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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 December 2005

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

One More Down For Raymond Archer

Harona Esseku, the out-going chairman of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), by not attending and not contesting for his re-election of the chairmanship of the just ended National Delegated Conference of the NPP at the University of Ghana, Legon in the wake of the thunderstorm he created by alleging that the Kufuor Castle is the centre of kickbacks, reveals the impact of the interview he had with Raymond Archer, the editor of the Accra-based ?The Enquirer.? Still, the fact that the Kufuor Castle?s ?preferred choices of national officers all lost hands down? at the congress despite assorted covert efforts by the Kufuor Castle to influence executives to be elected at the congress, also could be seen from the impact of Archer?s Castle kickback expose` on Esseku and the Kufuor Castle. With Ghanaians becoming increasingly politically sophisticated and aware of the implications of corruption in their development process, Peace FM reported that, the NPP delegates, unlike years past, ?refused to sell their conscience for monies and hence elected members of their own choice.?

This is despite Esseku?s explanation that ?there is nothing untoward or undemocratic about his failure to present himself at the just-ended national delegate?s conference of the NPP.? Though Esseku, who loves the NPP greatly, may have ?what it takes to take his own decision and that nobody forced him to resign,? the thunderstorm he created by talking loosely to Archer, made be for not getting enough of the alleged kickback cuts from his cohorts at the Castle, made him make his decision, with the added psychological pressure from cohorts, and that forced him to resign. Before all the Castle kickback outrage Esseku had campaigned vigorously for re-election.

Heavily shamed by his allegations, which is good for Ghana?s on-going democratic development, the fact that as national chairman of the NPP, Esseku, a matured man at 71, did not show up at the very important national congress of a party he has been with for the past 40 years ?to give account of his stewardship and to swear in the new executives? but also bless it and it?s new executives, as is the traditional with all major political parties throughout the world, demonstrates the impact of Archer?s journalistic work on Esseku and the NPP. By taking such a painfully serious ?decision in the larger interest of the party? not only to attend and bless the big congress but also redrew from the chairmanship race he was sure of winning, from his experienced estimates, ?so as to ensure its coherence,? Esseku, once again, reveals how the Archer-Castle-kickback investigative expose`, is forcing the NPP and other anti-corruption institutions to awaken itself in the larger progress of Ghana.

By practically forcing Esseku to step aside from the NPP chairmanship race he claim he was sure of winning before the national congress, Raymond Archer, 29, has, once again, brought down another ?Big Man,? just as he fell Alhaji Moctar Bamba, a former deputy minister of presidential affairs, for corrupt deals later in the year. So who is Raymond Archer who is rocking Ghana?s development process? Archer, the Managing Editor of ?The Enquirer,? who led the investigations into the ?Castle Hijacks Kickback,? is no stranger to thunderstorms that comes after such explosive publications of national and international scale. In fact, considering the gravity of such an expose` and Archer?s remarkable background as one of the best investigative journalists in the world, Esseku?s fall reveals Archer?s skills in handling the uproars that come with such big stories. A former acting editor and investigative journalist for the Accra-based ?The Ghanaian Chronicle,? the largest independent daily newspaper in Ghana, Archer is a graduate of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and a fellow of the prestigious Marquette University/Les Aspen Centre for Government in Wisconsin, USA. In 2002, Archer won both the prestigious Global Medal and the African Prize of the 2002 Lorenzo Natali Prize for Excellence in Journalism sponsored by the European Union (EU) and the International Federation of Journalists. Archer, founder and executive director of the Accra-based Ghana Center for Public Integrity, an investigative journalism and public accountability outfit, is a board member of the West African Organization for Democracy and Governance.

Furthermore, Archer?s investigative journalism credentials are further enriched by the fact that he was co-winner of the 2001 Best West African Journalism, an award sponsored by the West African Journalists Association and the International Federation of Journalists, and best Investigative Reporter, 2001, an award sponsored by ?The Ghanaian Chronicle.? Lately, Archer was decorated with the Best Investigative Journalists of the Year Award for 2001-2002 by the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) and is measured as ?the youngest journalist to win such an award.?

In the build up to the "Castle Hijacks Kickbacks,? Archer has some enviably excellent investigative journalism experiences to fall on. Among long lists of investigative reports that have brought the mighty down, as we have seen in the fall Esseku, Archer won the Gold Medal for three investigative articles he wrote: "Ex-Minister in deportation scam", "Tragedy of youth deported for cash" and "Swedish Minister Resigns over Amarki scam," all published in ?The Ghanaian Chronicle.? The "Ex-Minister in deportation scam" piece, which had international impact, rocked the government of Sweden. The Award cited Archer for "high-quality reports exposing a deportation syndicate" and said Archer "employed excellent journalistic skills."

The Award jury also noted that "The way in which he [Archer] has investigated political corruption in Sweden and Ghana is a model to other journalists who would like to pursue a career in investigative journalism? and "contributed to the resignation of a Swedish minister and the loss of influence of several Ghanaian politicians. Moreover, uncovering the deportation scandal led to a policy review in Sweden and helped to publicize other cases of illegal deportation? and ?had an international impact and raised public awareness about this specific problem in his country." By this remarkable feats, Archer confirms the Washington, D.C-based the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)?s Stephen Handelman, of Canada?s ?The Toronto Star,? opinion that despite ?the arrival of cable news and dot-com glitz, investigative reporting didn?t fade away? and that ?in fact, in some places [such as Archer?s Ghana] it?s healthier than ever ? even though you may not have heard of it.?

Esseku not attending the NPP national congress and not running for re-election as NPP chairman, largely as a result of the ramifications of his Kufuor Castle alleged kickbacks interview carried by The Enquirer, should tell Ghana?s investors and the international community that Ghana is increasingly taking corruption issues seriously, especially with journalists like Raymond Archer around, so they should come and invest in Ghana.



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