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Opinions of Thursday, 30 August 2018

Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah

A bag bin of truths; Bagbin’s blind spot or ours?

You cannot hold a man against his views; release Alban Bagbin – and let him go!

‘What I said was that certain wrong decisions were made in placing or assigning some government appointees,’ Alban Bagbin, second deputy speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, read from his prepared speech Tuesday in reaction to the latest media craze in Ghana.

He continued, ‘This wrong placement cost the NDC some votes’.

Some media houses on Tuesday reported that Alban Bagbin ‘took responsibility’ for his earlier speech on a presidential primary campaign in the Volta Region earlier this month which has got the whole of Ghana talking.

Those media houses have been very generous to him.

Others, like old Pharaoh, will not let Bagbin go.

‘I cited three ministers to illustrate my point and stated that they were all very brilliant and capable persons but they were assigned to inappropriate Ministries,’ Bagbin explained.

It’s the season of truth-telling- all over the world. No kidding.

Pope Francis returned from Ireland to Italy on Tuesday with a bag bin of truths.

Truths about sexual abuses within the Catholic church including complicity at the highest level to cover it up.

He was told about the atrocities openly, publically and in plain English.

The Guardian of the UK reported that there’ve been abuses in most religions throughout the world- abuses which have been exposed.

‘Cases emerge from mandrassas, yeshivas, temples, mosques and churches with warnings that they are just a tip of the iceberg,’ wrote Polly Tonybee on www.theguardian.com on Tuesday. ‘Wherever a community is in thrall to elders of faith that defines their identity, few dare risk the threat of expulsion from a way of life.’

Now back to Ghana and Bagbin.

As I sat at his latest press conference in South La listening to the NDC flagbearer hopeful speak, I noticed the following.

He was seated with disabled persons and with a campaign banner behind him, displaying the tagline, ‘Dependable Inclusive Honest’.

I kept asking myself, ‘But for this media furore, what have Bagbin’s opponents and the media against him so far in this campaign’?

Do Bagbin’s 25 years as an MP and political heavyweight mirror the brand image his tagline portrays?

The media record reveals that he was minister for water resources, works and housing.

He had been in charge of the implementation of the aborted STX housing deal, with then vice president John Mahama being reported as the man championing the deal.

‘Why don’t Bagbin’s opponents rather use this against him and get his response?’ our marketing and media monitoring manager asked rhetorically.

‘Because John Mahama, his main challenger, was also involved in this deal,’ he answered himself.

‘This is what the media should be addressing instead of wasting hours discussing a truthful statement someone has made,’ another officer stated as he proceeded to explain to us the symbolic meaning of being blind. ‘There’re persons with full sight who have signed away millions of the tax payers monies and wasted it.

If we ever get to interview Alban Bagbin, he will have to tell us what he did for health, water and sanitation when he was minister,’ was my quip.

‘Honesty meets truth and logic,’ will be the brand tag, we joked.

Bagbin met and spoke with party people in the Volta region where he spoke of the inappropriate appointments of Dr Seidu Danaa, a blind man as chieftaincy and culture minister in a nation where chiefs cannot meet and shake hands with physically disabled persons.

He also spoke of the appointment of Dr Omane Boamah, someone who stammers as communications minister, who spent hours speaking for government through the electronic media.

He also said Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, as a young National Union of Ghana Students president, had attacked the university authorities of his day and they had spoken harshly against him.

It was therefore inappropriate to have made him minister for tertiary education.

This Alban Bagbin stated was part of the bag bin of truths which led to the NDC’s defeat in the 2016 elections as contained in his party’s own report on the matter.

‘Is it the truth?’ the Rotary motto flashed back into my memory.

Did Bagbin defame or malign anyone?

It is on record that George W Bush, former US president, privately described in colourful and uncomplimentary language a reporter named Adam Clymer.

The comments got into the public domain; numerous complaints followed.

What was George Bush’s reaction?

He responded that it was unfortunate that such comments of his should be broadcast for children to hear.

For that he apologises, because children should not hear him make such comments on air.

But as regards his colourful and uncomplimentary description of the reporter, he stood by his words.

Bush owned his truth!

We should also man up and own the truth Trump spoke about us.

We need people who speak the truth as it is and stand up for what they believe in and take responsibility for their bag bin of truths as Bagbin has done.

In a country were able bodies and full sighted persons are bootlicking officialdom for jobs; the media will not talk consistently and emphatically about social welfare for the disabled, but have devoted an inordinate amount of space and effort to Bagbin’s comments.

Have the media and Bagbin’s opponents become the blind leading the blind?

Have we in today’s piece defamed and scandalized the ‘untouchable’ Ghanaian media?

Only time will tell.

Email: ato@writersghana.com.