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Opinions of Thursday, 9 May 2002

Columnist: Aidoo, Ato

Irresponsible Journalism vs. Patience.

In the latter days of the Rawlings era, I read with respect an article, which Kwaku Sakyi-Addo wrote. That article was channeled to us in North America through Myjoyonline. Against the backdrop of political errors and lack of direction on the part of the government, Sakyi-Addo stated “ sometimes I feel like taking over the administration of this country“. The problems and errors he catalogued warranted such a take-over based on Kwaku’s unbiased analysis. In response e-mail to Kwaku, I congratulated him, urging well-minded journalists to follow his path.

Recently, I read another story, that the Kufour administration has established an unholy alliance with the media. Kwamina Ahwoi, former local government and economic integration minister was quoted as saying. This makes me sick, the statement coming from a man I once singled out as one of the best amongst the “brains” behind Rawlings’ government.

Basically, the role of every media is to inform, entertain, and educate the people, while not deviating from its watchdog role provided under a constitution.

A macroscopic view of the political history of Ghana clearly brings out a difference, that while the kufour administration is injecting moral legitimacy into democracy, the Rawlings government defined democracy its way, and used it as a tool of oppression against people suspected of having dissimilar views as regards government policy.

Arrogance and vindictiveness were at play, while power was misused, alienating otherwise useful citizens to recoil and adopt a “wait-and-see attitude”. Some intellectuals just refused to work with the Rawlings government. Some also deviated, with all respect, with such pronouncements as “why should I work for Rawlings”, forgetting about the larger interest which was at stake.

The bitter truth is that, the NDC government developed a political tsunami, which swept the already weakened financial base of the country. They also wronged many people. This is the truth, which we can learn from, using it as the basis for nurturing a good political path for the future.

In all these, the role of the media shifted and that was a shame too, as editorial salvos were fired toward the government, stories based on half-baked truth, falsehood, and sometimes an iota of truth were peddled in the private or the so-called opposition newspapers with impunity. The government did not want to open up, as the private media adopted a posture of using falsehood to redeem the truth.

The private or “opposition” media was not fair to the Rawlings government, they were brutish and uncompromising as the government itself, while the state-owned and party newspapers, subtly defended government policies.

Most Ghanaians at that time were fed through the rumor mill, and people did not part easily with stories, which were later found to be untrue. Every government, even the ones that believe in democracy have their shortfalls. Ghanaians must equip themselves with this truth- that a government that believes in the rule of law, and protects the rights of the people is a good. That covers many things in a civilized society.

When Jerry Rawlings won the African Leadership Prize on Hunger, I wrote an article -“ When A leader Cares” in one of the Ghanaian newspapers congratulating him and some of his policies aimed at boosting agricultural production. That article did not go down well with many readers.

They lambasted me for writing that article. For two weeks, I was still receiving telephone calls on why I wrote the article to congratulate Rawlings. A pharmacist even refused to sell me a fever medication when the son pointed out that this is the man who wrote the Rawlings article. When I asked them whether Rawlings did not appoint deputy agriculture minister for all the regions, one of the basis for the award, they still insisted that Ghana still imports the bulk of its rice from Asia, and that Rawlings does not deserve the award. But I took solace in professionalism that was responsible journalism.

Irresponsible journalism is emerging in Ghana again, as party or “opposition” newspapers have assumed a role critical of the NPP government. Sometimes their commentaries and investigative stories lack substance and fairness - a representation of journalism at it lowest ebb.

From the former Youth and Sports minister-Mallam Issa’s probe to the Black Star’s bribery allegation in Nigeria during the World Cup qualifying series, the unfair analysis of government performance by Albin Bagbin- the minority leader in parliament, to silly remarks directed toward Aliu Mahama, the vice-president, among others. These are unproductive, and cannot move the country forward.

Sometimes, I feel like refining Sakyi-Addo’s concern with a different flavor. That I want to be a good politician, and be realistic in the way I examine fellow politicians. As for Dan Lartey, I do not take him serious, but Dr. Edward Mahama, the PNC flag bearer, is one of the finest politicians I admire in Ghana today. However, his recent checklist on the economy leaves much to be desired. It makes me feel like taking over the PNC. I cannot understand how the NPP government can get the full pass mark in so short a time.
I cannot fathom Mahama’s declaration that the NPP is the worst government in Ghana’s political history. That statement hits me at the wrong side, and confirms the assertion that Dr.Mahama has become a “political prostitute”. Was it not his party, which formed an alliance with the NPP to unseat the NDC? Mahama was also quoted as saying that his party may form an alliance with NDC to unseat the NPP government in 2004. What a political freak. Dan Lartey is another one, his analytical base is weak, and sometimes his comments seem to be coming from the emotional school of thought than being rational. I respect Goosie Tanoh; he is a good one. Where is he? He is an “asset” for the future.
The new political dispensation, and the new air of peace blowing through Ghana was fought for by men of substance and integrity, their determination guided by the people’s right to live in freedom and prosperity (or poverty?). This has presented to the world the level of Ghana’s political maturity, the sense of purpose of its citizenry. What is left is patience, doing away with old ways of doing things, and turning deaf ears to disgruntled politicians who are only guided by their ego, positioning themselves well in the eyes and thinking of the people and setting an agenda aimed at wrestling the presidency of this great nation.
Ghanaians should watch them with critical eyes; our politics has come of age, and patience should factor in, as time unfolds the best out of the chaotic situation handed over to the present government. With time, they may deliver, and guided by the fact that just a year plus in power would not give us the impetus to judge them fairly.

The author was a features desk team at Daily Graphic in Ghana. He now lives in Massachusette

Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.