Monday, 14 April 2014

NPP National Delegates Conference

History was made over the weekend at the  NPP National Delegates Conference which saw the  ousting of an entire  executive.  Apart from Otiko Afisah Djaba who retained  her seat as National Women's Organiser, the entire Jake Obetsebi Lamptey led executive was shown the  exit. 

There are a number of  factors which  could  perhaps have accounted for  this  mishap notable among  them are the  Executive's failure to secure victory for the  NPP in the  December 2012 general election. 

Also was the  decision to challenge the  election  results in court  when the  executive  knew perfectly well they  could  not be  successful. The election petition which dragged  for about eight months impacted negatively on the  national economy  as investors kept a wait and  see posture.

The Tamale Conference if  for nothing at all has succeeded in removing  the  tag on the  NPP as an  Akan party.  As a strategy the  party decided to hold  its  National Delegates Conference in the  North to win back  or  retain the confidence of  party  faithful and  floating voters in that part of the country. 

The  election results have  ensured regional balance on the  National Executive as almost  all tribes are now  represented. Paul Afoko the  new National Chairman deserves tons of commendation for his  resilient  spirit. He emerged victorious despites several machinations to frustrate him out  of  the  race. 

In  a way, this perhaps also gave him sympathy votes. 

Incumbent  Chairman Jake Obetsebi Lamptey deserves no tears for  performing so abysmally in the race garnering only  66 votes as  against  Paul Afoko's 2,034.  Some Analysts believe it was a pay back time  for Mr. Obetsebi Lamptey, for  purchasing a State Bungalow he stayed in whilst a
Minister. 

Also deserving  loud  applause is  the new General Secretary, Kwabena Adjei-Agyepong who a few days to the  Conference had  a near-fatal accident while on his  campaign  which most  people thought will take him out of the  race given the  state of  his vehicle  after the  accident.  

Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, the  out gone General Secretary must  today be  licking his wounds for his indiscretion in coming  out  openly to express  support for  the party's 2012 flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo when nominations are yet  to re-open. 

His vituperation against the  Supreme Court  Judges which landed him  with  a fine  escaping  custodial sentence by the  skin's breath could  also be  cited. The emergence of  firebrands like Sammy Awuku and  John Boadu on the  National  Executive is  likely  to  give party supporters a ray of  hope.  Smooth-talking  Sammy Awuku had a brush with  the  law during  the  Supreme Court  hearing of the  2012
election petition which sent  him spending several weeks in jail. 

As things stand now, the  NPP has been reinvigorated as the party is believed to have jumped a major hurdle which positions it strategically and poised to wrest power  from the  ruling NDC in the 2016 general election. 

This  however will be  a herculean task if the party does not  close its  ranks to wage the  war with  a united
front.  The  shooting of  nine supporters of  the  party at Aboabo a suburb of  Tamale  by  unidentified gunmen is  most  unfortunate and the  perpetrators must  bow  their  heads in shame. 

It is regrettable the  Police  are yet to make  an arrest several days after the incident.  Generally the  successful and   peaceful conduct of the conference  is  indicative of the  NPP's  resolve  to be strategically different  in  election 2016.  It  is  hoped  the vim and  enthusiasm  exhibited by party  supporters in Tamale will be carried over to the election of the flagbearer. 

It  is  too early yet  to  determine  where  the party's choice of  flagbearer  will go but  a local proverb says  a busy market  is  determined the  previous day.  If  the  present  crop of elected leaders have any influence on the  choice of flagbearer then we need to brace ourselves for  a major challenge. 

We  say Ayekoo to the  NPP  for a  conference well organised and  to the  new officers a successful term of office.  To the  losers we say  better luck next time.

BY JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST

Friday, 11 April 2014

Use Of University Of Ghana Road

The University of Ghana has been making the news for a couple of weeks now, since the authorities there decided to recoup an investment they made in respect of putting the road on campus in good shape.

In doing so, the authorities started to collect tolls from motorists who decided to use the road on campus.

This decision did not go down well with the motoring public and at a point in time, national security operatives took an action to demolish  a structure at one of the entry points to Legon campus.

The defence of the National Security coordinator was that the structure was a toll booth under construction. This has since being refuted by the management of the University of Ghana. 

According to some reports, Legon said the structure was not a toll booth, but a gate. 

The issue of the University of Ghana taking steps to recover the amount invested in constructing the road on Campus is not a bad idea in itself. 

But what one finds difficult to understand was when the authorities said in clear terms that even when the government absorbed he loan facility, the collection of tolls will continue.
 
The authorities failed to convince the public why they need to continue  with the toll collection. 

This created the impression that  managers of the university  were just interested in generating revenue at all cost. 

No one can begrudge them if they need to get money for their operations. 

But is it only in the toll collection that the money could be realised? In the ensuing confusion on accessing Legon Campus, the authorities gave a notice to the effect that one  needed a University of Ghana sticker to enter the campus.
 
This is nothing new, as far as Legon campus is concerned. 

It is just fair that one regulates how people, especially motorists enter the campus.

It is also a step in the right direction, when one considers the fact that, the safety and security of the more than 20 thousand students are of utmost importance to the management of the University of Ghana. 

If this is the case,  any action taken in that regard must be supported. 

The position is that, if the University of Ghana  had given out well coordinated message out to the public that its action was in the interest of protecting life and property, the controversy could have been avoided.

Media inquiries to get the authorities of Legon to explain issues further on the tolling of the road were not honoured. As a result, different kinds of stories made the rounds in the media.

