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Editorial News of Wednesday, 22 April 2020


Paul Adom-Otchere: The ‘representational agency’ of a failed state? - Part 2

Paul Adom-Otchere Paul Adom-Otchere

The article titled “Paul Adom-Otchere: the representational agency of a failed state” has generated much interest, and calls for a sequel.

The key concerns include 1)Is Ghana really a failed state?; 2)Why focus on Paul and go easy on Zanetor?; and 3)That since that controversial Good Evening Ghana programme (GEG) wounds from the Rawlings-era atrocities have been opened.

Let's examine these concerns based solely on principles with no malice whatsoever towards any personality.

First, the article contains facts, evidence and reason to buttress the point that Ghana is a failed state bordering on the brink of collapse.

Almost all our institutions continue to fail woefully in performing their allotted tasks.

Second, that MPs Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings and Dr Oko Vanderpuije should solicit crumbs from the Gender and Social Protection Minister when in fact, they – the legislators, approved the funds, including disbursement modalities is unacceptable; it should not happen.

Third, the whole sordid affair that reached a crescendo with the diatribe by Adom-Otchere is a typical representation of the fundamental triple failure of our journalism, politics and governance – once again nothing personal.

Suffice it to say, the subsequent on-air non-apology statement notwithstanding, it has all simply been garden-variety Ghana talk – acrimonious, devoid of nuance and cluttered with didactic inaccuracies.

The GEG host last year, on 23 April 2019 posited that the political party vigilantism that has characterized our politics and governance started with President Rawlings.

“Where did all this start from…. When he was President of Ghana…. there was a unit in the Ghana Armed Forces called the 64 Infantry Battalion thought to be a private army Mr Rawlings created to protect his regime and himself…… Also ACDRs [ Association of Committees for the Defence of the Revolution] and CDRs [Committees for the Defence of the Revolution] was set up right within the Ghana Armed Forces.”

Now hear him again on his April 16, 2020, GEG show:

“Let it get into your system Dr. Rawlings, let it get into your system; you come from a privileged place, we respect you, we respect your father, behave properly, stop misbehaving. How can you even issue such a statement for what you have done…we’ve been charitable to you because of who you are…

But yes, you come from a great place that all of us wish we could come from. You are carrying the political heritage of Flt. Lieutenant Rawlings, you cannot behave the way you’re behaving...withdraw this statement before the lions chew you on social media...this your statement is completely flawed. Never issue such a statement again...”

Are the two positions (one year apart) consistent?

Do they reflect an accurate historical record?

Is it appropriate to ask anyone to withdraw a statement?

Your duty is to provide facts or to investigate statements.

How can a journalist stop anybody from making allegations?

No one should gag anybody; only demand that any allegations are substantiated.

Again, a journalist needn’t be “charitable” to public servants because of status.

A debonair senior attorney observed that the kind of journalism that suggests that Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings comes from a “great place” that “we all wish we could come from” teaches all the wrong lessons.

He gave at least two reasons: first, in our society, anybody who pursues meritocracy has social mobility within our socio-economic and legal environment or elsewhere to fulfil their dreams; and second, that there is nothing worth emulating about a former military dictator whose unrecanted atrocities have left gaping wounds in our society.

Meanwhile, instead of Ghana’s COVID-19 public discourse focusing on why we have more MPs than ventilators or ICU beds, and a shabby healthcare system, undue emphasis has been placed on the sharing of rudimentary cooked food.

No journalist has told us about the effectiveness of the markets and schools disinfection exercise or even the chemicals utilized, their potency or longevity.

All told, Ghana’s public discourse is pathetic; it needs serious recalibration.

Cavorting with social media lions and representational agency posturing makes for poor journalism – it destroys nations.

Our middle class appears tolerant and even sometimes cheers on the dumbing down of almost every standard including moral duty, thus providing further evidence of a failed state bordering on the brink of collapse.

There is certainly nothing pragmatic about ignoring or tolerating poor standards; it is wholly destructive.

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