Political Communicators Must Be Circumspect In Their Utterances

For a week, the arrest and detention of the Deputy General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Koku Anyidoho, has dominated the airwaves and the media space. This is as a result of an interview the NDC scribe granted an Accra-based radio station where he commented on the Ghana-US Defence cooperation agreement. In the said interview, Mr. Anyidoho warned that President Nana Akufo-Addo could be overthrown, in a “civilian coup d’état”. This has been described by the security agencies as treasonable comments. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) subsequently arrested Mr. Anyidoho. He was detained by the CID and spent two nights in the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and later granted bail. Due to the arrest, he could not take part in the demonstration against the government in relation to the Ghana-US defence cooperation agreement of which he was a leading organiser.

One would ask what the relationship between the Ghana-US Defence cooperation agreement and the statement Mr. Anyidoho made in respect of a “civilian coup d’état” was Indeed, this is not the first time a Ghanaian politician has made such a condemnable statement. All the time, they meant different from what they actually said and ironically; their peers would stand by them at all cost. Our politicians especially those whose positions demand that they speak often to the public, must understand the nitty-gritties of their chosen career and how effectively and peacefully they apply it. This is because their messages generate public debate. Political communication is a subfield of communication and political science which focuses on how information spreads and influences politics and policy makers, the news media and citizens. Importantly, political communication is and will continue to be a central component in democracy which political leaders use to canvass for votes and to air their views. It is regrettably misused generally in Ghana. We see and hear political opponents on radio and TV trading intemperate words and misleading audience, all in the name of “party communication.” These individuals cannot continue to hide behind the beauty of freedom of speech for any diabolical practice. They must bear in mind the popular quote of Iddi Amin that “I can guarantee your Rights to Freedom of speech but I cannot guarantee your Rights after the speech.”

Political parties in the country must provide training for their communicators so that they will exhibit decorum in their delivery. It is certainly not about sheer eloquence or knowledge about issues. It is tactical, knowledge and skills, which need to be acquired and used for party and nation. Good communication takes serious view of when to make statements, where to make them, how to make them, the audience and importantly on the part of the politician, the state of the nation. Every communicator must talk to unite the country rather than cause disunity. The media, which is the medium, must also be circumspect in who they offer their platforms to. The need for our political leaders to be much more circumspect in their delivery to ensure peace in the country has been paramount than ever, for Plato once said that "Wise men speak because they have something to say; but fools speak because they have to say something."

BY: NANA SIFA TWUM, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT – LONDON-UK.

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