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Opinions of Monday, 19 January 2009

Columnist: Arthur, A. K.

How 'Praise Him, Praise Him' Journalists ....

... Contributed To The Downfall Of N.P.P. In The 2008 Elections

Chapter 12 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana clearly defines the role of the media in the country.

The media is supposed to be the watchdog for the people and put every government on its toes.

The media offers communication, information, education and entertainment to the masses.

The plurality of the media in Ghana is not for fun or selfish interest but to serve the people. Journalists are supposed to be the ears and mouths of the people.

However, it is obvious that politics has taken the centre stage of most of the activities of the press in the country.

Most journalists have openly aligned themselves to one political party or the other. It is their right to belong to any political party of their choice but not to the detriment of the masses.

The 2008 elections have shown clearly that we have two major political parties in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party (N.P.P.) and the National Democratic Congress (N.D.C.)

It is obvious that the NPP enjoys support from a greater section of the media in the country, especially the private press than NDC.

As a public relations practitioner, journalist and member of the Ghana Journalists Association, I know how the media front is sharply divided between the NPP and NDC.

However, I can say without mincing words that the pro-NPP journalists contributed immensely to the downfall of the NPP in the 2008 elections. WHY?

Having won the 2000 and 2004 elections the NPP was deceived by the pro-NPP journalists that all was well. These journalists continued to sing “praise him, praise him” to the Kufuor Administration even when things were easy for the ordinary Ghanaian.

Some of these journalists in the private sector used their media to only portray the NPP and ex-President Kufuor as angels from heaven.

They did that not because they loved the NPP. No.

Some could not even sell five hundred copies of their newspaper per publication but because they were on “pay roll” of the NPP they continued to write stories that made the party swollen headed.

Whilst the TV3 station was constantly reporting on real life situation of Ghanaians in terms of poverty, disease, hunger, lack of accessible roads, lack of proper educational facilities, lack of adequate health care and lack of other amenities in many parts of the country, the “praise him, praise him” journalists were devoting most of their reports in praise of the NPP government.

Whilst the 79 year-old lady at my village, Egyam in the Ahanta West District of the Western Region was thinking of getting just one meal a day, the “praise him, praise him” journalists were hopping from one radio station to the other like a grasshopper speaking big English all in praise of the Kufuor Administration.

Whilst the struggling fisherman at Moree in the Central Region was thinking of getting premix fuel to enable him to go fishing to make ends meet for himself and his family, the “halleluyah halleluyah” journalists were busily scrambling for per diem on Presidential travels.

Whilst most pensioners had to travel from their villages and towns to Accra several times and wait for over one year before they could get their end of service benefits, the pro-NPP journalists were on radio stations defending corrupt practices of some NPP functionaries.

Whilst the few journalists who were critical of the NPP government were tagged and branded as enemies of the party, the “praise him, praise him” journalists were being rewarded with national gold chains and fat envelopes for good job done.

So long as the “praise him praise him” journalists were receiving their monthly stipend and honorarium from the NPP government, they did exactly what the government wanted to hear and that led to the party’s failure to win the 2008 elections.

Some were even sponsored to fly around the world to investigate alleged foreign bank accounts of ex-President Rawlings and some of his former Ministers of state.

Whilst “The Enquirer” newspaper was the sole crusader against the immoral and disgraceful act of Dr. Richrad Anane the “praise him, praise him” journalists saw nothing wrong with what the Dr, Anane did.

Yes, the “praise him, praise him” journalists saw nothing wrong with a medical doctor, Dr. Anane who was the Minister of Health having been sponsored with the tax payer’s money to attend an international conference on AIDS in South Africa and coming back with a baby after he had opened his zip throughout the conference. Haaba!

To these journalists, when it came to anything bad against the NPP government, it was, “hear no evil, see no evil, and say no evil”.

How could hey raise their voices against the NPP government when some of them suddenly changed their names and stopped reciting “Hail Mary, full of Grace……” and started saying “Allah hu Akbar” so that they could get government sponsorship to take the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

If the Kufuor-led NPP government had paid heed to the ‘bottom-top’ stories which were being reported by TV3, The Enquirer, The Chronicle, Radio Gold among others, instead of being content with the ‘top-bottom’ news which were reported by GBC-GTV, other state-owned press houses and pro-NPP journalists, they could have easily won the 2008 elections one touch.

If the NPP government had not been swayed by the “praise him, praise him” journalists and had acted on the ‘bottom-top’ stories, Nana Akuffo Addo might have been laughing “haha haha haha haha!’ at the Jubilee House.

But because their bread was being buttered by the government, the pro-NPP journalists continued to tell the NPP that Ghanaians were very pleased with the party’s performance and that the 2008 was going to be cool chop for the NPP.

After Dr. Afari Gyan had finally declared Professor Atta Mills as the President-elect in the 2008 elections, I heard one of the “praise him, praise him” journalists on Joy FM saying, “The unthinkable has happened. The unimaginable has happened” He said he never thought or imagined that the NDC would ever come back to power.

Yes, if honey is flowing from the beehive into your mouth, you never think or imagine that one day the bees will migrate to another forest and the honey will stop to flow.

The NPP had learnt a bitter lesson from those journalists who called themselves political analysts and never told the government real situation about how the ordinary Ghanaian was finding life difficult.

They devoted most of their newspaper and air space on negative stories about the NDC while the NPP was displaying the “allan cash” antics during the party’s election of its presidential candidate for the 2008 elections.

Ghanaians were patiently waiting for December 7, 2008 to come so that they could show the NPP the power of the thumb and they did exactly that.

I would like to urge TV 3, The Enquirer, The Chronicle, Radio Gold and the others to continue with their good job irrespective of which political party that is in power.

They should let the NDC government know when things are not going on well for the old lady at Dzelukope, the herdsman at Sawla, the farmer at Ejura Sekyeredumase, the school teacher at Dixcove, the palm wine tapper at Esuehyia, the Policeman at Peminase, the market woman at Tuabodom, the fisherman at Shama, the schoolboy at Donkorkrom, the galamsey guy at Prestea, the trotro driver at Kwesimintsim, the taxi driver at Ayigya and on and on and on and on and on.

They should be critical of the NDC government if it fails to do what is expected in terms of corruption, mismanagement, human rights abuses, favouritism, nepotism, and failure to fulfill campaign promises.

I hope the NDC government would take such stories and criticisms in good faith and act promptly to fix them.

Ghanaians are watching and come December 7, 2012 the power of the thumb will be shown again.

The Professor Mills-led NDC government should not be distracted by the disappointed “praise him, praise him” pro- NPP journalists who have sworn heaven and earth to destroy the NDC.

They are now going to behave like a tiger which is already on heat and has been given Viagra. You can imagine how such a tiger would behave toward the tigress.

The NDC must also be aware of pro-NDC journalists who will be singing “halleluyah, halleluyah” for the NDC.

They will be singing the praises not because they love the NDC. Most of them want their bread to be buttered, enjoy per diem during presidential travels, among other benefits.

The Public Affairs Directorate of the presidency must pay equal attention to every media report either in favour or against the NDC government.

May I use this opportunity to advise President Mills to call Victor Smith to order. Personally, I think that man must not go nearer to the Presidency.

We all know how Victor Smith suffered castigation when the NPP was in power. He may be habouring the desire to display acts of vengeance on former NPP officials and functionaries and that can go against the NDC government.

Once again, may take this chance to suggest to President Mills to invite Ex-Presidents Rawlings and Kufour to a special presidential lunch or dinner at the jubilee house. Thank you in advance, Pres. Mills.

By Ex- Chief Inspector A. K. Arthur

Virginia, U.S.A.