Firstly, I want to take this opportunity to apologise for my two weeks hiatus from blogging. I had to take time off to study for my exams but I’m done now. A lot has transpired during the past two weeks which I will be updating you on as time goes on.
The handing over ceremony of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) chapter of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and end of semester seminar took place on Thursday 5th May 2016 on the premises of GIJ. The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) is the umbrella organization representing Ghanaian Journalists. It is registered as a professional association and listed as one of several bodies on the board of the National Media Commission.
The Seminar was based on the theme “Ensuring peaceful election; the role of student journalists” The guest speaker for the occasion was Abdul Hayi Moomen, a presenter at Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC).
He spoke about a lot of issues which I’d be highlighting on. Mr. Moomen sourced some of his experiences as a journalist to speak to the topic for the occasion. He began his talk by speaking about how politics has divided us as a nation. He began with an experience he encountered in July 2012 when he was travelling from Wa to Accra. When he got to Bole, the hometown of President John Dramani Mahama who was then the Vice President, he came across a structure that was supposedly a school but didn’t look like one to him. He saw a group of children in clothes that looked like school uniforms but were not actually school uniforms. The scene struck his curiosity and he decided to go in and find out whether the structure was really a school.
He met the headmaster who confirmed to him that, indeed it was a school, which comprised three classes. Upon investigation, Moomen also discovered that the headmaster duplicated as a teacher. He went further to find out from the director of education at Bole whether he was aware of the existence of such a school. The director confirmed his awareness of the school, after which Moomen wrote a report on his findings. When the story was broadcasted, he was unfairly chastised and criticised for trying to run down the sitting government. People went to the extent of tagging him as a member of the opposition opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
He made reference to another instance where a journalist ran a story on a school in the Upper West region which did not have desks and hence students had to lie on the floor to learn on. That was the same day the president delivered his state of the nation address. Instead of looking at the issue at hand, the journalist was maligned as someone who was against the president.
Mr. Moomen further talked about how leading members of a particular political party rained insults on him and accused him of taking bribes after hosting Mr. Paul Afoko, the embattled former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party on his program.
These interesting revelations by Mr. Abdul Moomen made me reconsider my preparation for the journalism profession. I then asked myself, “What has brought us to this stage where we judge issues from a political perspective and not based on the facts of the issues at hand?” Unfortunately, the tendency to politicise issues is not only limited to the field of journalism but has pervaded every sphere of our national discourse. This has negatively affected us as a nation and is one of the traits that are hindrances to our national development. We live in a country where if you don’t belong to a particular political party, and you raise an issue which does not favour that particular political party but is in the interest of the nation, you are seen as an enemy.
I remember vividly the Vice Presidential candidate of a particular political party made predictions about how some actions by the current government could affect our economy negatively. Some members of the party in power quickly ridiculed him and questioned his intellectual ability. Few months on, the predictions made by the Vice Presidential Candidate came to pass. Couldn’t this situation have been averted if his claim wasn’t judged from a political perspective?
Ironically, it’s not only politicians who politicize issues but we, the ordinary Ghanaians are also at fault.
A walk down the principal streets of Accra would expose you to a lot of interesting activities but one that fascinates me is traders doing brisk business on pedestrian lanes and roads meant for cars.One would ask; Are there no markets? My answer is; Yes there are markets. So why have the traders invaded the streets to conduct business? My answer is; Indiscipline on the part of traders. So what are the authorities responsible doing about it? This is where I’m in a quandary. I remember when the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) evacuated traders from the roads, they made reference to a former government giving them the luxury to sell on the streets and branded the sitting government as heartless and won’t be voted for in the next elections. Interestingly, the traders are back on the streets briskly conducting their businesses while officials who are meant to evacuate them look on.
I think it’s time to redefine who we are as a nation, what we want to become as a nation and what is in our best interest as a nation.
Let us unite as a country and make Ghana a better place for posterity to come.