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To Elizabeth Ohene, with love from an ‘all knowing neutral’

Fri, 4 Sep 2020 Source: Isaac Ato Mensah

The article “All knowing neutrals” published 2 September 2020 on graphic.com.gh, a media house where Ms. Elizabeth Ohene, the celebrated journalist, recently returned as “guest editor” exposes the typically poor nature of our public discourse in ghana.

What we need in any fair minded and useful rebuttal is a point by point analysis of the offending document and a lucid presentation of the contradicting facts, evidence and reason.

To not provide such but instead level counter accusations is not helpful; frankly, it mimics a retort from a quarrelsome less than well schooled relative seated in my village family house compound.

To write, “Many of these organisations cannot count a dozen people as their members and they would want us to see them as repositories of all wisdom,” is petty.

Since when did a heterogenous group of over 500 individuals riding around in governnent V8s assure us of any consistent rational thoughts and actions, let alone wisdom?

Has Ohene not read our blog posts?

In criticising CSOs for demanding accountability on the basis that they pay “the president and members of the government”, Ohene jabbed: “The question that must necessarily follow is who is paying the CSOs?

Their donors tend to be foreign and not Ghanaian. Who are they accountable to, would it be to Ghanaians or to the source of their funding?”.

For the record; sober, honest and enlightened people are from time immemorial accountable to no one; they are accountable only to their conscience.

The proper method in this enterprise is to critique what the NGOs and CSOs have to say and why their funding bias has affected their publications.

Well, “those in government” are not dumb, Ohene has contended.

Indeed we concede that they are smarter than the rest of us.

But truly, on the daily basis of the public record, their disingenous conduct and sheer lack of gravitas show that they are continously “dumbing down” this nation from Ghana to ghana.

Ohene wrote that the CSOs “are experts on [……] anything and everything else” aka too known.

Here we shall refuse to take the bait as that statement has no place in enlightened discourse.

But let us politely ask Ohene who was minister of state at the Ministry of Education how many ministers or appointees enrolled their children in public basic schools while she was there?

Is that not a real measure of integrity and the power of their knowledge base?

On the banking crisis, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was not “the lone voice in the wilderness warning we had a banking crisis coming”, as Ohene averred.

The biblical analogy falls flat; the political platform is not the sole site for knowledgeable and informed public discourse.

There were multiple other inspired voices from say academia, the Bank of Ghana, National Security, my beer bar, if we care to listen attentively.

Furthermore her contention that the thoroughly lackluster response of the government to the pandemic has been the reason for the relatively and thankfully low number of fatalities is risible.

How can we forget the half hearted pathetic two city lockdown or the 3374 blood samples left at a lab in Takoradi for many weeks?

Therefore whatever “science and data” the President used in formulating his decisions and “fellow Ghanaians” addresses was terribly flawed.

As of today, the Minister for Information has not been able to say where the 200 ventilators are, nor has he been able to show us the mobile ventilators in the 308 ambulances.

To write and refute that “health workers were said to be dying by the truckload” is quite insensitive and cold.

By the way, when will, POTROG address the nation solely on how he intends to combat malaria; once, twice, fifteen times?

Now that is a disease which for decades continues to kill mainly children “by the truckload”.

Clearly, Elizabeth Ohene, who has been officially announced as a member of the President Akufo-Addo and NPP manifesto/campaign communication team for the December elections, is struggling to find effective responses for her patrons, and for the discerning public.

There are more than enough people (many of them on the public payroll) already thrashing about at Mediocrity Central.

Surely, we cannot be wrong to expect that Ms. Ohene will not join them, but will instead apply her high professional standards to elevate our public discourse.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah