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kojo Yankah’s headache!

There is, by now, no doubt that Mr Kojo Yankah, President of the African University College of Communications (AUCC) and a former director of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), is suffering from a headache. In fact, the ex-editor of the country’s Daily Graphic could not have enacted anything to hide this man-made but terminal headache when he, at the grand dedication of the AUCC’s permanent city campus at Adabraka, named the Discovery House, expressed sentiments about falling standards in journalism as practiced in the country.

Paramount among these sentiments were the mushrooming of journalism training institutions across the country and the issue of political debates which are “so charged on our radio stations that you sometimes get the impression that we do not even appreciate our own collective achievements as a people”,

He also made genuine observations about the low quality of radio programming in the country due to the lack of trained journalists, a development which needs not to be overlooked, but exhausted towards reaching lasting antidotes.

In the first place, I write this article without any grudge to article 21 clause 1(a) of the 1992 constitution which grants “freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the press and other media”. I also do not harbor any opposition or contradiction to article 162 of the same constitution which guarantees, inter alia, freedom and independence of the media, regarded as the fourth estate of the realm.

Nonetheless the foregoing, I have, just as Kojo Yankah, very grave concerns to make in so far as the conduct of political debates and talk-shows, including newspaper reviews, on our radio stations are concerned. The cacophony and exchange of insults that have gradually become the trademarks by which such programs are identified leave much to be desired, and I am convinced it may assume unprecedented heights in the next few months to the December polls, if concrete measures are not mapped out National Media Commission and the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to regulate them.

Among the catalogue of decorum-defying conducts often put up these self-styled social commentators when the appear on air are the trade in insults, unnecessary interruptions of dissenting panelists, the utterly display of ignorance on topical issues, among many others, all of which emanate from their (commentators) dogmatic beliefs in their respective political party policies, arrogance and the unbridled reluctance to learn by failing to engage in research as a reliable tool to acquiring knowledge.

The most worrying angle to this development is that these social commentators often turn out to be professionally trained journalists and communications experts who know anything and everything about the profession, especially as regards to ethics, but deliberately let go off them.

It is therefore time for the GJA, NMC as well as owners and management of various frequency modulations (FMs) in the country to institute measures to regulate the conduct of political debates to render better meaning to our fledgling democracy which has, for the past years, been reduced and misinterpreted to the exchange of insults, regardless of the personalities and issues at stake.

I think by such measures, Kojo Yankah will be delivered of his menacing headache.

Again, it also remains an unfortunate spectacle to observe with disproof the unprecedented springing up of educational institutions, often housed in hired buildings, that profess to be journalism training schools, but which have not secured the accreditation of the National Accreditation Board (NAB) to operate. Consequently, such institutions are, by each year, churning out half-baked journalists, who, at the end of their course, are unable to practice journalism the professional way on the simple grounds of lacking basic knowledge on the rudiments of the profession.

As has been the requirement of the NAB for diploma programs to run on a period of two years training, such schools often take the delight in securing affiliations with mysterious institutions abroad that award diploma certificate after only six months or less.

As a phenomenon emanating from the foregoing has been the sordid development of what has now become known as solidarity fee, better known to journalists as ‘soli’. It is repugnant to observe reporters defy the ethics governing their profession to boisterously clamor for ‘soli’ which is not only humiliating to the profession and their consciences, but also despicable to watch flourish in the system without any authoritative rebuttal from the country’s media watchdog, the National Media Commission.

Other journalists also choose to scramble for food and drinks at events to the extent of stashing some (take away) for the kids at home. In face of these challenges confronting journalism in the country, let the GJA and NMC stand up and be counted.  But  in  mean time ,  kojo’s  headache  remains  untreated.

June 20, 2008 Posted by | Features | Leave a comment

The aftermath of the ‘Breaking News’

Breaking News!

 

What becomes your immediate response when TV3 suddenly truncates, without any prior notification, the rolling or telecasting of your favourite African movie that showcases the crème-de-la-crème of film stars on the continent, especially including the ever-hilarious comedian of all time, Agya Koo?

