The second edition of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s encounter with the media came off on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at the Flagstaff House.
“Presidential Media Encounter” as it is commonly referred to, the event serves as a platform for journalists in the country to interact with the president on a wide range of issues that are of national interest.
The President, thus on Wednesday January 17, 2018 decided to engage the media albeit in a hurried manner.
The session opened with about a hundred journalists, twenty of whom were going to be given the opportunity to 'grill' the president. Selected from various media houses across the country, moderator for the occasion, Mustapha Hamid, made it a point to have a 'fair representation' to allow for journalists from across the regions have the opportunity to do the needful grilling. Gender equality was also key on Mr Hamid's radar as he sought to give as many females as there were males the opportunity to ask all kinds of questions.
Many were called, but rather few people were chosen - a situation that led to many journalists going home frustrated having been denied the opportunity to interact with the president on such a platform. Others were consoled by selfies they managed to take with the president at the end of the program.
The reactions to the questions asked on the day have been varied with a significant number of Ghanaians expressing worry over the kinds of questions 'senior' journalists managed to come up with at the event. The Media Foundation for West Africa late on Wednesday, went as far as to even grade the questions asked by the journalists - a situation that has led to many wondering if indeed the otherwise high standards of the profession are beginning to fall as is being speculated by some.
A spirited defense by some journalists however is that the Minister for Information who doubled as moderator for the event did not give them the opportunity to ask their more 'relevant' questions. Names of journalists such as Evans Mensah, Umaru Sanda Amadu, Francis Abban, Kwabena Kyenkyenhene Boateng etc. have all come up as people who could have otherwise given the President a tougher job on the day.
So, on the morning of Thursday, January 18, 2017, host of the Citi Breakfast Show, Bernard Avle, gave Umaru Sanda Amadu, one of such journalists the opportunity to share with Ghanaians the question he intended asking the president at the 'Meet-the-Press' encounter.
Apparently, the young and talented journalist had two questions for the President. One on the state of sanitation in the country, and another on the seizure of state cars.
His first question read, "You borrowed $48 million in August [last year] for sanitation purposes. As a radio station we have been tracking these issues and one year after your promise, Accra still stinks. Indeed some 40% of basic schools in Accra[in Ghana] are without toilet facilities and there's little to show for the sanitation ministry created by your government. Mr President, can you give us timelines that you may have tasked the Sanitation Ministry and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly in these plans to make the city clean."
Umaru Sanda's second question was focused on the Taskforce set up by the Chief of Staff to retrieve state cars.
"In February last year the Chief of Staff set up a taskforce state vehicles which were yet to be handed over to the government by individuals contrary to the law. There have been claims and counter-claims about how many vehicles were left behind by the previous government. We are also aware based on various claims made by members of your government that some vehicles have indeed been retrieved. How many vehicles have been retrieved so far? Where are these vehicles? And while we are at it, has your government imported the 33 vehicles whose purchased was commenced by the Mahama government?”
Meanwhile, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) in a post-event report have analyzed and assessed the overall arrangement and format of the event, quality of the questions that were asked, the quality of the President’s responses to the questions and made some recommendations for future encounters.
The document has been presented with the following sections: format of the event; quality of questions asked; critical missing pieces, the President’s performance and recommendations.
In spite of the numerous scandals that have reared its head under the Akufo-Addo administration after one year in office, the President has described his achievements and the performance of his 110 ministers as “remarkable”.