The government has no moral justification

Sun, 22 Dec 2013 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

The government has no moral justification for blaming Akufo-Addo

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Folks, I have for many years now been insisting that the Ministry of Information (in its former and current configurations with the addition of "Media Relations" to its name) is irrelevant to the contemporary Ghanaian system of governance.

I have also called for its abolition, simply because it is not serving any useful purpose. Whatever public/media relations work that the government needs can be done by the Communications Directorate at the Presidency if the requisite calibre of people are employed there to rake in public goodwill and not contempt or scorn for the government.

Elsewhere, no government goes out of its way to have a Ministry of Information that doesn't justify the expenditure of the tax payers' money on it. Someone, tell me. What particular useful and significant, lasting achievement has this Ministry of Information and Media Relations made all these years?

What comes from that Ministry that is not already passed on to the public by other information outlets? In effect, what exactly is this Ministry being retained to achieve? It can't even do damage control to save the government from the daily bashing that goes on.

How many of the hostile mass media of communication (especially the print and electronic media that don't see anything good about the NDC) has this Ministry of Information and Media Relations been able to win over to confirm that it is indeed capable of doing a "media relations" work?

Or to even suggest that it knows how to manage information so that the negative press given the government can be either neutralized or disregarded by the public. Nothing!!!

Under President Mahama, especially, this Ministry of Information and Media Relations has turned out to be causing more harm to his government than any good that might still warrant its existence.

Mahama Ayariga has goofed on numerous occasions and painted a very bad picture of himself and the government as either "irresponsible" or "insensitive". In other words, much of the bad press that the government gets stems from the irresistible tendency of Ministers/Deputy Ministers of that Ministry to embarrass the government more than do anything to help it claw back lost public goodwill.

Talk about the flip-flopping that Ayariga has done to create the impression that the government is dishonest when it comes to information dissemination. Then, add to it the current problem that the Media Development Fund has generated because Ayariga said too many contradictory things in one breath!

His Deputies, especially Murtala Ibrahim Mohammed, have also goofed on several occasions and made irritating utterances.

Plainly put, these are novices that don't know anything about information management and shouldn't have been placed at that Ministry—assuming that the Ministry itself deserves being maintained.

Here is the latest statement from Murtala Mohammed to prove that he is a liability:

“The government is blaming Nana Akufo-Addo and two others who initiated the election petition case for its failure to build the 50 community day senior high schools promised this year.

Murtala Ibrahim Mohammed, Deputy Minister for Information and Media Relations, however, assured that the total of 200 schools will be built by the end of 2016 just as promised by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) during the 2012 electioneering period.

Speaking on TV3’s Agenda, the Deputy Minister, who is also Member of Parliament for Nanton Constituency, asserted that the Mahama-led government is not the first to miss a policy target.

‘... It is not a crime,’ he stressed, blaming the missing of one of the key manifesto promises on many factors including the decision by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and two others to contest the results of the 2012 elections. ‘The Supreme Court [proceedings] affected us economically,’ he stated”.

(Source: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=295842)

What arrant nonsense?

True, the petition hearing created distortions here and there but cannot be upheld as the cause of the government's inability to perform its functions. At the time the hearing was going on, did President Mahama not remain in office to govern the country? Did he not know the development agenda that won him the general elections?

How much money did the government take from the national coffers to pay for the petition hearing to suggest that its budget was negatively affected?

Of course, the atmosphere of gloom and insecurity that the petition hearing created might have discouraged investors from doing business, which some government officials were quick to adduce as the cause of the hundreds of millions of dollars lost; but I doubt that what Murtala Mohammed has said is justifiable at all by any stretch of imagination.

True, we may blame Akufo-Addo for certain happenings in the country, especially the volatile environment that the NPP created after losing the 2012 elections; but the security agencies stamped their authority on the situation to prevent any catastrophe. And the Supreme Court exhaustively ended it all for the NPP.

So, now, how would Akufo-Addo come in to be blamed as the cause of the government's inability to fulfill its own electioneering campaign promise of building 50 new SHS a year to give Ghana 200 of such schools by the end of President Mahama's first term in office?

At the time that promise was made, voices of reason quickly stepped in to caution the NDC against it because it was not feasible. Viable it might be, but it couldn't be accomplished and needed to be retracted. They didn't, and now that they have come face-to-face with their own under-performance on that score, they are blaming poor Akufo-Addo for their own failure. Sad!!

In truth, Murtala Mohammed’s utterance is the most irresponsible that I have heard in many years. I hope he won’t come out to deny it or run away from the truth to say that he has been misquoted. His is a clear instance of lazy thinking. It is a clear demonstration of extreme lousiness for which I expect the President to call him to order.

Speaking for the government means being responsible; but he isn’t. If the government thinks that it can shift blame this way and still expect public sympathy, it is deceived. Isn’t it saddening for this kind of politics to be done?

Yes, blame Akufo-Addo for what he is and is already known for; but not when he has no hand in the government’s own miscalculations and failures. How do some of these government functionaries think at all?

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.