 

Your guess may be just as right as mine; disappointment and extreme ire amplified in those scornful facial and oral expressions of yours. “Mo koraa mo kyere moho dodo”, the typical Akan man from Kumasi will say. At this particular juncture, viewers forget about the unrivalled fact that TV3 is never synonymous with DSTV (Multichoice Africa) which is accessed strictly via subscription.

 

But to Adwoamanu, a very unpredictable character tagged by many, especially foes, as a political maverick (or better still gymnast or acrobat), the response was rather the opposite; an ignited curiosity to fish out the ‘news’ behind that conspicuous display of unprofessionalism which is a rare characteristic of the Kanda-based television powerhouse that pride itself as the “first in news, best in entertainment”.

 

Breaking News!, the TV screen shows for the second time, and (paraphrasingly) the silky-voiced, beautiful anchor appears to deliver the hot news (that probably can’t wait till the late news bulletin)

 

“The president, H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor, has just red-carded from his government Hon. Kwamena Bartels who, until this very minute, served in the capacity as the Minster of Police Affairs.

 

In addition, President Kufuor has recycled into the same government (which is only about six months from public scrutiny) Messrs Kwame Addo Kufuor and Papa Owusu Ankomah, both of whom abandoned the ship in pursuit of their individual presidential ambitions, only to concede defeat to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate of the NPP”.

 

“But this is no news at all, let alone befits the qualification as breaking news”, exclaims Adwoamanu, who had on several occasions prognosticated the development at hand. Her reasons are not far fetched.

 

In fact, the missing pellets of coke from the police custody and the haphazard manner in which policemen are handing over their AK47 ammunitions to warring factions to fuel the age-long Northern conflicts may even be enough to inform the president’s axe, despite the numerous allegations of corruption leveled against the big man and pursued with vigour by the local media, especially ‘The Enquirer’.

 

 Remember also the flamboyance, the extravagance, the pomp and pageantry, and overall the goodies that were reportedly alleged by the media to have characterized (or actually hallmarked) the daughter’s birthday celebration. In fact, these acts of omission and commission on the part of uncle Kwamena brought the image of the government, and that of the old man, into irreparable disrepute, raising a whole lot of questions centering on corruption in the government.

 

With such conducts, perceived corruption may eventually be taken as real corruption, if not properly handled by the party’s propaganda machinery, and may eventually affect the electoral fortunes of the great elephant party. Or could it be that Uncle kwamena was only working perfectly to put the policy of property-owning democracy into materialization? That is, leadership by example.

 

 But to ‘sub-professor’ Stephen Adei of GIMPA, there is nothing like perceived or real corruption, but corruption.  

 

And so (still paraphrasing) the anchor continues with her delivery, whether ‘breaking news’ or just ‘news’.

 

“The following people have been short listed by the President to receive highest awards in this year’s President’s State Awards. They are the Asantehene, Otumfuo Dr Osei Tutu Ababio II,………and Prof Evans John Atta Mills, the presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).”

 

Yes!, this the real ‘breaking news’ and not the previous items, says Adwoamanu, these gentlemen really deserve national awards.

 

 And just as the next morning dawned, the breaking news was no more news, because virtually all the newspapers, notably those set along political lines, had them front-paged, accompanied by all forms of expert exegesis, somehow superfluous. As for Uncle Kwamena’s own, it was no more newsworthy to be captured on the front pages because doom sayers had over-predicted its occurrence.

 

So for now, the multi-million question that started making the rounds was simple, only that it presented a subtle misconstruction of the primary objective underlying the institution of the President’s State Awards. This simple question has been; Does Prof Mills deserve to be recognized with a national award in an election year like this?

 

Undoubtedly, proponents of this particular question share a common denominator, just like Adwoamanu. They are mostly of the NPP blood. But Adwoamanu is quite different here, because of her entrenched abhorrence for the phrase ‘kokofu’ ballgame.

