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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Columnist: Mohammed Amin Lamptey

Communication Department of Hajj Board must watch out

In the Name of Allah The Most Gracious The Most Merciful.

Let me first of all greet you with the special greetings of Assalamun Alaikum waramatullahi wabarakatu….

I deem it imperative to author this piece as a matter of concern to help preserve the sanctity of Journalism and communication skills within the perimeters of hajj operations in Ghana.

It must be made clear to any qualified or unqualified Journalist the need to respect and abide by the professional code of ethics when conducting anything related to the noble profession.

Every qualified or unqualified Journalist must be conversant with the rules especially the 3 basic concepts of journalisms…. Professional responsibility, Legal responsibility and Social responsibility.

Hajj operations is not an event but a process and thus it would be unrealistic and illogical for any person be it a journalist, pundit,
commentator or analyst to prematurely give conclusive statement on the performance of individuals and that of the Hajj Board.

I respectfully want to appeal to the head of communications at the Hajj Board, as a matter of urgency to immediately stop all individuals masquerading as journalists or members of the communications department from the misleading reports and poor communication delivery.

Effective communication is the heartbeats of every organization especially hajj operations in Ghana. The moment communication on hajj pilgrimage is compromised, rest assured that misinformation,
misconceptions, fake news and propaganda would then dominate and eventually distort the link between the Board and the general public.

I was very reluctant to author this piece but upon second thought especially with the spate of negative and poor write-ups flying across the social media, I found it very necessary to express my concern so as to help arrest the phenomenon.

Journalism is a respected profession with guidelines as to what to write, how to write and how to transmit or report.

In communication, you are equally trained to abide by certain critical cardinal formulas in your work especially with your engagement with the general public to help maintain trust, reliability, objectivity and fairness.

Image repair or damage control is a branch in Public Relations that has been described as very technical. A communicator is therefore often advised to be very meticulous and circumspect when venturing into it.

As a humble Journalist, Marketer, Communicator and PR person, I find it highly disgusting and unpardonable how some individuals all of sudden have awashed the social media with poor commentaries and updates on Hajj 2018 with no regards to professional ethics.

It’s important for the Communication Department of the Hajj Board to acknowledge their role as very sensitive and must develop system of control under one leader to avoid any untold story in future.

Any communicator of Hajj Operations who doesn’t know that it is premature to conclude that hajj 2018 organization is the best ever, the hajj board chairman is doing great things and the head of medical is performing wonders should be rewriting his or her script as a qualified communicator because the end would always justify the means.

Until the process of hajj pilgrimage is over, a communicator CANNOT preempt any final outcome of it because it’s not an event.

The responsibility of the communication team is to provide updates on the welfare of Pilgrims and their movements for the rituals from Madina-Maccah-Mina-Arafa-Mudzalifa-Mina-Jamarat-Mina-Makkah-Jeddah-Accra.

It’s equally important to also appreciate the challenges of luggage weigh-in, accommodation, casualties and flight schedules hence the need for the communicators to strategically manage and control information flow to avoid any unbearable embarrassment.

I have the privilege of serving the PAOG Communications Department for 4 years as the Deputy Communications Director under Hon. Alhaji Alhassan Suhuyini (MP, Tamale North) and indeed all we did at the time was to take control of information flow, provided accurate updates, ignored negative stories from detractors, clarified any misconceptions and above all accepted mishaps or mistakes and apologised on behalf of the Board.

I therefore wish to encourage the current Communications Department to quickly halt any peripheral 2018 hajj updates for their own good.
The praise singing for the Chairman, Hon. I.C Quaye by some elements within the Board and outside the Board would live to destroy or discredit him eventually.

We need to also depoliticise hajj matters for the sake of Allah, Islam and nation.

In conclusion, I will like to advise those singing praises on Hajj 2018 organization to also consider the complaints made by some Pilgrims and observers in Tamale, Accra and in Saudi Arabia regarding alleged poor organization, corruption, favoritism, lack of accommodation in Makkah and the leftovers as normal issues in all Hajj operations but it depends on the Communications Department to shape opinions and manage anxieties as it were for the betterment of all.

Hajj operations is a process and not an event. The poor PR must stop!!!

To Allah be the Glory.