Even when the management was refuting the claim by National Security that the demolished structure was a gate, a simple media engagement to show the plan of the gate under construction could have made the  public know who was telling the truth.

The concern of those  using the Madina-Tetteh Quarshie Road is that the action of Legon authorities should not worsen the traffic situation.

What this controversy on the use of the Legon campus road has brought  to the fore is the lack of proper planning of our cities.

Most public institutions have suffered wanton encroachment, even to the extent of threatening the very existence of those institutions.

The University of Ghana, when established some 66 years ago, may have been far away from human settlements.

It was at a time that population may not have been an issue to the extent of seeing settlements developing literally encircling the University entirely.

It got to a point when people had to use the Legon campus as a thoroughfare to get to their homes.

With such settlements, city planners ought to have provided a number of alternative routes to reduce the dependence on the Legon campus road.

This, the city planners did not do. Even if they did at all, the haphazard manner  settlements sprung up around Legon, have made it difficult to provide alternative routes.

The unfortunate situation Legon finds itself now is to enforce its rules which might have been relaxed some years ago in the name of good neighbourliness.

The reality  is that the UG campus road, especially the entry from GIMPA has served the public for some considerable number of years, so any action to prevent its use especially to people who do not have any business at Legon, will not be taken leniently.

But if we expect  the university to live up to its mission of developing world class human resource, then any decision at providing the right atmosphere to achieve this, must be supported.

The officials of the Department of Urban Roads, planners and social scientists need to seriously engage themselves so that more alternative routes could be developed to avoid the Legon campus.

With the issue of traffic, it is not out of place to promote high occupancy vehicles to reduce the dependence on private vehicles  on Madina-Tetteh Quarshie road.

For the authorities of Legon, it is imperative to step up public information on its rules to help address the misconception that it is a public facility and for that matter anybody can just walk or drive in at will.

Good neighbourliness will mean that Legon authorities dialogue with the residents Association of settlement  closer to campus, so that, they can find a common ground to live peacefully.

While advocating that nothing is done to undermine the academic freedom of Legon, the authorities there also need to take their action in  cognisance of the reality on the ground,  having been hemmed in by new  settlements that have sprung up, a situation which may not augur well for quality academic work and safety of the thousand of students on campus. 

What this means is that constructive engagement with key stakeholders should be the order of the day. 

In this way, Legon may not be seen as being on a confrontational course with the public whose taxes are used to support the administration of the University of Ghana. 

The current hullabaloo on accessing  Legon should not cloud the good deeds that institution is doing in developing quality human resource. 

Anything that will compromise the development of that quality human resource must not be entertained.

BY : BRIGHT KOFI AGAMAH, MEDIA PRACTITIONER

Effects Of Radio Discussions On Society

Ghana over the years, especially with the proliferation of radio and television stations, has seen an increase of public discussion in the media. This system known to be ‘Public Sphere’ has provided the people of this country insightful knowledge on certain national issues. At the same time it has caused a level of division among the populace as well as indecency on the nation’s airwaves. According to Jurgen Habermas, who propounded theories on the subject of public sphere, “it is defined as ‘a domain of a social life in which public opinion or something close to it could be formed.” Public Sphere also can be seen as a theatre in modern societies in which political participation is enacted through the medium of talk. This, in Ghana for instance, is done actively in the media especially the electronic media. In some cases, it has been overdone and created problems in a way for the country and panelists of TV and Radio programmes. For democracy to triumph in our society, Radio and TV discussions on national matters should be meaningful and have bearing on national development rather than creating antagonism and resentment among citizens. Radio and in some cases TV discussions have actively involved audience. This is commendable because it brings out the opinion of as many citizens as possible for discussions, though it has its own attendant problems. Today, the concept of Public Sphere has been more relevant in our democratic dispensation as a nation than ever. There is no doubt that the mass media still play a very crucial role in forming and reflecting public opinion. It brings the ‘world’ closer to the individual and the society at large while it also sets the agenda for debates.

Unfortunately, the trend of public discussions on Radio stations in Ghana leaves much to be desire. The problem has to do with professionalism, language, hosting, contributions, and phone-ins, among others. Most radio talk show hosts for lack professionalism in most cases allow their panelists to take over programmes thus misinforming listeners. In some cases political parties have been allowed by some of these stations to primarily do active propaganda to divide the people.

Media ownership and control in this country has not been the best. Media owners have not expressed any concern about what is going on in the electronic media. Today, the electronic media especially, radio appears to be the most popular media particularly during the daytime. All over the place, unlike other mediums, newspapers, portable radio sets are carried everywhere. Many mobile phones and other electronic gadgets also have radio facilities. So at the market place, offices, in moving vehicles, rooms, and almost everywhere, one can listen to the radio. To this end, the effect of all the negativities is wide spread. Today all politicians have turned themselves into experts on every subject, from politics to economics, health and education. Talk show hosts must and should not pitch political opponents against each other which almost always inflame passion. They should rather host people with expertise on topics under discussion. There is the need for workers on radio to respect the rights and freedom of the listeners and other organizations and institutions. Code of ethics must be enforced to the letter. Moves by the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) and the National Media Commission (NMC), to bring sanity in the media need commendation. For we need decency in our country. There are no in-house regulations for many radio and TV stations by way of values and standards. We will want to see electronic media houses enforce codes which set standards and practices on discussions and programmes.

BY: NANA SIFA TWUM, COMMUNICATION EXPERT .