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Regional News of Friday, 28 May 2021

Source: BONABOTO

RE: Outstanding health director 'widely' accused by BONABOTO honoured by GHS

Dr John Koku Awoonor-Williams is a relation to Ghana's world-acclaimed poet, Professor Kofi Awoonor Dr John Koku Awoonor-Williams is a relation to Ghana's world-acclaimed poet, Professor Kofi Awoonor

The attention of BONABOTO (a Civil Society Organization-CSO with catchment area covering the five central districts of the Upper East Region) has been drawn to a misleading and malevolent publication on Starrfm.com.gh (Outstanding health director “widely” accused by BONABOTO honoured by GHS - Starr Fm) and Ghanaweb.com (Outstanding health director 'widely' accused by BONABOTO honoured by GHS | Photos (ghanaweb.com)) authored by one Mr. Edward Adeti.

He purposefully sought to portray BONABOTO in bad light by suggesting wrongly in the article that the CSO hunted Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams out of the Region and that the doctor was falsely accused of thievery.

First, it is important to state unequivocally that BONABOTO stands firmly by its position on the five vehicles belonging to the Upper East Regional Health Directorate that were taken away and continues to pursue their return to the already deprived Region. This we have done meticulously through available legitimate means. In fact, the matter is currently the subject of an ongoing court case between leading members of BONABOTO and Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams and we would have preferred that Mr. Adeti being a staunch supporter of Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams and in the know of this, would have restrained himself from further comments on the matter in his writeups until the end of the court hearing. Unfortunately, his choice otherwise to misinform right-thinking Ghanaians on the issue at the least opportunity calls us to duty to accurately straighten the distortions in his story.

Indeed, despite Mr. Adeti’s continued spiteful publications against BONABOTO in defence of Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams, the CSO remains resolute in its efforts to have all five taken vehicles returned to the Upper East Regional Health Directorate. We wish to assure the public that the matter remains of great interest to us and is keenly being followed up on relentlessly and unremittingly. We are very well conversant with the craftiness of this self-styled journalist. His slyness is too familiar to deserve our useful time and attention. Yet, checking the flood gates of misinformation is an unwavering responsibility that cannot be forfeited by us.

Our understanding of the responsibilities and role of the Media in national development is absolute. We are also conscious of the powers granted the Media to enable them to fulfil their mandate but equally cognisant of the detrimental consequences of abusing the constitutional right to media freedom through deliberate misreporting, misrepresentation of facts, and biased reportage meant to purposefully target individuals and organisations by self-seeking journalists without conscience. It is in the avoidance of such possible wanton misuse of press freedom and for the protection of the public that the Media is obliged to report on double-checked facts presented fairly in an impartial manner. Mr. Adeti has consistently, by choice, fallen short of these ethics in several of his publications targeting BONABOTO. While we initially chose to ignore his persistent mischievous attacks on the CSO in his publications, we also owe it a duty to help streamline the media space and choose to do so forthwith on this occasion.

Facts
On the 25th of August 2016 Mr. Adeti authored a story captioned “Upper East: Five Vehicles Reported Missing from Health Directorate” (Upper East: Five Vehicles Reported Missing From Health Directorate | News Ghana) which was published on Starrfmonline.com. In the said story, Mr. Adeti recounted that, at a mid-year performance review of the Regions Health Delivery it was reported that five vehicles belonging to the Upper East Regional Health Directorate could not be physically accounted for after stock taking. Consequent to our investigations following Mr. Adeti’s report, we formally wrote to the then Director General of Ghana Health Services (Dr. Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira) to bring notice to him on the matter. Failure of him, Dr. Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, to act led to BONABOTO taking its next action in its campaign to have the vehicles returned. A press statement dated 27th September, 2016 titled “Press Statement by BONABOTO on the Missing Ghana Health Service Regional Headquarters Vehicles” was released and published by several media houses (Retrieve 'missing' cars in 2 weeks - Group warns Health Director - Citi 97.3 FM - Relevant Radio. Always (citifmonline.com)). It is gratifying to note that BONABOTO’s pursuit of the matter, drew attention to the resulting dire shortage of vehicles at the Upper East Regional Health Directorate leading to a replacement V8 vehicle sent to the Region to ease the worsened vehicular lack caused by the five vehicles taken away. Interestingly, Mr. Adeti, the self-acclaimed EIB investigative journalist and Upper East Starr correspondent, is yet to report this feat. We do not expect his bias to allow him to do so. Indeed, it is not in the interest of his agenda to announce that to the world.

