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Opinions of Friday, 19 January 2018

Columnist: Gordon Offin-Amaniampong

Akufo-Addo and the media: Is the president media-friendly?

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo speaking to Journalists at the Flagstaff House President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo speaking to Journalists at the Flagstaff House

Never leave the market or shop empty-handed when going home, if you’ve kids lest they may go bananas.

By the way, did I hear there was another ‘Meet the Press’ this mid-week? Yes, there sure was another, but it’s come and gone. It is Akufo-Addo-government’s second within a year. The first one was held in July 2017 seven months after he was inducted into office as the 5th president of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.

While scavenging the city, I discovered Makola Market was closed, likewise the malls. Even West Hill Mall the biggest in West Africa was closed too. Why? I blame nobody, it was all my fault. I didn’t show up early. But how could I? It would have caused me a fortune to jet from the US to GH—the land of the friendliest people.

Nonetheless, I was able to lay hands on a few chocolates. I’d reminded myself not to return home without giving the young ones something. Sure, they’d love to see that after being tossed out from the kraals (The Fulanis), Galamsey activity, the GITMO furnace to Ghana beyond Aid…The first one is the GITMO guys. Guantanamo is a mouthful name. It’s officially known as Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. It’s a United States Military Base located on 45 square miles of land and water at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Perhaps majority of you are used to only the acronym—GITMO. Yes, that’s where Ghana received her two guests from.

And they’ve been living with us since 2016. When I met them the last time they told me: “We love Ghana. And we don’t want to leave here.” Supposedly, their stay of permit has expired. But what next are we keeping them here? If not when are they going and to where? At the meet, the press on Wednesday a journalist put that read meat in the president’s bowl. Meanwhile, the status of the two former GITMO captives wouldn’t be known until Ghana’s Parliament comes back from recess, President Akufo-Addo told the press.

Fulani Menace

Menacingly, they’ve been a thorn in the flesh of Ghanaians. The Fula people or Fulani as Ghanaians know are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Sahel and West Africa, widely dispersed across the region. The Fula people are traditionally believed to have roots in peoples from North Africa and the Middle East who intermingled later with local West African ethnic groups. As shepherds or cattle rearers, they often move from one place to another. In Ghana they’re largely known to be concentrated in the Afram Plains and Asante Akyem Agogo area in the Eastern and Ashanti regions.

But their advent in these areas has been nothing but terror. Their threatening behaviour has often triggered public outcry. And in the past there’d been suggestions from among a section of the populace that they (the Fulanis) must be evicted. Efforts to halt their menacing act have yielded no positive results---not in the past and not to date. It’s understood the Kufuor-administration established kraals as way of containing them, somehow it failed. Mr. Akufo-Addo said government views the Fulani menace as a serious issue. “I think a comprehensive policy has to be put in place to deal with the problem.” In the meantime, he pointed out that the administration is restoring the kraals in Afram Plains as a measure to quarantine their movement.

Galamsey Activity

At least I counted three or so journalists that seek to know what the president was doing to end Galamsey activity in the country. Did he think he could stop the illegal miners? There was also a rumour that government plans to lift the ban on their activities this January. These were some of the concerns and questions that were thrown at the president. Of course, everyone knows the devastation Galamsey activity has caused the country: They range from the wanton pollution of our water bodies, degradation of lands, soil, to the depletion of the forests and many more.

I’ve given Galamsey a couple of names in my previous articles. The ‘Undying Witch’ is one of them. Illegal mining appears to be one of the biggest problems that confront this government. And I applaud the administration for taking the right steps to fighting this problem. So far, it seems everything is going well. However, there’s need also to do some tweaks. Sometimes we pursue the fly in the forest and leave the giant elephant.

There are absolutely big guys behind this demon that’s driving Ghana’s environment to hell. And I think if this government is able to tame this giant in the forest by end of its first four years it would be seen as a major achievement or a plus for the administration. It’s a tough battle which is why all hands must on the deck. Let’s not leave Ghana into the hands of the selfish few or self-centered individuals who think there’s no tomorrow.

Ghana beyond Aids

Is this possible? My answer is yes, it is possible. It’s a matter of time and putting our hearts and minds to it. We’re oft’ told Rome wasn’t built in a day, which is absolutely true. What’s the way to go? There should be a deliberate effort in pursuing this objective, I think. The president said we must create institutions that would help us to make right decisions among others. This was a question I think that perhaps took the president by surprise. And I give credit to the journalist who fired the salvo. He’d asked the President to walk Ghanaians through the steps his government was taking to achieving that Ghana beyond Aid statement.

Of course ‘cash for seats’ also reared its head at the venue. And the president for the first time commenting on the issue in public said he knew nothing about it. According to him he was ‘surprise.’ Mr. Kwesi Pratt Managing Editor of Insight newspaper had sought to know whether the president wasn’t sort of jumping the gun when the Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry was looking into the matter. However Mr. Akufo-Addo maintained he’s with the conviction that nothing untoward happened.

‘What the Trade Minister told me is not different from what he told the committee of enquiry.’

Is the President Media-friendly?

I think he’s demonstrated that in the first year since his assumption into office. Fact is not many presidents or world leaders are able to face the media.But perhaps it’s also too early to come to that conclusion. So let keep our fingers crossed and observe how he’ll relate to them in the coming years.

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