as a bunch of rogues.

President Kufuor has, on more than one occasion, referred to former President Rawlings as “Abonsam” and “that character” etc.

Indeed Mr. Kufuor found it funny/hilarious and laughed when, in his presence, some of his party men such as Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey and Kennedy Agyepong, amongst others, rained insults on the former President and his relations.

Kwabena Agyepong, the President's spokesman, has persistently made very derogatory remarks about President Rawlings, such as has been exhibited in the interview in question.

Neither President Kufuor nor any of his advisers have found it morally prudent to call Agyepong to order but they have been quick to find anything and everything wrong with the name Ataa Ayi being used during a protest march.

It doesn't surprise me that certain journalists who are, without doubt, on the benefits-roll of the government/national security, recklessly and without shame, jump to the rescue when senior government officials commit serious blunders such as the case of Vice- President Alhaji Aliu Mahama in the JJ Rawlings-UDS award saga, in which the poor UDS council chairman has now become a laughing stock and a scape goat who must be sacrificed.

Nowhere in the national constitution does it state or say that journalists should set the national agenda for all to follow. Those journalists who have arrogated to themselves powers that they do not have or cannot handle intelligently, should think again.

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