From what we know, Mr. Adeti only suddenly made a U-turn on his own publication on the five missing vehicles and suddenly developed bitterness for BONABOTO when the CSO first took to investigate the very missing vehicles that he had published about. In the course of our investigations, Mr. Adeti, in a rather surprising stance, opposed strongly to our looking into the matter. He used crude and unethical means to intimidate leaders of our organisation that were pursuing the case and threatened some staff of the Health Directorate not to cooperate with us. The Starr correspondent, in a leaked audio, was heard talking to a worker (name withheld) of the Upper East regional Health Directorate (UERHD) and telling him to caution Dr. Kofi Issah who had taken over from Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams as the new Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, not to cooperate with us in our investigation. The reporter’s attitude and conduct increasingly became suspicious and questionable as he could not in particular, provide any substantive investigative evidence contrary to our facts gathered on the matter but was hellbent on stopping our pursuit of the matter. While we expected any well-meaning journalist to be interested in working on revealing the truth in the case for proper reporting, Mr. Adeti instead took to and focused his energies on distracting BONABOTO and attacking its leadership in several of his false publications ahead of finalising our investigations. One such publication is his article titled “BONABOTO’s chair assaults Starr Reporter” (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/BONABOTO-s-chair-assaults-Starr-Reporter-507413 and BONABOTO’s chair assaults Starr Reporter - Starr Fm) published by Ghanaweb and Starrfm.com.gh, respectively. Following the false claim carried in the story, Mr. Adeti was subsequently sued for defamation. At the end of hearing the case at the Bolgatanga Circuit Court, His Honour Judge Bedzra, found Mr. Adeti’s accusation of physical assault against the BONABOTO leader to be palpable false and untenable.

As our investigations on the five missing vehicles steadily progressed with surmounting evidence to reach a conclusion, Mr. Adeti probably realising that his obstructing publications outrightly failed to divert our attention, redirected his arsenal on Dr. Kofi Issah and his wife, Madam Hajira Ibrahim. The Starr reporter, in an article on the 29th January, 2017 captioned “Missing Vehicles: UER health boss begs; car found at residence” published on the website of A1 Radio (a local radio station based in the Bolgatanga Municipality with affiliate stations across the country), accused Dr. Kofi Issah of having unduly given to his wife (Madam Hajira Ibrahim) a vehicle for the Ghana Essential Health Intervention Project (GEHIP). Madam Hajira who found Mr. Adeti’s report to be repulsive, untrue, terribly damaging, unacceptable and disgusting sought to the Courts for defamation. The defendant, Mr. Adeti, was found guilty and liable of all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff and was ordered to retract the false story within 72 hours. Mr. Adeti, in that court ruling, was fined thirty three thousand cedis-GH¢ 33, 000.00 (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/court-fines-starr-fm-reporter-gh-33-000-for-defamation.html). In a continued orchestration of his plan to fight BONABOTO, he continues to publish articles targeting the integrity of the CSO and its leadership as though he is revenging our action to retrieve the five missing vehicles from his possible benefactor. His recent article to which we write this rejoinder is a typical example.

We are aware of Mr. Adeti’s personal ties with Dr. Awoonor-Williams. While we do not have issues with whom Mr. Adeti chooses to associate with, he is not expected to compromise the ethics of journalism for self-gains. In fact, Mr. Adeti has severally praise-song Dr. Koku Awoonor -Williams and associated himself with the purported Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health that he mentions in his article to say that Dr. Awoonor-Williams provided continuous support for. Understandably, this is sufficiently substantial and enough motivating benefit worth Mr. Adeti protecting. Not all journalists with good appetite will fail to carve in this way. We prefer not to speculate what other more gains could be causing Mr. Adeti’s palm to be itchy enough to continue scribbling slanderous attacks on BONABOTO in defense of the five vehicles taken away from the very Region that Mr. Adeti seeks to portray he is so concerned about.

