Feature Article of Monday, 19 November 2012
Columnist: Amarh, Richard Nii
TYRANNY OF THE MEDIA: Paul Adom Okyere Caught Pants Down At Legon.
Ghana’s constitution provides for a multi-party representative democratic system. A provision informed by a history of one party state, military dictatorships and a long period of political instability, where democratically elected governments did not survive their full terms in office.
The 1992 constitution expressly forbids one party state or any thing close to it, be it two party, left or right wing duopoly, that seeks to exclude others from getting the opportunity to govern the country by legitimate means. Contrary to these constitutional provisions, some media houses and civil society organizations have vowed to establish a two party state in Ghana against the spirit and letter of the constitution, for their own selfish and parochial interests.
My experience at what was supposed to be a parliamentary debate for candidates contesting the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency seat, last Thursday November 15, 2012, at the University of Ghana, some three weeks to election day, leaves me absolutely convinced that our democracy is not safe with political ideologues like Paul Adom Okyere practicing journalism in Ghana. In fact, it is almost foolish to expect fairness, ethical conduct and voluntary self restraint from media practitioners like Paul.
Ayawaso West Wuogon has some 82,000 registered voters. In 2008, William Dowokpor obtained 7,910 votes. Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko had zero votes. Kwame Awuah-Darko had zero votes. Emmanuel Kyeremanteng Agyarko and Kwame Awuah-Darko did not contest in the 2008 elections. They are new entrants in the constituency’s parliamentary race for 2012, representing big party and foreign business interest respectively. In fact they have no idea what the whole business of constituency representation is about. It is even alleged that one of them represents a strange interest, considered a taboo in Ghanaian culture. An interest Ghanaians recently kicked against when the British Prime Minister threatened to impose it on Ghana through British AID. At the instance of the NDC and NPP, and for yet to be disclosed consideration, Paul Adom Okeyere and his producer, Yaw, decided to organize a parliamentary debate for Ayawaso West, live on their “Good Evening Ghana” show on Metro TV. They decided to invite the NDC and NPP candidates only. The constituency’s leading candidate on the ticket of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), William Dowokpor was not invited. On hearing about the pending debate, William Dowokpor got in touch with Yaw, the producer, insisting to participate. William Dowokpor got a call one hour to time, from yaw, saying “we have agreed to accommodate you”. In the most Machiavellian debate arrangement ever witnessed in Ghana, Paul Adom Okyere, decided to allocate 20 minutes each to NDC and NPP candidates, 10 minutes for adverts, five minutes questions and answers time for the NDC and NPP candidates and the remaining five minutes to William Dowokpor, the leading candidate. As if that were not enough; in a most pejorative, prejudicial and cynical introduction, aimed at distorting the facts to deny and tone down the commanding lead of William Dowokpor in the race, Paul Adom Okere, relied on the 2008 parliamentary results, ironically, an election in which the NDC and NPP candidates he sought to promote obtained zero votes, to illogically predict that one of them would win. That night, Paul Adom Okyere was at his tyrannical best. But a flabbergasted Paul sat stiff and disgraced in his chair, when William Dowokpor, in under five minutes, delivered his good constituency governance message, leaving the theatre audience and viewers at home in no doubt whatsoever that, he is the leading candidate and the best among the lot. It is instructive to note a couple of paragraphs from William Dowokpor’s delivery, which is of relevance to the governance of the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency as reproduced here. He said: “Our country is at the proverbial crossroads and our future will be determined by the decision we make on December 7, 2012. Democracy and good political governance is not about money and power games. It is not about influencing the electorate with cash, cars, pure water, standing fans and seductive slogans. It is about the implementation of policies and programmes that lead to improvements in the lives of people in the community and the nation in its entirety. We can all do better when we do better! When we attain the better Ghana, we must all see and feel it in our lives.
My campaign is based on the issues of: Jobs for the youth, reliability in utility and public services, security to life and property; and involving you, the constituent, in the governance of our constituency. I believe these issues are of mutual interest to us. We have a most resourceful constituency with two public universities. Your next MP must have a deep understanding of democracy and good governance to get all of us involved.
I come as the referendum MP who will involve you in the governance of our constituency for the first time. I do not represent big selfish party interest, foreign business interests or any strange interest. It is all about you, me and our community. I need your support. Vote William Dowokpor, the New MP for Ayawaso West Wuogon. Give PPP A Chance!” At the national level, he said the PPP was seeking the opportunity to implement an agenda of change based on the four pillars of incorruptible leadership, education, quality health care and jobs. Explaining the jobs policy he said the PPP would use the state’s purchasing power to create the market for made in Ghana goods and services thereby triggering a massive growth and expansion of existing businesses as well as creating a truly enabling environment for start-up businesses to succeed, leading to a massive demand for labour and removal of unemployment among the Ghanaian youth. Compared to what the NDC and NPP candidates presented - recycled slogans from the past, William Dowokpor’s message is inspirational, forward looking and relevant to our constituency needs. He remains the leading candidate for Ayawaso West Wuogon. We look forward to having him as our next MP who will involve us in the governance of the constituency for the first time. We, in the University of Ghana, have decided to vote PPP. If, under the NDC administration and the vacating NPP MP Frema Osei Opare, the University of Ghana law was reviewed in parliament, to take away our constitutional rights to go on demonstrations unless we secure the express permission of the Dean of Students, an absolute impossibility, we do not find the NDC and NPP parties and their candidates credible enough to represent our interests in parliament and in government. The cash, cars, pure water, double standing fans and promises of non-existent jobs the NDC and NPP candidates are offering on campus not withstanding, we think the University of Ghana is too important to be excluded from the governance of our constituency and the country. And despite Paul Adom Okeyere’s tyranny against the PPP and William Dowokpor, we have decided to vote Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom for jobs and William Dowokpor for proper representation in parliament. No turning back.
Richard Nii Amarh Alexander Kwapong Hall University of Ghana, Legon. 0268857493