Three cheers for Mahama’s media saboteurs

John Mahama New President John Dramani Mahama

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 Source: Ebo Quansah

Do I hear President John Dramani Mahama whining over media sabotage? If the President is feeling the heat over the failure of a section of the media to play ball in an election year, when others are getting compromised, then that is a very good piece of news. I may be one of Mahama’s saboteurs, and a proud Ghanaian.

What does the President want the media to do? Are all men and women of the media supposed to see what does not exist? Are we to continue to behave like robots and applaud an administration that has failed to deliver? I am afraid some of us cannot applaud the mal-administration that has seen the economic fortunes of this nation dip so badly, in spite of the new-found oil money.

According to a report in the Finder Newspaper of yesterday, President Mahama granted an interview to Nigerian-owned Ovation Magazine in Accra, and complained that a certain group of people had taken over the control of the media in Ghana, and were blocking his government’s message. A situation, which, in his view, makes it difficult for the people to know the truth.

“It is populism; a certain group has taken control of the media in Ghana, and it makes it difficult for the people to discern the truth. So, as much as you are putting out the information, it is either being blocked or distorted,” he complained.

I raise three cheers for those media practitioners making life uncomfortable for the President and his moribund administration, if what is sourced to the Head of State represents the truth.

What this means is that in spite of all the rot in the system making many practitioners chase officialdom for pittances, there are still men and women out there frustrating this administration from looting resources of state.

In this era of reckless dissipation of state funds into the pockets of party apparatchiks and those shouting the praises of this moribund administration, I am happy to learn that there are newsmen and women frustrating the President and his appointees.

I bet my bottom pesewa that the so-called frustration borders on cronyism. Six years after it was discovered that bungling officials of this administration had paid Mr. Alfred Woyome, described in official bulletins as a financier of the ruling National Democratic Congress, a whopping GH¢51.2 million for no work done, the Mahama regime has failed to recoup the people’s money.

There is the case of GH¢15 million doled to Azontaba Cottage Industry to rear guinea fowls. The only news from state officials is that all the guinea fowls had migrated to Burkina Faso. Apparently, the birds found their way without a compass, but have never found their way back.

There is the 25 million Euro payment to Waterville, millions in foreign exchange doled out to African Automobile, Isofoton, and many others in reckless judgment payments, in the worst form of cronyism ever known in this society.

What saddens me, as a Ghanaian, is that the President himself has not been spared in deals that shame the Ghanaian. Quite recently, President Mahama was caught in a web of a bribery allegation. The facts of the case would make any normal national weep.

A Burkinabe contractor, Djibril Kanazoe, was introduced to then Vice-President in 2010, after failing to win contracts in Ghana. Kanazoe befriended the then Vice-President Mahama, who sent a high-powered delegation, headed by then Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Mark Woyongo, to the funeral of his late father in 2011.

After the funeral, Mr. Kanazoe was invited through a sole bid to construct a fence wall around a piece of land belonging to the State of Ghana in Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital. Bungling state officials paid an outrageous amount of US$650,000 for the wall.

An over-grateful contractor then sent a brand new Ford Expedition, at a cost of US$100,000, to show his appreciation. That is the official version. Knowing how things pan out in this part of the word, I would not be surprised if a hefty sum of money accompanied the car gift.

For four solid years, no Ghanaian knew of this transaction, until a young journalist took a trip to Ouagadougou on his own to investigate the matter. Suddenly, we are being told that the President did not fall foul of any law, because he gave the car up to be used in his own Presidential pool of vehicles.

I would like to believe poor Mannesah Azure, the reporter who broke the cover on the Ford Expedition saga, his news outfit Joy FM, and those of us who still insist that the manner of the award of the contract to the Burkinabe contractor, and the Ford Expedition gift saga, constitute a perfect case of bribery, are among those newsmen ‘sabotaging’ the President and his failing administration.

I raise my hands in the air and affirm that I have never been an admirer of an administration that has borrowed its way into a huge external and internal debt hole for this lovely Republic.

Not all of us can behave like those who have abandoned their principles and are suddenly shouting on roof-tops in praise of an administration they had loathed over the years, simply because they are now being showered with mansions and four wheel-drives. Everybody likes to be comfortable in life.

It does not certainly mean that we should abandon the principles of holding officialdom to account for the resources of state, just because state largesse is being showered on those defending the indefensible.

I learn that some senior journalists have toured the Volta Region on foot, and have come to realise that all those Voltarians complaining of bad roads are doing so out of mischief. The report on radio seems to suggest that some of these senior men in the media encountered asphalted and well laid out roads in the entire region.

I am told that those making these reports have gained enormously from identifying with the fortunes of this administration. I am afraid not all journalists are in this category. Some of us take our social contracts with the people of Ghana seriously.

I do not think it is out of fun that the framers of the 1992 Constitution gave media practitioners the charge to hold the authority of state accountable to the people. Under Article 162 (5): “All agencies of the mass media shall, at all times, be free to uphold the principles, provisions and objectives of this Constitution, and shall uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people of Ghana.”

I am happy to learn that not all of us are following our stomachs. The Mahamean Economic Theory with its Terkpernomics, I dare state, has failed big time. If borrowing to throw at any problem is what constitutes governance, then we do not need to waste state resources to stage elections after every four years to determine who occupies Government House.

In all fairness, President John Dramani Mahama does not deserve to be on the ballot paper, after his romance with a the Burkinabe contractor led to the loss of a whopping US$650,000 to the state, in that gamut of a contract to construct what I call the Jericho Wall in Ouagadougou, which in turn, begat the Ford Expedition bribery scandal.

Forget about the bunkum of a declaration by the spineless men and women at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice. In any part of the world, unless, perhaps in Yahaya Jammeh’s Gambia and a few banana republics in Africa, the circumstances leading to the Djibril Kanozoe’s Ford Expedition palaver is a clear case of bribery. Yes, the President was bribed. If you ask me to provide further and better and particulars, I would answer by stating in unambiguous terms that the Ford Expedition and, may be, other undisclosed items, were the main reason Kanazoe was awarded two more juicy contracts in this country.

The 25 million Euro contract on the Eastern Corridor Road, and the GH¢82 million contract to construct the road leading to Hamile in the Upper West Region, were influenced by the affairs of the Ford Expedition saga, I will like to emphasise.

This administration has raised the debt profile of Ghana way beyond the HIPC threshold. If opposing reckless misuse of state resources constitutes sabotage, some of us are ready to wear the tag.

I shall return!

Columnist: Ebo Quansah