You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 09 02Article 466838

Opinions of Friday, 2 September 2016

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Rev Professor Martey and the bigger story

By George Sydney Abugri

The outgoing president of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Rev Professor Emmanuel Martey is making front page howlers all over again. Is the Rev Professor Martey a pro-NPP political vigilante and activist or a clergyman working full time for Jesus, with a few occasional moments to spare for political commentary and criticism?

Maybe he is both, but senior NDC activist Koku Anyidoho has vowed that in the wake of the most recent episode in Professor Martey’s recurring run-ins with the Mahama administration, the man will be treated by the NDC as “a propagandist” which of course, is reasonably close to activist and vigilante.

The outgoing moderator claimed at a press conference this week, that an unnamed political party offered him a bribe of $100,000, a V8 and a Trasacco Valley mansion, to stop criticising the political administration. Some people have called for his arrest for aiding and abetting bribery and corruption.

In a bizarre twist to the tale, a former communication aide of his church, has alleged that Martey did indeed receive in his {former aide’s} presence, a bribe from a political party, but not the party being insinuated by Rev Martey!

The last time round, Rev Martey raised the hackles everywhere and got NDC activusts hopping mad with his declaration that “I could have fixed the nation’s energy crisis within three months if I were president.”

On that occasion, another clergyman, the Rev Dr Adjei Mensah, General Overseer of High Praise, said Ghanaians have seen moderators of the Presbyterian Church in Ghana come and go, and that none of them “ever behaved like that.” Rev. Adjei said while past moderators of the church spoke constructively on national issues, Rev Martey was given to “one- sided” discourses and was “always attacking the present government.”

Dr Mensah said on radio that Professor Martey never delivered a message at any forum without attacking the government. He said the man’s conduct did not paint a positive image of Christians and Christian clergy. He suggested that before attempting to solve the power crisis in three months, the moderator could consider first fixing the terribly dilapidated Presbyterian Primary school at Labone in a week.

Rev Mensah observed that Prof Martey is always as mum as a clam when it comes to controversies involving the country’s biggest opposition party, the New Patriotic Party, but jumps at the slightest opportunity to berate the current political administration and the president.

It is alright for a man of God to hold political leaders to account for their actions and inactions in running a nation. As a matter of fact, a modern day prophet who fails to speak up for the people in situations of bad governance or misrule has no business going by the name.

On the other hand, trust even the village idiot to be able to smell from a thousand kilometres away, a closet politician waging propaganda from the pulpit.

An NDC pressure group issued a statement after that incident, in which it said anyone who listened to a recording of the speech in which Professor Martey made his claim, got the impression that the man was calculatedly belittling and deriding the president.

Broadcaster and entertainment media icon KSM suggested that making the Rev Martey Minister of Energy should put him in an ideal position to end the crisis. He asked President Mahama to call the moderator’s bluff by giving him the job!

People who regularly eat of the unwholesome bowl of illicitly appropriated public money budgeted for the achievement of political gaols are reported to include, government officials, political appointees, MPS, contractors, journalists, musicians and other so-called entertainment media celebrities. Now the clergy has come up for scrutiny!

It is however the allegations of the corruption of the media by successive governments that is a source of unease because of their role as watch dogs of public accountability: Today, the ruling government assures us that its predecessors had kept a list of collaborators in the media on an illegal payroll to conceal the truth about its actions and inactions, while working mainly through media-facilitated propaganda to entrench itself in power.

A new government comes along and the old government now in opposition, which had itself been accused of paying bribes to a select group of powerful journalists, now, turns the guns of accusation on the new government and says the new government is paying hefty bribes to journalists.

Rawlings went up to Ouagadougou the other time to address a meeting of the International Catholic Union of the Press. He gave the journalists a short lecture on the sacredness of journalism as a guard dog of Truth and how corruption among journalists in turn corrupts the truth.

Then Rawlings pulled a fat cat out of nowhere: In his own country Ghana he told them, a corrupt administration had paid an unnamed journalist a regular stipend of US$ 10,000 to defend the administration’s misdeeds.

One view was that Rawlings was as he is accustomed to do, making undomesticated allegations he could not substantiate. A converse one was that having been head of state for two decades, the man had access to classified information and must have known what he is talking about.

Some sources have revealed that the National Security establishment during its headship by former security Chief Francis Poku, kept some unnamed journalists on a monthly take!

When the late Professor JEA Mills took office as president, allegations were let fly to the effect that revenues from a petroleum tax imposed on Ghanaians had been used to pay bribes to journalists through the Ministry of Information during the Kufuor administration.

The allegations of corruption in the media or rather of government corruption of sections of the media have refused to go away in spite of the lack of concrete evidence. A very highly placed individual, did remark to me a few years ago, that “some of your colleagues are making good money.” I doubt if he was referring to journalists’ wages.

President Mahama’s administration has not been spared the accusations. Not long ago his Chief of Staff Julius Debrah, was accused of inviting journalists to Flagstaff House for an informal forum of sorts, where he allegedly distributed fat envelops with indeterminate contents to the journalists.

What about the opposition parties? Do they pay bribes to journalists to wreak havoc on the integrity and voter-appeal of incumbent governments in a bid to take over political power? Contrary to the popular saying, your guess may not be as good as mine.