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Opinions of Friday, 27 April 2012

Columnist: Bawa, Abdul Razak

Letter To The President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills

Letter To The President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills

Sir,
I consider this as a rare privilege to be able to extend these few lines to you.
Looking at the number of competent hands in your cabinet and government to advice you on what is best to be done, I shudder as I write you this letter.
However, as regarding the issue of your relationship between the former President Jerry John Rawlings, I have been listening to all the arguments for and against it why the relationship is frosty, but I must say there is an angle that is yet to be considered let alone pursued. This is I will bring to your attention in my next letter to you.
The thrust of this letter Mr. President is what I consider an unholy relationship and the unruly and a lackadaisical attitude your government has for the media that is pro-NDC, and I wish to bring it to your attention.
I view you and still consider you as one of the few Ghanaian leaders we have had since independence, with a human face; one of the few that will listen to the concerns of his citizens and supporter and would lean to hear him and respond decisively.
As one who is so much concerned about the success of your government, I believe that just as the popularity of your government is waning because even in opposition the New Patriotic party (NPP), still controls the media and set the agenda for the government to follow. The healing will be accelerated when the relationship between the government and the media is rejuvenated. And who is best to do this than you Mr. President.
Why? To the media has fallen the responsibility of describing the road to travel so a nation does not drive into the ditch, so that a fallen society and political parties can dig them out. The media does this by indefatigably and honestly reporting developments of interest to the community.
This point President John Agyekum Kufuor and the NPP appreciated and understood very well when they were in government and it is why they still have a powerful leverage over the media. Mr. President, you will be the first to admit that politics is not all about winning the argument.
Of the factors, Mr. President that undoubtedly help any government achieve its mission and bring it programmes to the doorstep of the citizenry, the media is the most understated, most especially when it comes to the National Democratic Congress (NDC), of which you are the leader.
Mr. President, when was the last time you tried reading or glancing through pro-NDC newspapers like The Informer, The Daily Post, The Daily Democrat, The Republic, The Ghana Palaver, The Ghanaian Lens, The Herald, the Enquirer etc, what will strike you most, If you will be candid enough Mr. President is, you would notice without a second glance that the papers are without advert, yet they still strive to project government in good light, and this is worrying.
Mr. President have you ever asked yourself how these papers manage to hit the newsstands every day, despite the obvious? Newspapers, Mr. President survive on advert, not sales, and if they are to remain in business and continue doing what they are doing then there is the need for these papers to get adverts to rake in some money for their sustenance!
Mr. President, the papers are struggling to survive. Why do you think it was convenient for the former Attorney –General, Martin Amidu to describe a section of the pro-NDC media as a ‘rented press’? Rightly so, because gradually but slowly, the papers are becoming a tool for the highest bidder, which should not be the case, if our democracy and governance system is to grow.
It is said Mr. President that he who pays the piper calls the tune.
The reason, Mr. President, your government is struggling to be heard, despite your good works, is because, you are not trying hard to cultivate the media and even maintain the few who have decided that good name is better than riches. The NPP is known for appreciating the role of the media.
The pro-NDC press have been described in various terms and mocked at because their contributions to the success of the NDC in opposition and now in government have not been appreciated and rewarded.
Mr. President, nobody is asking for any special treatment but a little of what is due us must come to us.
When the famous Kofi ‘traitor’ Adams tape came out in which he was heard telling Gabby Asare Okyere Darko of the NPP that they will make sure you only end as a one-term President, he (Gabby) upon questioning responded having had so many conversations with Kofi Adams and could not recall the one that was on the tape.
What intrigued me most about his response was when he said even you (President Mills) called him after the Sunyani Congress. The question I asked myself was how many of the pro-NDC press editors were called after the Congress, and how many have you ever called since you became the head of state.
Someone even jokingly said, you don’t have their phone numbers.
Prior to this, at your meet the editors series earlier this year, when the Coffee Shop Mafia, for strange and inexplicable reasons all had cause to absent themselves, went and sat on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo Show, they had the audacity to boast about how many times you had called them personally and sometimes through your aid.
Ordinarily, I won’t be bothered about it, but Mr. President, what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander.
Even despite your offer of friendliness and gesture to the Coffee Shop Mafia, they still spite you and wished you had lost the 2008 elections and fervently wish now that the 2012 elections see you out of the castle.
Have you ever had time to read the Daily Guide, the New Crusading Guide, the Chronicle, etc, and have you bothered to count the number of advert they get. It is looking like a case of empowering your enemy to fight you.
Mr. President, we are not for a moment saying these papers don’t deserve the adverts, after all, there are also Ghanaians, there also have bills to pay, and what is more, for any democracy to thrive you need the opposition newspapers to point out your flaws and bring out the best in you, so that you don’t think all is well.
Mr. President, what we are asking for is our share of what goes to them.
Mr. President, what hurts me most is the current biometric voter’s registration exercise under-taken by the Electoral Commission (EC). Do you know that considering such a national exercise when the advert came to be shared the pro-NDC newspapers were left out? This is not an annual exercise it only comes once a while whenever they is the need to reform why are we the pro-NDC papers too not considered? Is it our fault that we have decided to put our weight behind you?
In conclusion, Mr. President in December last year, we waited and waited for a Christmas card or a diary or a calendar from you but it never came. Something we could also keep as a memorabilia and show to our children that once upon a time when you were the President you remembered our contribution to your government and our democracy.
As a stickler of principles and preacher of fairness, and someone who rewardsw loyalty, would you say Mr. President that it was the best thing to do?.
I believe you will look at this as coming from one who is not only out to survive, but to make his own little contribution to the growth and well-being of this great nation of ours, Ghana.
This is the first of many letters Mr. President I would be writing to you as we approach the December elections.
Mr. President, you pay people around you to tell you what you want to hear, I am paid to tell the truth, and the truth I would tell you anytime I write to you. I hope you would find the time to read.

May God lead you in the path of justice, fairness and truth.

God bless you,
God bless Ghana,

Your citizen,
Abdul Razak Bawa