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Opinions of Thursday, 8 October 2009

Columnist: Akyena, Brantuo Benjamin

Re: Spio-Garbrah: Pissin' in & meaning well

ATO KWAMENA DADZIE OF JOY 99.7 FM ‘CUT TO SIZE’

Ato Kwamena Dadzie(a Journalist with Joy99.7FM, a private radio station in Accra), when you spew out so much insult, write independent of the facts and make a mockery of important national debate, it becomes an undignified job for one to spend quality time and efforts mopping the mess you have created. It is even worse when you arrogantly refuse to repent, despite being rebuked of your transgressions. Perhaps it is either a case of ‘old habits dying hard’ or a case of one refusing to ‘understand you when his /her pay depends on not understanding you’.

However, the need for this response is predicated on the wisdom that ‘evil triumphs when good people refuse to act’. The task of exorcising the many, who get misinformed after they have read or listened to you on Joy FM, is as critical as the task of the Ghana Media Commission ensuring that Journalist do not throw the ethics of their profession to ‘the dogs’.

On the debate of ‘pissing in and pissing out’, I will not attempt to flog a dead horse. I stand by the arguments I advanced when I wrote on the subject as of 24th September 2009. Read it on www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/artikel.php?ID=169275. However, your recent contribution on the debate captioned Spio-Garbrah: Pissin' in & meaning well, cannot pass uncommented. A remark or two on your attitude towards matters of national importance and correction of some erroneous impressions in your article may suffice.

1. When you write, can you not make sense without insulting anybody? Whilst it is within your purview to exercise your inalienable right to free speech and expression, it is condemnable that you do so with utter disregard for the rights of others to respect and dignity. As they say courtesy, cost nothing. Your reference to Ghanaians as idiots, and those espousing dissenting views to yours as sycophants, is as foul as a slander.

Again, your description of the cabinet of Ghana as a nursery, made up of Ministers with airheads, who are completely incompetent and inexperienced, is as shameful as sin. It is a denigration of the good judgement of the president and a fat insult on the people of Ghana, whose mandate the president and his lieutenants exercise. You do not obviously respect the president and his officers, else how could you have described all their efforts as playing ‘chaskele’ (a kind of village game). The saying is true that speaking without thinking is like shooting without aiming.

If a Journalist working with a Diploma Certificate cannot be describe as having an airhead, by what stretch of imagination can we classify astute lawyers and professionals like Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance, Mrs Zita Okaikwei, Minister of Information, Lt Gen.Rtd. J.H Smith Minister of Defence, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, etc as nonentities? You do not become great by destroying great men. Learn from the saying that, the greatest fault is the fault of finding faults.

May I add my voice to the many who have already admonished you to sanitise your speeches of insults? Your excuse that Paul Victor Ansah, a suppose mentor, in his lifetime use to insult more than you are doing, is as malicious as Satan is. A lame excuse to infest our children (Including yours) with this contagious canker, which kids are thought as part of good grooming to eschew, as it is alien to our culture as Ghanaians. I am most alarmed because you use Joy FM as the platform to perpetuate this mischief. Remember this that which is evil is soon learnt. The influence of Joy on every Ghanaian, least of all our children, cannot be over emphasised.

Joy Fm headline news of Friday, 2nd October 2009 on why Judges use intemperate language in their ruling could not have come at an opportune time. I only hope that Joy FM can expand the scope of the question to include why Journalist do worse?

The admonishing of the Chief Justice is too useful to be limited to graduating lawyers of the 2009 academic year. Some Journalist at Joy can learn from it. After all, are we not supposed to start preaching the gospel from Jerusalem before going to Judea? She writes. Some ‘believe that a refined manner, the use of decorous and temperate language is a mark of weakness whereas arrogance, aggressiveness, and other forms of obnoxious behaviour including scurrilous attacks’, is a sign of strength. That clearly is a fallacy’. May I also add that soft words they say breaks no bone and manners makes a man.

2. Correct me if I am wrong, I get the impression that when you write, your interest is not to add to the quality of the debate but ride on the popularity of the issue at stake to draw attention to yourself. This you do by always arguing for the negative and most ridiculous side of the debate. Your posture in this debate illustrates this point but not so much as your views on Kwame Nkrumah. I thought that the swift condemnation from both friends and critics of Osagyefo was enough to put you on your toes. But, a careful analyses of a couple more of your articles pointed to the fact that you deliberately write to achieve precisely that- a situation where everybody focus attention on you. What a wired way to be fulfilled?

3. It is touching your eulogies about Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah. You ‘love his intellect’. You are ‘in love with the way he speaks,’ and ‘what he says’...in fact you will have married him ‘if he were a woman’ and that you ‘took the decision to go to the School of Journalism after reading his profile in the Daily Graphic some 10years ago’(that makes about 5 people who influenced you to become a journalist). Yes least I forget, you also ‘rooted for him in the race for NDC presidential slot but he lost against the man who is now president’.

I am scandalised about your open admission that you campaigned for Dr Ekow Spio Garbrah ‘in the race for the NDC presidential slot. But he lost to the man who is now the President’. Again, did you also say on the eve of the Chereponi bye-elections, during the Newspaper review on Joy, that you will be happy if the NPP candidate wins the elections? Well too bad, he lost.

Are you a Journalist, or a Politician? Are you not sure that as a senior staff of Joy FM, openly admitting your political biases on air is undermining listener confidence in a radio station, which is supposed to be neutral? Do you not think you are giving reason for people to speculate and wonder how many more of the staffs at the station are political agents or which of the programmes hosted at the station stinks’ of championing NDC or NPP political interest? The continual hoisting of your political colours, as a five star general unapologetically advertises his various ranks on his shoulders, is as careless as the wind, a possible private benefit notwithstanding.

