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Opinions of Thursday, 26 August 2010

Columnist: Kofi, Nana

The Media – Ghana needs you, Africa needs you (part 1)

I had started writing this article with the heading “Our Media Professionals have failed us” long before the diligence of our radio and print media forced the withdrawal of the STX document from parliament, hence the new title. Parliament still went ahead to approve the controversial STX deal, with ALL NDC members voting for it. Out of the more than 116 “independent” minds, there wasn’t one NDC member that saw the myriad of flaws raised by other Ghanaians.

I have always believed that the goal of every professional is to use HIS/HER TRADE to EFFECT POSITIVE CHANGE/CONTRIBUTION FOR HIS/HER EMPLOYER, CLIENTS OR COMMUNITY/COUNTRY. A good teacher will diagnose a particular subject deficiency of a student, and then assiduously work with him/her to remedy it. So does a doctor stick with his/her patients; examining, testing, changing prescriptions, counseling, etc till the patient is well. All professions are similarly “Positive Change Goal” orientated.

I buy and read three different “News papers” everyday; tune my car radio from one station to another all day, click the TV remote button from station to station. This is what I get:

The newspapers mainly (a) report on official events, (b) publish a PR write-up by a foreign (usually a mining) company, or (c) reprint from the newswires. Recently some Dailies are publishing citizens’ feature articles, and drawing attention to our social-economic problems - good.

The radio stations give me (a) endless sermons, (b) endless chatter of NDC/NPP Good/Bad Actions/Inactions (c) endless gospel (Ghana-made) music. (d) advertisements of (herbal) drugs that are falsely claimed to cure every known affliction. Central Region is the worst.

The TV stations give me (a) endless sermons, (b) endless gospel (Ghana-made) music, and (c) a Pilipino sitcom.

Do you journalists, radio moderators/commentators and TV producers actually believe that at the end of the day you have EFFECTED ANY POSITIVE CHANGES IN THE LIVES OF THE AVERAGE GHANAIAN?

In many established democracies, the media’s (print, radio and TV) role as the 4th arm of a government, is to EFFECT CHANGES through research, investigation, information and education. They will STAY on a particular sour subject to its conclusion, or until the desired outcome is accomplished. The public is not left hanging.

Many of Ghana’s (Africa’s) problems are all known to you the media professionals. They can be traced to our poverty in the midst of plenty due to the mismanagement of our bountiful resources. I have heard Kwesi Pratt shout loudly and clearly on one station about the strangulating hold the World Bank and IMF have on our body politic, policies and our socio economic development. Similarly I have heard Kofi Wayo yell on top of his voice on another station about the “official” thievery of our natural resources by the foreign mining companies. Yet you the media have played deaf and dumb to these revelations or allegations, instead of latching onto them, to research the facts, inform, educate the public, and harass the so called “officials” to change the status quo. More than a cursory news clip is needed to bring about these changes.

Heaven knows we have many problems that desperately need the media’s professional diligence to cause changes. Some of these will be highlighted in subsequent postings.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL Every account of a defilement includes the statement “ He warned me not to tell anybody, else….” Similarly countless criminal and other unsavory acts by individuals, corporations or governments are shrouded in secrecy. When Newmont builds a $10,000 6-room school block, they want the whole world to know. But they want their haul of $120,000,000 from the same impoverished community kept secret. WHY? Under the blanket of secrecy Ghana and most of Africa is being enslaved by foreign interest aided by our own officials. That is why the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BILL is so crucial. This bill has been languishing in parliament year after year, while ALL our local and international agreements continue to be shrouded in secrecy and to our disadvantage. We need you the media to challenge the president and members of parliament as individuals with names and their positions on this bill. Harass them with the benefits to the ordinary Ghanaian until the bill is passed.

