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Opinions of Saturday, 25 April 2020

Columnist: Michael A Horlorku, Contributor

The politics of lies, ignorance, misinformation and arrogance

Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister for Food and Agriculture Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister for Food and Agriculture

At Meet the Press Session today, JoyPrime News at 7pm (Thursday 23 April 2020), showed footage of the Hon Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, stating with unambiguous authority that food prices have come down despite Covid-19.

Not only did he state figures to back up his claim, he also stated that he has hundreds of people working for him nationally who feed him information regularly. Furthermore, the Hon Minister invited anyone to come forward with another contrasting evidence to his claims.

As journalistic due diligence would have it, the viewers of the news item did not have to wait long for confirmation of the Hon Minister's assertions. The reporters promptly showed some traders in the markets being interviewed on camera. The views of the market women were in sharp contrast with those of the Hon Minister.

What lessons have the audience and the nation learnt from this scenario?

1. We learn of a minister and a politician who is out of touch with the people he is meant to serve, the ministry he is meant to lead and civil servants or informants he is meant to rely on for viable information to aid his decision making and planning, both for the present and the future.

2. We learn of a minister who is reckless, lazy, careless to the extent of making any effort to gather, verify and validate information before making statements of national interest.

3. We learn of a politician who believes he can make any statements whether true or untrue with such authority and dare anyone to challenge his assertions. This is arrogance and misuse of authority.

4. We learn of a man with very little interest on such principles and values as integrity and credibility.

5. We also learn that this Hon Minister, in his self-conceited bubble, has forgotten that his statement of untruth has the potential to discredit the higher authority or authorities that appointed him to his position, i.e. the President.

What should we expect of the Hon Minister now that his assertions were promptly and successfully challenged and proven to be untrue?

1. Public apology for misleading information, knowingly or by error.

2. Private apology to his appointing authority or authorities which we may never be privy to.

3. Taking steps to hold his hundreds of informants to account, including cleaning up those on his payroll, at the taxpayer’s expense for their inefficiency and effectiveness.

4. Taking proper steps to ensure that his goal of keeping food prices down or lower than they used to be to become a reality, as per his own expectations.

Indeed, in some developed countries, as our Hon Minister must be well aware of, some ministers would do the honourable thing – resign from their position. Some might safely argue that Ghana is not a developed country, so expecting such a move from our Hon Minister is a step too far!