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Opinions of Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Columnist: Asare-Donkoh, Frankie

Rejoinder: The media is hypocritical; never helped Mahama fight galamsey

By: Dr Frankie Asare-Donkoh

I have nothing personal against Alhassan Suhuyini, MP for Tamale North. I don’t even think I’ve ever met him, because when he entered the media scene at Radio Gold, I had left the country, and hence had left the mainstream media.

I naturally applaud young men and women entering politics, and I remember commending President Atta Mills when he brought a number of young people into his government. Though many of such young ministers disappointed some of us with their arrogance and impunity, I’m still an ardent supporter of young people entering politics and offered leadership positions.

Despite my likeness of young people in politics, I have since after the 2016 elections been saddened by the acts of some of the young people who were elected into parliament, particularly, the Tamale North MP, Suhuyini. It appears to me that he has not realised the kind of position he holds. He also doesn’t seem to be somebody who wants to learn. So far, he has been in the news for various wrong reasons, including the recent baseless bribery allegation against the Chairman of the Appointments Committee of Parliament and the Minister of Energy, which impliedly also an accusation of Suhuyin’s own party leadership in parliament.

His recent reported statement accusing the media of hypocrisy and for deliberately sabotaging President Mahama’s government is very worrying. Let me say that this story in reference does not state where and when Suhuyini made the statement, hence its authenticity, to me, is in doubt because the story failed to satisfy two of the basic ingredients in every story – where and when.

I have waited for a reaction from Suhuyini, to say he had not made that statement but at the time of writing, no such denial has been made by him. My discussion of the content of the story is therefore based on the assumption that the story is true (it does not mean I doubt the source of the story – Ghanaweb, which has been one of my trusted sources for news about Ghana and elsewhere – except that in this story they failed in publishing a complete story).

Mr Suhuyini was with Radio Gold until he entered parliament on January 7, 2017. He was one of the most vocal NDC journalists. Radio Gold has been around for quite a long time and has in the past helped the NDC, and its governments prosecute their political and governance agendas. In addition to Radio Gold, there have been several newspapers set up by the NDC through its agents and also by some senior NDC members. If with all those media organisations the NDC set up, Suhuyini, who was one of the trusted NDC journalists would now turn to blame the media as hypocritical, is he therefore also blaming the NDC media?

Has Suhuyini also not been aware that the Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, and particularly Ghana Television (GTV) were more NDC media than national media? When GTV in 2008 gave a full live coverage to NDC’s last rally in Mantse Agbona in Accra, without doing the same for the NPP which also had its last rally on the same grounds, and also didn’t give the other political parties similar coverage, where was Suhuyini? Again, in 2012 GTV did exactly the same for NDC by giving their last rally in Accra a full live coverage, but never did the same for any of the other parties. Did Suhuyini see that the media supported NDC?

When the Daily Graphic put the stories on the NDC and NPP’s last rallies on December 4, 2016 on its front page of December 5, without any consideration of the other political parties, did Suhuyini see that as Graphic supporting the NDC or was that also a sabotage?

For the information of Suhuyini, my ‘Frankly Speaking’ column in the Daily Graphic was stopped by the Editor and his team because they felt my articles were not promoting the NDC and the government, even though there were a number of NDC propagandist columnists on the paper who continued to write all kinds of unsubstantiated and damning stories about the NPP and Nana Akufo Addo, Papa Kwesi Nduom and his PPP party, and other opposition parties and their leaders. The Editor of the Daily Graphic wrongly assumed that the paper was to promote the NDC and its agenda hence every writer should sing from the same hymn sheet he was singing from.

Suhuyini, as a journalist, should have known that in political communication, every political party devises a strategy to ‘manage’ the media to their advantage, hence I expected the NDC as a party in government to properly ‘manage’ the media in the way it wanted the them to assist it. It is therefore strange for somebody who was seen in NDC circles as among their leading journalists prosecuting its agenda to come out now to complain and blame the media for President Mahama and NDC’s failures. I’m sure it was for his being considered one of the NDC’s best journalists doing the party and government’s propaganda that President Mahama appointed him a member of the board of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority in 2013.

Suhuyini is reported to have said that there was the lack of support for the erstwhile administration on the part of the media on its fight against galamsey, adding that: “. . . during the previous administration, the media busied itself with petty issues and were more interested in hyping the flaws of the former President and his administration than contributing to the galamsey fight”.

He is also reported to have stated that “this behaviour was hypocritical” and “found it hard to belief that barely three months after the swearing in of President Akufo-Addo, the media seems to be active in mobilizing the citizens in the fight against this canker”. But what did Suhuyini do to promote the then President’s plan to fight galamsey?

During Mahama’s regime, many of us brought to his attention and that of his government the lack of direction in the government’s media and information management. The party and government relied on people who lacked experience in media and information management and placed them in positions which should have been occupied by experienced media practitioners. What was Suhuyini’s own impact on the NDC’s relationship with the media? And why didn’t he do well to make the NDC more popular in the media in order to help President fight galamsey? Such unnecessary accusations against the media by somebody whose only means of coming to the limelight was the media is very sickening.

Mr Suhuyini is trying to push himself on top of the NDC, an ambition I don’t find out of place anyway. However, he needs to learn by crawling, and learn to walk, before he can finally start running. As a young man, and also as a journalist (former or present), I thought he would taken some time to study at least the basics in politics and political communication, and also learn to research on issues before coming out with statements.

In recent times, most of his actions in and out of parliament have not put him in any good light. He’s been seen by many as very arrogant for even not acknowledging that in parliaments all around the world, seniority is always respected even though all members come into any single parliament at the same time. This is the reason why we have some MPs seated on the front rows while we have others as backbenchers. His actions and pronouncements have shown his lack of knowledge of politics, of parliament, and of political communication.

Hon. Alban Kingsford Sumani Bagbin, (NDC Nadoli-Kaleo) entered parliament in 1993, when he was a young man at 37 years, yet not many, if any, can speak ill about how he has comported himself since then, either in or outside parliament. There is also Haruna Iddrisu, another NDC MP (Tamale South) who entered parliament in 2004 at the age of 34 (thus he was and still a young man) has behaved himself so well to the extent that I’m sure some of his colleagues in the opposite bench in parliament would sometimes admire him even when he was criticising them. No wonder Harruna is the current Minority Leader. I could go on with the list, but if for nothing at all, can’t Suhuyini learn from these two MPs who also come from the north (where for me, most people are very humble) and change his abrasive posture.

Sitting on Radio Gold doing propaganda, and sometimes making wild allegations is completely different from being in parliament where by default you will add ‘honourable’ to your name. Suhuyini must therefore realise that such loose talks on radio cannot be brought to parliament or on public platforms as an MP. It’s time for him to learn and change his ways and utterances and show respect to his seniors in parliament, seniors in his NDC party, and to Ghanaians.