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Opinions of Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Columnist: Abdallah, Tijani Kassim

Politics: A Contest Of Ideas Not Insults

As a country that came from colonization, many thought that our politics would be civil and responsible than before, as our democracy keeps growing from strength to strength, but that is not the case. Rather, current events are bringing back memories of the dark days in our political history.

As a former Student leader and someone who sits on the fence with basic understanding of conceptual politics,’ I have always held the belief that politics is and should be a competition of ideas and never of insults as has been the case in the last few months, sadly so.

The academic discipline that describes how power is exercised, through the administration of public power, to manage citizens affairs may perhaps be termed politics.

The recent development in within the political atmosphere in relation to the politics of insult is in bad taste and I do not want to recount it, we need to be ashamed of ourselves. Am very much worried about this phenomenon and I know every well meaning Ghanaian would also be concerned about this sad state of affairs.

I was left embarrassed when my twelve year old kid brother walked up to me and inquired why so much insult was been spewed on the radio. Admittedly, the media I dare say is indispensable, but would be guilty of irresponsibility if anything is allowed to go on air. The media should be seen as a powerful tool for education and as such must not be used for malice.

As a celebrated country and one regarded as 'the pride of African democracy,' our politics should be issue centered rather than one of character and reputation assassination. However, it is very inappropriate to destroy a person’s hard earned reputation for money or parochial ends and the earlier media people get that the better.

In our daily lives, we are faced with myriad of challenges, lack of good drinking water in our taps, hawkers on our street, inflation, reduction in the size of kenkey, poor services in our hospitals, lack of quality education in our schools which makes the people functionally illiterate and so on, all of these don't seem to matter anymore.

Yet we digress from all these sensitive issues and we talk about how short or tall a presidential candidate is, how handsome or ugly another is, how sick or mad, “ntafoo koa”, “wonai echi a apai pai”., “kooko-ase kurasene”,All die be die, etc.

From where I sit, I think enough is enough; the sooner we nib this canker in the bud, the better. We must wake up from our slumber and extricate ourselves from a journey that clearly is leading us down a blind alley.

I hold a firm opinion that, the best way to kill a tree is not to cut it branches but to dig out it roots. From my diagnosis, the root of this problem has to do with unethical journalism and abuse of the journalist's discretion. As the Prophet Mohammed ?Peace Be Upon Him? wisely pointed out “*Speak good (well) or be Silent*” clearly, this is means that if you have nothing meaningful to say, the best you could do is to humbly keep quiet.

I recommend to the media editors to look for those mature people in our society who are a source of inspiration to the youth, who set an exemplary good life for others to emulate, those who make sense in their discussions rather than noise.

What can we do about this cancer that is impeding the growth of our democracy? * * *THE MEDIA*

First, there must be laws and regulations that will empower the National Media Commission (NMC) so that it can enforce professionalism in their modus operandus.

Second, the media profession must have ethical values far from political ideologies and organizations. We must end the practice of corrupting the press for partisan purposes.

Third, media practitioners should exercise their freedom of expression through a high sense of responsibilities.

Fourth, media practitioners require a lot of investment both in human resource and in technology to be able to offer an excellent professionalism and reduce temptation from selfish politicians.

Fifth, the media should censor putting reckless or “loose talks” on air. Again, the practitioners have to pluck up courage and dissuade foul mouth politicians who for some reasons best known to them spew insults on our air waves instead of substantive issues.

As we approach the 2012 general elections, I urge all and sundry to be circumspect and discerning; to eschew gullibility and articulate views that would not bring about apocalyptic consequences. Bearing in mind that, the purpose of an election is to determine the will of the voters.

Consistent with these provisions, someday we shall move forward without doubt. * * *Author: Tijani Kassim Abdallah/*