What Mr. Adeti may or may not be aware of is that our CSO never had an issue with Dr. Awoonor-Williams during his working stay in the Upper East Region. In fact, BONABOTO worked with Dr. Awoonor-Williams to secure lands at Sherigu, a suburb of Bolgatanga and Winkogo, a suburb of Tongo during the height of our campaign for the possible development of a new regional hospital for the Upper East Region and a municipal hospital for the Bolgatanga Municipality. Again, BONABOTO was called on and worked with Dr. Awoonor-Williams during early stages of the ongoing reconstruction works at the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital to settle land issues between contractors of the project and land owners. More so, our working relations were so good that when the then Regional Minister, Hon. Mark Owen Woyongo, had working relational issues with Dr. Awoonor-Williams, our organisation intervened and mediated to resolve all outstanding matters between the two men. What then could ever be BONABOTO’s motive in seeking Dr. Awoonor-Williams transfer out of the Upper East Region as claimed by Adeti’s article? Mr. Adeti may want to learn that the transfer of public servants in Ghana is not the responsibility of BONABOTO. Indeed, Dr. Awoonor-Williams was transferred to take over from his predecessor in the Upper East Region who had also been moved elsewhere. Someone else had to be transferred to take over Dr. Awoonor-Williams’s previous office. Did BONABOTO have hands in such transfers of the Public Officers? What then has BONABOTO got to do with a subsequent promotional transfer of Dr. Awoonor-Williams from Upper East Region to the National Headquarters in Accra? Certainly, BONABOTO does not determine how long public officers should stay in office before their transfer. That is not BONABOTO’s business. If Dr. Awoonor-Williams did weep as he left Upper East Region on transfer to Accra, then it probably was because he was going to be missing the enormous support that he enjoyed from BONABOTO.

In fact, BONABOTO only got wind of the missing vehicles through Mr. Adeti’s own article which was published after Dr. Awoonor-Williams had left the Upper East on transfer to the Headquarters in Accra. Despite our good working relations with Dr. Awoonor-Williams, one thing remains, that BONABOTO does not compromise principles with relationships and would not defend wrong at any time.

One would have thought that, Mr. Adeti’s eulogy of Dr. Awoonor-Williams’s achievements as Upper East Regional Health Director of Health Services implies his interest in publishing on positive developmental issues. The question then arises why he has never published on BONABOTO Educational Assistance Fund (BEAF), a scholarship awarded to brilliant but needy students at both second cycle and tertiary levels that was until recently limited to only tertiary students following the free SHS programme? Is Mr. Adeti aware of BONBOTO donations of 130 personal computers (PCs) to second cycle institutions and district/municipal resource centers in its catchment area to enhance ICT teaching and learning? BONABOTO UK branch in consultation with the Regional Hospital in its equipment needs, only in August 2020, donated three brand new ultramodern incubators at a total cost of US$20,000.00 to the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital to enhance the care and survival of preterm babies in the Region. Maybe, that too is yet to catch the attention of the self-styled level journalist. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, BONABOTO donated equipment and materials through the Regional Health Directorate to all five districts in its catchment area and composed a Covid-19 preventive jingle in Gurune that was aired with the support of several radio stations in the Upper East Region. That as well could not catch Mr. Adeti’s attention. It is impossible to list even one-hundredth of BONABOTO interventions in the various sectors of its catchment area, all financed by personal contributions of members, yet Mr. Adeti only has the worse of twisted false stories to tell about BONABOTO each time. If this is not premeditated bias by Mr. Adeti, then what an inadvertent coincidence that it must be.

From where we stand, we condemn without reservation, the controversial naming of the publicly funded in-service training centre after Dr. Koku Awoonor-Williams and we have reason to doubt that due diligence was followed. The competence of the Upper East Regional Health Council (UERHC) is not in doubt. It would be surprising therefore, if they were involved in taking such decision to name the in-service training centre at a time that BONABOTO is still working to retrieve the five vehicles taken away from the very same Upper East Regional Health Directorate. What is such renaming supposed to glorify? Simply put, the timing and implication of such controversial naming is damning, hypocritic and unpatriotic.

Dr. Andrews Akolaa
(President, National)


Dr. E. Agurgo Balfour (Chairman, Upper East Region)

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