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Opinions of Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh

Dr Omane Boamah should learn to read news beyond the headlines

When the NDC lost power, one of the people singled out for blame was the then Minister of Communications, Dr Omane Boamah.

During his time as Communications Minister, he failed to set the agenda for the national discourse, the opposition dominated the government in the media and made the elections about them and their policies.

It was so obvious that the Former President tagged some media houses as a cabal that had decided not to inform Ghanaians about his ‘numerous achievements’.

What he forgot to notice was the square polls of a Doctor he had placed in the round hole of Communication.

In his tour of the Volta Region earlier this year, astute politicians Alban Bagbin pointed out the former minister as one of the weak links when the party was in power and key contributor to their defeat in 2016. As usual of Ghana, he was misunderstood, misrepresented and insulted.

Despite priding ourselves with the Queen’s language, comprehension and in most cases, detailed reading remains a problem in this country and so again, Alban Bagbin is facing a similar bashing bourn largely out of the laziness and incompetence of those attacking him.

The poor reading culture of today’s Ghana is so alarming that it needs to be treated as a national problem by any government seriously seeking to broaden the horizon and critical thinking prowess of the people.

The first day of December each year is dedicated to drawing awareness on HIV/AIDS. This year, the theme for celebration given by World Health Organisation was: Know Your Status.

Statistics from Ghana Aids Commission indicates that infection had increased by 70% this year despite concerns about the reluctance and outright refusal of many to be tested.

While Chairing Proceedings as the Speaker, Members of Parliaments expressed concerns about the spread of the disease and also lack of interest on the part of the people to know their status. Making an input, the Second Deputy Speaker suggested that it should be made compulsory for persons seeking to be MPs or Presidents to get tested so that Ghanaians come to accept the essence of getting tested.

To honourable Bagbin, if the leaders do this, the citizenry are bound to follow suit because the fear in doing same will be reduced. He went further to indicate why HIV?AIDS has to be demystified because there exist many other diseases deadlier and that the earlier people get tested, the better it is for their general wellbeing in future.

He suggested the compulsory testing in relation to encouraging people to do same and not necessarily to use status as basis for qualifying people.

Everyone who listened to everything he said understood it this way.

Most media platforms headlined their articles on his submission as: “Presidential and Parliamentary candidates must get tested for HIV/AIDS- Bagbin”

As common with our part of the world, many people after reading the headline felt empowered to rain insult on Alban Bagbin and called him all sort of names. The few who did read and understood what he meant tried drawing the attention of the almost out of control majority.

Social Media is a street with many smart and countless not so smart people, it is therefore okay to accept such pedestrian attitude to reading and comprehending the message of anothers.

But Omane Boamah, a former minister of information took this to a whole new low by calling on the Aspiring NDC Candidate to get his brains screened over his comment.

Like the street, the former minister either didn’t read beyond the headline or failed to comprehend what should rather pass as a commendable suggestion.

Once upon a time, this man was in charge of the entire nation’s information, a man who vents his anger after reading headlines and not informed about the fact that the devil of every written piece is in the detail was paid as the PR of government. As someone who has handled information in this country, dealt with the media on countless occasions as a minister, I expected Dr Omane Boamah to rise above the pedestrian approach and make input from informed position.

But no, that is not his strong point and he demonstrated why he was so poor a communications minister that the president had to shift the blame to a non-existent media cabal at the time.

It is however time the people we call leaders learn to rise from petty politics and display class when approaching issues.

In this country, we have too many politicians eager to talk even when uninformed and I believe the earlier we put a stop to it, the better it is for elevating the national discourse and keeping the citizenry properly informed.

As a Ghanaian, I believe I will be greatly encouraged to see my MP get tested for HIV/AIDS even if his status is treated with confidentiality. As we speak, many people innocent of the fact that they are positive are going about infecting others. We need to take a drastic step and I believe there is nothing more compelling than seeing our leaders subject themselves to this process.

Maybe Hon Bagbin is too deep to be understood that he needs to come down to the level where the likes of Omane Boamah can understand him.

As far as his call for leadership to take the first step on HIV?AIDS test is concerned though, I have no idea how low he should go to meet the comprehension capacity of some of the people who saw this as the most irresponsible suggestion ever.

Maybe someone needs an interpreter.