 

She argues to put the minds of her fellow party men and women at ease that, the decision to bestow a national award on Prof Mills never means an apparent endorsement of President Kufuor, but only a reflection of what democracy should be made to have.

 

But don’t stop reading yet as Adwoamanu pours out detailed arguments to buttress and further consolidate her standpoint in her editorial titled ‘Prof Mills deserves it!’. Check it out from nowhere than the same site – adwoamanu.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

June 13, 2008 Posted by | Features | Leave a comment

Prof Mills deserves it!

The development of every country is undoubtedly dependent on the output of her citizens. Ghana, having realized the foregoing, instituted the President’s State Awards, the primarily objective of which is to reward hard work and exemplarily leadership.

                                        

The beauty of such a national measure, if not safeguarded against the myopic sectional interest of certain citizens, promises to be muddied in the not-too-distant future, especially in the face of the country’s unrivalled credential as a success story of democracy on the restive continent of Africa.

 

About three weeks ago, the President, H.E. J.A Kufuor, in consultation with the Council of State, short listed certain hardworking compatriots to be honoured with awards for their meritorious services towards national development. Among the recipients of the president’s prerogative included the Asantehene, Otumfuo (Dr) Osei Tutu II, and Prof John Evans Atta Mills, the presidential candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

 

Like most of the nominated recipients for the awards, Prof Mills’ nomination could not have been informed by any other (unknown) reason than the conspicuous fact that he has selflessly dedicated his entire life to public service, having lectured at the Ghana Law School for 25 years and ultimately ascending to the number two highest position on the land, that is, as the country’s Vice President between 1996-2000.

 

In fact, his shortfalls as a human being made up of flesh and blood can also not be overlooked.

 

But it was not shortly after the Castle’s publicity machinery had announced the president’s nominees for this year’s award than this ignited opposition and harsh criticisms from within the top-notch circles of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) to Prof Mills’ nomination.

 

According to this anti-Mills school of thought, composed by the NPP triumvirate of Prof Michael Oquaye, the NPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Dome-Kwabeya, Hon P.C. Appiah-Ofori, the NPP MP for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, and John Boadu, the NPP National Youth Organiser, President Kufuor’s nomination of the learned law professor is synonymous to an endorsement of the NDC’s presidential bid, most especially when the country gears towards December 7.

 

Consequently, the aforementioned triumvirate are wishing and actually working towards the exclusion of Prof Mills’ name from the list of nominees for the year’s award, according to credible information available to us.

 

As much as we hold no grudge to any citizen’s legitimate right to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana, Adwoamanu wishes to put on record, and for the knowledge of Ghanaians, particularly political operatives, that the arguments advanced by the aforementioned triumvirate are shallow and superficial to deny the learned law Professor state award.

 

Contrary to the views of three ruling party members, the President’s decision does not in any way equal an endorsement of Prof Mills’ presidential candidature, but only a reflection of good leadership and fairness which should be a sine qua non of every democratic dispensation.

 

adwoamanu therefore states that the nomination of people for national awards and honours must never in anyway be dictated or influenced by any sectional considerations (known locally as ‘kokofu’ ballgame), but purely on merit!

 

It is time that fellow compatriots shelve their individual and parochial corporate/sectional interests to allow our common agenda as a country with a common destiny reign supreme.

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Editorial, Features | Leave a comment

After fiasco to manage water situation in Accra,

 

 A group academic work anchored

by James Harry Obeng

 

 

The age-long water shortages afflicting parts of Accra, the country’s capital, continue to take on worrying and somewhat dramatic twists amidst fruitless managerial efforts in search of a lasting antidote to the crisis.

 

As attempts by government and the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) in finding a solution to the situation grapple to chalk meaningful headway, information gathered from disparate crisis-afflicted zones in the capital paint gloomy pictures of looming disturbances and displacements interlaced with a managerial blame game initiated against government by Aqua Vitens Rand Company (AVRC), the privately-owned foreign consortium  entrusted to manage the situation.