The give-away of our Natural Resources under the guise of “Foreign Investment”. Until JJ Rawlings, any foreign participation in our mining industry had been limited to no more than 33% (in line with our traditional 3-parts distribution – 1/3 for the land owner, 1/3 for the farmer, and 1/3 for the harvester/seller). The State Mining Corporation was created to harvest our natural resources for the benefit of the local communities, and the nation as a whole. Tarkwa, Prestea, Obuasi, Akwatia, etc. used to boast of the highest living conditions/standards in the nation; not now. Questions to ask and discuss: (a) With ALL the extraction work done by GHANAIANS, why are our mineral resources controlled by foreign companies? (b) What real and unique investments do foreign companies bring that cannot be matched by local investors?, (c) Why are we demonizing and killing our small scale miners so as to please the foreign companies? (d) Can’t the government with local banks resource and train our small scale miners to supplant these greedy foreign companies? After all the galamsayers provide more jobs, and proportionally more local and national revenues than these greedy foreign companies. After all NEWMONT and ANGLO-GOLD are doing the same open pit mining as the galamsays. (e) Ask the people in the gold mining areas (Obuasi, Tarkwa, Prestea, Nsuta, Ahafo) if their living standards have improved since the influx of foreign companies. (f) Why would the British crown honor a Ghanaian living and working in Ghana for a joint British-Ghanaian gold mining company? (g) Why and who released the forest reserve to Newmont? (h) Name government officials who are charged with ensuring mining companies’ environmental and socio-economic sensitivity to local people in particular, and the nation at large, and whether they are doing their jobs. (i) Why do our chiefs, District, Local and National governments accept “GIFTS” of less than $10,000 6-room/seats school block or kvip from mining companies (amid all the media hoopla and fanfare), instead of the millions of dollars legitimately owed them? (j) Why does our media, especially the print, appear to be the Public Relations organ of these mining companies? (k) Who is the Ghana Chamber of Mines working for, the foreign mining companies or the Ghanaian public?


The following links lead to publications of the World Bank and IMF selling off their 300 billion dollars of gold. i. 403-tons-of-gold/


Our radio and print media should investigate, research, educate, and discuss openly with the public:

? The sources of the World Bank’s gold (Mostly from Africa, by aiding foreign mining companies to plunder our gold) ? Why the World Bank only loans to foreign mining companies, and not to indigenes ? Why, after plundering our gold, and selling it off to raise loan capital, does the IMF LOAN us the same money with ridiculous strings attached, and with the connivance of our Un-named Govt. officials? ? What are the terms of these loans? They must be made public.

The above are only but a few topics for public discussion as to why we are so blessed with riches, and yet so poor, and how to remedy the situation.

? Preference of “Foreign-------“ over our own – The STX thievery Our governments, starting with JJ Rawlings, have abandoned Kwame Nkrumah’s vision of “we Africans can manage our own affairs”, and swallowed hook and sinker the dictates of the IMF to our detriment. Who in his right mind will trust his/her whole well being to ANY outsider, Black or White? Unfortunately our so-called elites always fall for the “white is better” syndrome and accept the most idiotic conditions in “agreement”. Nkrumah set up PWD, followed by AESC, Plant Pool, etc. by successive governments so that indigenous talents and expertise could be used, and heavy equipment would be shared to minimize capital outlay. Major civil and architectural projects were designed and built by these entities. Today, if a Chinese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, American or British, etc. is NOT standing at a project site, be it a kvip, office building, or a mere football park, the project does not start, EVEN THOUGH 99.9% OF THE WORKERS ARE GHANAIANS!! Almost all police districts boast of shells of multi-floor 2 or 3 bedroom flats waiting for completion. Instead of completing these units as well as those left by the last administration, Our works and housing minister would rather concoct and saddle us with a $10 billion yoke for the benefit of the Koreans and a few select Ghanaians.

Some of the Questions to ask are: o Why is a foreign loan, usually with one-sided conditions, always needed for our development projects? According to the UN, expatriate Ghanaians remit at least $4.0 billion annually. Can’t our government finance gurus with their PhD’s be creative enough to harness this resource for our development? Or is it because kickbacks and bribes might be difficult to come by. o The right questions are being asked by the media and the public. What is needed is constant vigilance for truthful answers with domestic alternatives till this whole thievery scheme dies away. We need you the media to revisit the many questions about the STX project raised in radio discussions, the dailies, and on ghanaweb; educate us with answers from parliament, or the architects of the agreement.

It is only when you the media, the 4th arm of our government, live up to your professional goals (to effect positive changes) that Ghana and Africa can contain the greed, corruption and ineptitude that keep us still poor. Otherwise we will become slaves to the foreigners on our own soil.

Nana Kofi