4. Again, can the many articles you have written against the president and the NDC since January 7, 2009 be a case of sour grapes as you have not recovered from the fact that your icon –Spio is not in the presidential seat?

5. Are you not by this admissions of campaigning for Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah and your over ten years of affiliation with the rival of the president, validating my claims that all the many attacks against the ministers of state and their work is merely a form of power struggle in the NDC with external collaborators like yourself playing a key role?

In my last article, I wrote inter alia. ‘The dirty and naked struggle for power within the NDC has been packaged and branded under all forms of guises that appears as if it were an issue of national concern. However, Ghanaians must not buy a pig in a poke’. I further added. ‘Rather than inefficiencies and incompetence, Zita like many other ‘later days saints’ of the NDC, currently in positions of influence, are victims of a targeted hate campaigned. The aim is to prove at all cost how wrong the president has been from the very on set, to have preferred newcomers in the NDC, to so-called ‘party loyalist’. Hence, your constant attacks on the president must be noted for what it is.

6. It is heart warming that you find in Dr Garbrah a role model (though I wonder how many young men can say the same of you), who has influenced you into earning a living from Journalism. But, do you not think that it is intrusive when you want to force such an admiration on everybody, including the president? Spio-Garbrah may have a contagious appeal, which might have infested many people, including me, but the president has proven to be immune to it.

7. What makes you think that it will be impossible to select less than 50 functional cabinet ministers from a Ghanaian population of 22 million once Dr Garbrah is not included in the list? Are you saying that once NDC is in government Spio must definitely be a cabinet minister? Will all the problem in Ghana be solve once he is in government? Is that why he solved all our problems during the Rawlings era when he was a cabinet minister for 8years in this country? Why do you tickle yourself and laugh? Many find fault without an end, and yet do nothing at all to mend it. Talk is indeed cheap.

Additionally, he was a member of the transitional team that oversaw the transfer of power to President Mills- in fact he headed the largest sector, Social Sector Sub-Committee. Did that prevent the transitional team from spending GH¢361,924.41, which included the cost of tea? I think that sincerely Dr Ekow Spio Garbrah has achieved a lot for himself but that acumen is not unique to him. People like Dr. Kwabena Duffuor, Minister of Finance, Mrs Zita Okaikwei, Minister of Information, Lt Gen.Rtd. J.H Smith Minister of Defence, Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister of Food and Agriculture, Stephen Kwao Amoanor, Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Mr. Alexander Asuom Ahinsa, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, Cletus Avoka, Minister of Interior, Joseph Yela Kyere, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, etc who are in the government, are shining examples of achievers and we mock ourselves when we try desperately to pull them down. Of course, it is easier to pull down than to build.

8. Again, in modern governance tall profile is not so much important as the ability for one to be compatible with and share in the corporate vision of the executive president, who is ultimately responsible for the mandate his subordinates exercise on his behalf. Yes, Spio may be the best but he must be compatible with the rest of the team players.

The fact that Dr Garbrah thinks the ministers of state are porous and the efforts of the government will ultimately not deliver a better Ghana, is hint enough that he does not believe in the good judgement of the president. Hence, should he be in government will he implement the decisions of the president, which he does not believe in, or he will subvert the powers of the president by implementing his own decisions? A word to the wise is enough.

9. I think that Hilary Clinton disagreeing with Barrack Obama on the subject of his policy is not the same as allegations that Dr Spio-Garbrah wished death for president Mills prior to the NDC presidential race. If those statements were indeed made, then I will even wonder how Hon. Garbrah can have the best of hearts and commitment to contribute to development since the statements suggest that indeed there exist deep-seated enmity between the two.

Actions of the president so far, however prove that he harbours no vengeful attitude towards Hon. Spio. He appointed Spio-Garbrah to head the largest sub-committee during the transitional team- Social Sector sub-Committee. Additionally, Spio is only one of many NDC functionaries who are not in government and the president is yet to do his first ministerial reshuffle. The government has done less than a year of a mandate, which is four years. Why the haste? As they say, good things come to those who wait.

The fact that the NDC have this calibre of serving ministers and there is evidence to suggest that there are many more outside the government, who can also do well, demonstrates that allegations that the NDC lack men is not credible. As they say, a team is as good as its bench.

People however can question the moral authority of Spio to force the president to give him an appointment after his allege attacks on him. Hence, Ato Ahwoi’s query ‘why are you dying to be in the government of a sick man? (Mr Ahwoi-a Ghanaian- has a right to his opinions, he is neither the president nor one of his spokes persons).

10. Your comment that Zita will be serving cold beer had the NDC not come to power is most regrettable. There is nothing wrong for one to own a restaurant, if that is what you must do to achieve your goals. The saying is true that small beginnings make great endings. She is now a lawyer and a Minister of State. I think that you do not always need a chain of certificates be able to perform. The fact that you work in Joy fm proves this point. I also think that you did not start life from where you are now. It is hypocritical that you find it fit to forget your own past (which am not ready to discuss here) and laugh at others.

If you are a politician, serve a public notice to that effect so that you can be treated as political opponent or an ally. Sitting in Joy studios and pretending to be practising journalism yet doing politics is as cunning as a fox.

AKYENA BRANTUO BENJAMIN FORMER PRESIDENT-COMMONWEALTH HALL, UNIVERSITY OF GHANA, LEGON DIRECTOR-THE NEXT GENERATION YOUTH LEAGUE (NGYL) INTERNATIONAL CELL-+233244825187 E-MAIL benakyena@yahoo.com