 

At Dome-Kwabenya, about 45 minutes drive away from Accra, some residents are set to pour onto the streets in protest of what they described as “the insensitivity of government”, reports Esenam Akosua Dzansi.

 

Brian Asare, a resident, who made the disclosure in an interview with the reporter added that other residents, including himself, were planning to relocate from the suburb, all in an effort to escape the impact of the perennial water crises on them.

 

He said some residents have also resorted to the purchase and use of pressure pumps to force their pipes to flow of water, an unorthodox practice which Hon. Kofi Pepra , the assemblyman for the area, had worked for its stoppage, but to no avail.

 

These developments appear not to differ from the experiences recorded at other areas in the city, including Labone, Nungua, Achimota, Adenta, Santa Maria, Kotobabie and Ashaley-Botwe, where standpipes have turned white elephant and serving no useful purposes, according to reports by our reporters.

 

The grim reality of urban dwellers devastated by acute water shortages again remain the hardnosed plight of residents of Madina and Accra New Town, report James Harry Obeng and Lewis Numekevor, compelling residents to scavenge for water from wherever imaginable, regardless of its health implications.

 

A resident at Accra New Town  (name withheld) disclosed that “chop bar” operators in the area were sourcing water from “unhygienic places” to ran their businesses, a situation which was later corroborated by Madam Esi, a chop bar operator, who said “business must go on, water or no water”

 

A report by WaterAid, a non-governmental organization, indicate the volume of water supply in most part of the world, including Ghana, have seen a downward trend. Government figures made available to our reporter, Raquell Crawford-Mills and Vanessa Affolaby, say about 50 percent of the daily water production of the GWCL —120 million gallons — are lost through “leaks, illegal connections and unpaid bills”, adding that about 30 percent do not get to its destination due to burst pipes along ways.

 

According to Mr. Emmanuel Nkrumah, the director of Urban Water Supply Project of the GWCL, an international tender will be launched in June to find a private partner for the GWCL, fuelling suspicions about the inefficiency of the Aqua Vitens Rand Company.

 

Additionally, government sources have given hints about a move to sign a deal with a new company early next year immediately the December elections are done away with.

 

But when contacted over the foregoing and the overall management of water in the country, the spokesperson for AVRC, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, said it was outside the mandate of AVRC to ensure that water  got to individual households.

 

Our mandate is to focus on the technical, financial and human managerial objectives of the situation”, he said, adding that although complaints from the public have upped tremendously, increasing the capacity and coverage of water supply remained a responsibility of government, reports Gifty A.Bamfo.

 

Of these unfolding development characterizing the managerial front, pundits believe a termination of the contract of AVRC appears imminent in the not-too-distant future, especially following persistent calls by parliament, especially from the minority bench, on government to abrogate the contract.

 

Analysts also believe the blame game ignited against government by the AVRC makes a farce out of the country’s enviable feat as the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) ahead of the scheduled 2015.

 

Goal seven of the MDG which is premised on ensuring environmental sustainability aims, among other objectives, to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, and also to integrate  principles of sustainable development into national policies and programs to reverse the loss of environmental resources.

 

With the current managerial crisis coupled with the ever-increasing population of Accra, averting the crisis of water shortages may yield minimal results but practicable steps could be taken to mitigate their impact on the citizenry.

 

First, there is the need for the GWCL and government to build a stronger  and effective culture of maintenance to save the about 30 percent of water lost through pipe leakages.

 

Besides, metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies should, without fear, favor and discrimination, enforce bye-laws regarding flouting regulations on accessing water, especially illegal connections and of unpaid bills, and apply the necessary sanctions on culprits.

 

Government should also, aside been proactive towards the situation, marshal stronger measures to review, as well as evaluate, the performance of the AVRC to inform its decision-making process towards finding a solution to the water crisis.

 

 

June 5, 2008 Posted by | News | 1 Comment