A former Breakfast Show anchor at Ghana Television, Earl Ankrah, has come out to strongly defend Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah and Presidential Running Mate of the oppositionNNational Democratic Congress (NDC), Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang, following relentless public backlash against the two opposing political figures since the recent nomination of the later.
Media watchers have been blunt and unforgiving in questioning the neutral integrity of the two, when they both moderated the 2012 Presidential Debate, organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs.
Given the appointment of Hon. Oppong-Nkrumah as the ruling New Patriotic Party’s government spokesperson and the appointment of Prof. Opoku-Agyemang, first as the National Democratic Congress’ Minister for Education under President John Mahama, and now on his ticket to the December polls, critics are of the impression that the two could not have been neutral moderators back then, as the public was made to believe.
Earl Ankrah however says those criticisms maybe misguided because the journalism profession, “which places us in a privileged position to hold decision-makers to account on behalf of the public, has a way of anaesthetizing the lens-bearer of all political, ethnic, social, religious or other allegiances within the moment”.
The reason, according to him is that, “most of the time, you’re working to impress, not only the public, but the industry and professional peers.
He said he took the time to watch the debate again recently and concluded that “whoever watches it through prisms of political bias, would be bequeathed with a dozen reasons for which to sustain that view; and whoever chooses to see them as being neutral wouldn’t have a hard time identifying a dozen reasons to do so”.
Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who hosted Joy FM’s Super Morning Show for some time, has indicated to parliament that he was a card-bearing member of the NPP when he was moderating the debate, but that he however handled it professionally. Professor Naana Opoku Agyemang was the hostess of “Platform”, a popular talk programme on Radio Gold, a station known to be sympathetic towards the NDC.
When asked if any negotiations went on behind the scenes into the selection of the moderators, Mr. Ankrah said, “Not that I know of.” He added, “of course we all vote during elections for one party or the other.
But when the stakes are high, as it was during the debate, your professional integrity floats above whatever your affiliation is, bearing in mind that discerning people are listening; and for industry professionals, the difference between professionalism and pussy-footing would be too clear”, he said, citing the taglines of Radio Gold and Joy FM.”.
Earl Ankrah is an avid campaigner for what is known in Ghanaian elections as “skirt and blouse voting”, where the voter chooses a presidential candidate from one of the two main parties and a parliamentary candidate from the other main party. According to him, that way, we would have a practical balance of power, and all the clamoring by civil society for power-sharing between the two main parties would have been technically dealt with. “Both parties would be compelled to negotiate every decision before budgetary endorsements are granted, to the benefit of the electorate. It would also be mostly impossible for an incumbent to abandon projects commenced by a previous government”.
Earl Ankrah is a multiple award-winning former morning show host of Ghana Television’s Breakfast Show. He is currently the Head of Public Affairs at Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, where he has worked under both governments to promote the Single Spine Pay Policy.