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President's encounter with the press: My take

Nana Addo 6 Meeting Maiden Press President Akufo-Addo addressed pressmen on his first six months in office

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

The first ever presidential encounter with the media organized for President Akufo-Addo to account for his first 6 months in office was a major step in our journey through the narrow road of democracy.

This is the first time in our history that the president of the day has availed himself to media scrutiny in his first six months in office. It has always been an annual affair since president Kufour initiated it.

It is refreshing to see government eager to answer to the people and give account of their stewardship to those who gave them the power: our generation is blessed

My problem is that the presidential encounter with the media turned out to be Cabinet Encounter with the media and I find everything wrong with it.

On such a day, I like to see my President answer all the questions from the media to give me the impression that he has full grasp of the issues and well briefed by his appointees.

The media always gets to meet the ministers and do ask them questions in relation to their sectors on regular basis in the Meet the Press Series

I'm view of this, when the President decides to meet the Press and answer question, I like to see him demonstrate diverse knowledge and authority over the issues because in the end, he is supposed to exercise oversight responsibility over all the ministries and ministers.

Even though people are touting the President's decision to have his appointees answer questions in relation to their sectors as a novelty, display of magnanimity and penchant for teamwork, I sensed a bailout

Teamwork is keeping your president adequately informed and abreast with what is going on in your ministry such that he can speak accurately to issues pertaining to your ministry as if he works there.

Team work isn't serving as a backup to the president at his press conference. Team work is preparing him to deliver on his own without you. This is my opinion and to an extent that of those who think it sent the signal that our president was not on top of the issues.

The program wasn’t supposed to be with Cabinet Press Conference.

Even the most divided group can come together to answer questions at a press conference in relation to what they do.

The same people praising the president for involving his appointees would have used all kinds of superlatives to describe him for his dexterity over issues if he answered all the questions by himself.

Going forward, accredited journalists should be made to submit their questions days before the engagement so that the president is well briefed ahead of the encounter with the press.

This is done in many advanced democracies and presents leaders the opportunity to answer with facts and not logic and opinion

Equally, they can change the name of the program to give an indication that it is not a time with the president but a time with Cabinet. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this too.

Going forward, follow-up questions should be allowed because some of the answers were not so clear. Benard Avle asked a question of whether government is not reneging on the promise to cut down on borrowing but the Veep didn't answer directly and ended up focussing on debt to GDP ratio and why we are currently positioned to borrow without suffering like we used to as a country.

The problem with the question itself was that aside getting the facts about our debts wrong, Bernard calculated proposals and added the amounts involved to money borrowed by the NPP government. Bonds issued to pay off debts were presented as borrowed money adding to the debt stock and this should have been corrected before any answer.

The wrong question which has become the highlight of the encounter led to an indirect long technical lecture from our Vice President. A follow-up might have dealt with it.

Going the way of the past government by omitting media houses in bed with the opposition was quite a setback and hopefully, it would be dealt with next time.

If NDC omitting Oman FM was wrong in the past, repeating same is worse because it sends a signal that we changed people to continue with the same wrongs

That notwithstanding, our president looked great and very well composed, showed an amazing sense of humour and orated as good as we have known him for. He was apt with the questions he chose to answer directly and made the entire occasion a wonderful one.

I saw honesty in his answers and was very happy because many a times when you listen to politicians, what you get is a conscious effort to be smart instead of being honest.

His persona really contradicts the impression created about him some years ago that he was the man who’d take us to the third world war if given a crack at the presidency. Fast forward the time, we are here, Nana is our President and he is as cool as any rational human being and with a drive to build Ghana like none I have seen since 92.

What this government needs is our collective support, prayer and honesty. Our criticisms should seek to build instead of destroying.

If this government fail, we are in trouble as a nation because when a people loses hope in politics due to continues disappointment, you get a Tunisia, Egypt or worse

Ghanaians deserve to dream and live the dream. This can be done with everyone’s active involvement in building our beautiful nation.

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh