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It’s your issue!...Really?

Akufo Addo Mayday President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Thu, 31 Aug 2017 Source: CAMERON DUODU

I was “whining” about the way “follow-ups” to interesting reports and opinion pieces hardly occur in the Ghanaian media when a fellow columnist said to me: “When you write consistently about something going amiss in our society and no-one takes up the matter in the other media – with the result that, nothing much is done about it – it does not mean people have not been reading your pieces oh.

They read the articles but tag them – mockingly – as “your issue!”

“WHAAAAAT?” I exclaimed, incredulous.

“Yes! Their attitude is that it’s you who have adopted the issue and are making noise about it. Nobody asked you to! Well, good luck to you but don’t expect others to wade in to carry the discussion further. They also have their concerns!”

I said: “But then, they don’t know what true journalism is. In the countries from which the media first emerged, all columnists read one another religiously. For if you don’t read other columnists, your editor will, because the competition is so fierce that he’s always on the lookout for new talent which can help him increase his circulation. So if a columnist from another paper attracts his attention, he might bring him to his paper to compete with his own columnists. Or he may even replace one of his columnists with the columnist he considers brilliant! So if you’re a columnist, you are forced to take note of what other columnists are writing.

“If a columnist on a rival paper thinks of something original and news-worthy and writes a readable piece about it, his fellow columnists on other papers would strive to find aspects of the same matter, that might not have been covered by the original writer, and explore it in their own way. So, very soon, if it’s something that really affects the public welfare, it would become a national issue. It might even cause questions to be asked about it in parliament, where ministers would be obliged to say what they intended to do about it.”

“Ho, ho! Over here, they dismiss it simply by saying it’s your issue! Case closed!”

“How cynical! So, the open gutters which prevent people from walking on the so-called “pavements”?……

“That’s your issue! We’ve had open, stinking gutters since Nineteen Kwadwo-Ho-Ho! And you think anyone will care enough to advocate something being done about them now?.”

“Rubbish left uncollected in the markets and at street corners? Yet Zoomlion being given another lucrative contract?”

“Chum, that’s your issue!”

“An elderly lady suffering from dementia is mistaken for a witch and burnt alive in broad daylight at Tema – and the police have refused to tell the public anything about whether her murderers would be brought to book?”

“Kai! Your issue!! Aren’t witches burnt regularly in other parts of the country? Isn’t there a whole “Witches’ Village” somewhere in Northern Ghana? Don’t the papers report witches “crash-landing” in villages every now and then? That’s your issue”

“Chinese and Ghanaian galamsey operators destroying our rivers and streams? ….The Chinese ambassador offering gifts to the police and the Attorney-General’s Department just when Chinese nationals are being prosecuted for engaging in galamsey….? Ghanaian galamsey kingpins bailing Chinese nationals arrested for galamsey, without any journalists exposing their deeds?….”

“Charlie, it’s your issue! Some highly-placed people think that galamseyers are “merely earning a living” and so should be left alone. Galamsey is destroying the country? That’s your issue!

“Eh? So River Birem Abenaa dies…..”

“Your issue – even though you live in London!”

“Tano Kronkron!……”

”Your issue! It’s been nearly 100 years since R. S Rattray discovered and publicised drum language (as found in Asante) and told us that the drums ask:

“The path crosses the Stream,

The Stream crosses the path,

Which is the elder?…..

We cut the path to meet the Stream,

The Stream is from long long ago;

When the Creator created things.

When the Creator created

Tano kron-kron-kron-kron! [Pure, pure Tano!”

“Oh, we’re busy destroying them all: Densu (sigh!)….Offin …. Prah…. Ankobra …. Red Volta ….White Volta ….. Oti…. Afram…..Anum….Atakora…. Ayensu….. Daka….. Bonsa…..Pru….Tain….!” (sigh-upon-sigh)…..

“Let them die! It’s your issue!”

I reflected: Ei, so this is the sort of thinking that prevails in our nation today? Responsibilities that should accrue to all citizens if our Nation is to survive have become the exclusive issue of a few individuals? Thank God we have a President, Nana Akufo Addo, who is not afraid of adopting “issues” that may even cost him “votes”. Some of those in his own party – who are expected to support his “issues”– are rather causing confusion about the campaign against galamsey and complaining about him adopting “unpopular” issues! How can saving the rivers for future generations be unpopular, except to a few selfish nation-wreckers?

Well, I dare to ask: whose issue is the matter of the $66 million – now said to be actually $72 million– that SSNIT bosses took from the contributions of workers who laboured under regimes that created “high-inflation”, and dashed those huge sums to software contractors whose product doesn’t even work at all? When it was announced that the software deal was being investigated, someone said that this would prove that democracy in Ghana means “winner takes all!”

“Winner takes” all my foot! So because people might say erroneously that our democracy is “punitive”, we should allow $66-72 million to be filched from the public purse and leave the greedy thieves to go scot-free to enjoy their ill-gotten gains? Isn’t that blackmail? “We shall chop the money, and if you take us to court, we shall say that you are doing that only because our party lost the election.” Didn’t one self-confessed money-chopper have the audacity to ask voters to vote for her because otherwise the NPP would put her in prison? Why was she fearful, if she had done nothing wrong?”

No! They will not be punished because their party lost the election. They will be punished according to the law because they are thieves who stole the people’s money. Money that could have been used to end the practice of allowing schools to operate under trees.

Oh yes – that will be my issue all right.

Pubic probity is definitely my issue.

And those who don’t like me taking issue with the theft of public funds, can, in all seriousness, go and – attempt to burn the sea!

Columnist: CAMERON DUODU