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Opinions of Thursday, 2 November 2006

Columnist: Atuahene, Kwame

Who Is Responsible For The Scuffle Of The Johns?

My Verdict

It has long been remarked by the old lady that, Ewhen two elephants scuffle the ground suffersE It is my considered view that, the saying is very typical of the state of Ghana particularly for the conduct of our senior Johns being at each other’s throat at the least or inconsequential provocation.

My heart bleeds as a patriot and a democrat when the two Johns engage in such unsolicited verbal skirmish to deal with each other. I marvel of what went that bad after the colorful hand over of power in January of 2001 and particularly in the events leading to that, during the transitional interactions. I have always maintained and will reiterate at this forum that, such conducts could be permitted in pre- 1992 Ghana but is highly inexcusable in a post- 1992 era.

The reason is simple. We have tried against the wishes of the pretenders to sustain this dispensation after various failed attempts in 1966, 1972 and 1981. It is thus not a mean achievement to have had four successful elections and changing leadership in that process. Ghana needs to remain focused on the problems of our time, the challenges of our youth and on chatting a clear vision to leap frog our socio-economic advancement.

The constant attacks and counter-attacks from our two Johns who are arguably our models for leadership is exceedingly distasteful and condemnable. A good number of the citizenry, the youth for that matter do not know about NKRUMAH or BUSIA. Today’s generation and the future know of these JOHNS, and I think the brand of leadership being sold to the unsuspecting generation for tomorrow is awful.

I have often quizzed myself of the likely reaction of the two Johns if they ever find themselves in an elevator say at the trust towers in Accra or at the World Trade Center in America.

What appears the reason for their confrontational postures is not wholly my beef but the conduct of the news couriers. I do not for a minute think that the Offinso and Ridge “boomsEare responsible for the current atmosphere, though they cannot be ignored. It is traceable in my view to the past and efforts must be made to address that.

It must be noted that in his early days as President- elect, Incumbent John remarked that so long as ex-John plays to the rule, there would be no reason to be at his heels. So has ex-John been reported to remark that if incumbent John should have any problem it perhaps would emanate from his team. Who then is blamable?

The incumbent John may not have done too well going public on what appears privileged or confidential information on the security of the state and intentions of the Ex-John. It is however unhealthy in my view the response from former John. It is in that light that I find the caution and response from the men in uniform as extremely admirable and in their own words; "The Ghana Armed Forces would like to appeal to the former President to stop drawing it into the political utterances that appears to be the order of the day anytime he has a bone to pick with the government.

"He should allow the military to do its work as enshrined in the constitution of our dear country just as it did for him in the past".

"Such statements coming from him as a former Commander-in-Chief tends to undermine the Command, discipline, esprit de corps, teamwork and professionalism of the Armed Forces, which do not augur well for peace and stability of the country."

In as much as the former President is entitled to his opinion, the Military High Command finds it unfortunate that as a former Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, such comments should be coming from him, since he is very familiar with the code of conduct of the military".

The media owe this nation a constitutional duty to inform and educate the populace and to considerably play a watchdog role on the ruler ship class, a responsible which has not in my view, been pleasingly exercised. The constitution guarantees the media such independence from other organs of state and in overwhelming fashion that forbids the questioning of the editorial content of media houses among others.

Many of us have however turned a blind eye on the provisions of article 164 either intentionally or ignorantly. This section craftily sets out the ground rules in the exercise of our duty and espouses in very clear and plain language that national security, public order among others should inform and guide our rights pronounced by same constitution.

The issue for meditation then is whether or not the continuous amplification of these outbursts from our two Johns by the Ghanaian media meets the public order and national security requirements? I arguably do not think so. Much as their right to free speech does not waive the media’s right to expression, I sincerely think that, such reportage can be excused and should as a matter of urgency be ignored if it is a potential for national disorder and pandemonium as was characteristic of statements from the two particularly calls from former John

His reported expectations of the Military High Commanders to question the policies of a Minister or government by extension for their privation to the military is to say the least stimulatory and objectionable.

An American Journalist, Ellen Goodman has long remarked that, “In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it rightE I think that the tension envisaged by Ellen Goodman appears to be eating up the Ghanaian society, principally for the young private media with clear traces of an adolescent. We might perhaps be engaged in battle to be tagged “always the first to tellE However, we should be cautious not to reckless in the process.

Many have always blamed the western media for putting the spotlight of the negatives of Africa and chastise them at the least opportunity but it is more of a worry when the local media have found no good enough reason to address issues of importance and development. BOOMS AND TRIVIALITIES have gotten the most out of our precious time and space.

My honest appeal to the fourth estate of the realm is that, Ghana is not an infallible State. Most conflict prone countries had mostly been safe and secured. We cannot take our relative freedom for granted. Societal and national ills should be exposed. Circumspection has always been the key. We should strive to IGNORE the extreme views and let the moderate views attract our airtime, space and attention. Listener ship, viewer ship and readership sells but the security of our state should always be first.

Long Live Ghana

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.