A genuine test to a well functioning democracy rest on free, fair, fearless and independent media that are committed to ensuring that the goals enshrined in the 1992 constitution are met. After the 2016 election, some media houses and particular journalists became the mouthpiece of the ruling party and the government. Corporate media barons have very close ties with the ruling party, and there is a symbiotic relationship between these media houses and owners and the ruling party.
There is a very scant coverage of the corruption, nepotism, persecution of political opponents and wanton dissipation of state resources going on under this administration. During debates on platforms of these media houses, opposition communicators who try to raise these pertinent national issues are either shouted down or gagged by presenters. Shamelessly, they tout these human rights abusers and corrupt officials as national heroes on their platforms. These media houses paint a negative picture of every politician or Ghanaian who opposes the current President and his government.
Covid-19 has vindicated experts who said the country was facing severe economic slowdown which they attributed to the government’s reckless spendings, corruption, cronyism and collapse of businesses. However, these media houses and the journalists on government payroll contributed and still contributing to covering up the pernicious effects these negative activities, covering up these acts, misled the public just to picture a beautiful picture of this ugly looking government.
The Government has been using the covid-19 pandemic as a cover up to steal state funds, trample upon rights of Ghanaians and to mute the few people who still dare ask questions about the government’s wrongdoing. The government is using the pandemic as a pretext for the imposition of a de facto political emergency. These media houses are corroborating with the government to communalize the pandemic and muzzle dissenters. In addition, the government is using the police and intelligence agencies to the systematic persecution of its political opponents and the media are crowing their appreciation for these moves.
With varied business interests straddling oil and gas to telecom and road construction, owners of these media houses, who now hold big stakes in the country’s news business, can ill afford to rub the government on the wrong side.
Within the mainstream, there continue to be honourable exceptions. There has also been rise of small, but fiercely independent, online portals, fact-checking websites and investigative outlets in the country. Despite facing defamation suits and court cases, they have been responsible for some of the most important news breaks that have kept government in check.
Economic growth has slowed down with top economic experts publishing research that showed that the country’s GDP and other figures released by government and captured state institutions were likely overestimated by so many percentages. Unemployment is at its highest, hundreds of car dealers and other businesses have closed amid a shortage of liquidity in the country’s credit sector and many promises from Akufo-Addo remain unfulfilled, such as his proposal to launch sweeping infrastructure projects across the country, one village one dam, one district one factory, US$1 million for each constituency annually, stabilise the cedi, reduce fuel and utility tariffs, increase salaries of workers, make corruption unattractive etc. The media is no longer able to adequately hold the President or his government to scrutiny. The signs have been clear for a while now. For much of this government’s three and a half years in office, the government seemed to get free pass from the country’s plaint media. The government was recently caught in data manipulation- many influential media outlets failed to ask crucial questions. By initially defending and lauding what most economists called a damaging move and by buying government line, these journalists helped government to cover this shameful act. The IMF’s recent report on the economy reveals that the country’s debt level is dangerous, these journalists helped spread the incorrect perception that phony economics could fix the huge problem we find ourselves as a result of bad economic policies and unprecedented corruption. In the end, covid-19 unsympathetically exposed the unhealthy state of the economy.
So, the Vice President amid the terrible state we find ourselves will shamelessly say: “This election will be fought on corruption, economy and competence. Our record is a solid one and we are ready to fight with it”
He had the courage to make this ridiculous statement because, the media and our journalists have failed to tell him and his boss what the masses say about the corruption, thievery and unprecedented human rights abuses going on in their administration. The media has failed to point out to him the unfulfilled promises, the lies he told Ghanaians and the unethical practices in his government. The President and his Vice should be the last souls to talk about corruption and performance. This administration is the most incompetent, corrupt, dangerous and clueless in the history of Ghana. They have changed how the country calculate its growth and other data. They operate using their own created methods of calculation. Many economists have expressed concern that Ghana’s statistical machinery was being controlled by political considerations but the media will not discuss these sensitive national issues on their platforms.
The best thing about this President and his propaganda team is that they make the sufferer and the poorly poor feel they are better people. Not surprisingly, some Ghanaians not through discomfort of examining their own actions, but from regarding themselves as decent folks looted by corrupt, villainous government.
These corrupt journalists and media houses offer their platforms to government officials to laud their government’s phantom track records and to launch blistering attacks on political opponents- while staying away from certain topics in the headlines.
In their public appearances, the President and the Vice President do not talk about the massive corruption going on in their government, the human rights abuses, manipulation of state institutions, failure to disburse statutory funds, manipulation of data, the suffering of the masses, high fuel prices, collapse of the cedi and businesses, harassment of journalists and political opponents, failure to fulfill their tall promises, poor sanitation, water shortage, family and friends deals going on in the administration. The President and his Vice also remained silent over corrupt allegations against them and their appointees. The unwillingness to delve into contentious issue is part of a long running strategy to present the government as above fray.
Since becoming President, Nana Akufo-Addo has exercised strict control over his fake political brand, making skillful use of his corrupt friends in the media to deceive the public. He uses these preferred friendly media outlets and prearranged questions over format such as genuinely organized news conferences that might deliver surprises.
How many media houses or journalists delved deeply into the evaporated 500 tricycles, the PDS, the Kelni GVG, the ridiculous cost of the National ID Card contract etc. How many are discussing the latest supreme court ruling on the Dr Ayine versus the Attorney General (State) case. The Media under President Akufo-Addo is dead and buried
By Ohenenana Obonti Krow