Efo Mawugbe Writes:
There is no gainsaying the fact that the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections of Ghana was fraught with several irregularities and discrepancies, owing to the claims and evidences adduced by the Opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and other independent bodies.
Elections all over the world, have witnessed the media, as the fourth estate of the realm play a critical role in ensuring the safe guarding of the sanctity and credibility of the elections through a constructive unbiased analysis and fair reportage of the elections.
It was in view of these, that Joseph Pulitzer, a Newspaper Publisher for St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the New York World reminds us that “an able disinterested public spirited Press with trained intelligence to know the right and courage to do it, can preserve that public virtue, without which popular government is a sham or mockery”.
Against this background it is important to call out these media houses I term “six dishonest men” for their shambolic, bias, unprofessional and agenda setting propaganda they exhibited during the just ended elections. In as much as we commend the media for their tireless coverage of the elections, these criticisms however are necessary to help shape the media going forward.
Reportage on elections day by Media houses like Metro TV, Multi media, TV3, UTV, Peace fm, and Angel TV/fm leaved much to be desired as they jettisoned professionalism and decorum to the dogs and resorted to what can best be described as “rented Journalism” set loose by their pay masters to influence the judgement of the electorates through the fictitious and voodoo figures they churned out during and after the elections.
It was so strange to see the aforementioned media houses display the same figures as possessed by the ruling NPP on their elections screen board to the chagrin of the electorates, especially when majority of the media houses also have different figures that reflected the reality on the ground.
The Six Dishonest men
What was more shocking, perhaps the last straw that broke the camel’s back was the fact that it was the same figures displayed by those houses that the EC also used and displayed on their website. The unanswered question which till date sets tongues wagging is that could it be that, the EC could not collate its own figures the reason it had to rely on the figures of the “six dishonest men”? Your guess is as good as mine.
Other well meaning Ghanaians have also attributed the mistakes as contained in the final results declared by the EC (which mistakes the EC itself admitted) to lack of adequate and credibly obtained figures by the EC. These electoral anomalies by the EC coupled with the seeming co-ordinated and organized agenda setting propaganda by the six dishonest men was what triggered an outrage by the General Secretary of the NDC Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah who called out those media houses and vehemently questioned their source of figures which were incongruent to the real figures.
These wanton irregularities in the elections reportage and subsequent declaration precipitated Candidate John Mahama whom many have described as the clear winner of the elections to reject the Presidential election results as declared by the EC Chair Jean Mensah describing it as “fictionally flawed election results”.
It was shameful, scornful and with absurdity to see how Staff of these six dishonest men conspicuously wear their “political colours” whilst analyzing the figures and whimsically projecting one Candidate as leading with as many as 149 seats in utter disregard for the rules of engagement as far as Journalism is concerned.
They must be reminded that Ghana’s fledgling democracy is susceptible to pandemonium and turmoil. Ghana, just as any African country can be plunged into chaos arising out electoral disputes if media houses like the six dishonest men continue to work as though Journalism stands for “ he who pays the piper calls the tune”.
It is high time we as Journalists made the interest of the people take precedence over our parochial interest for that is the basic tenets of the profession.
The GJA in my view has not done enough in this regard. The GJA must purge its ranks and crack the whip on media houses whose dealings portend danger to our democracy and drag the image of the noble profession into disrepute.
Imagine if former President Mahama, after rejecting the election results had declared himself President and ordered street protests as was witnessed some time ago in Zimbabwe and Togo by late Morgan Tsangirai and Jean Pierre Fabre respectively, what would have happened to this peaceful nation touted as the beacon of peace in Africa?, all because of the selfish actions and inactions of those media houses.
As a Journalist with several years of rich experience, I am always guided by this infamous statement by late Kofi Annan in reference to the Rwandan genocide that” If the pictures of tens of thousands of human bodies being gnawed on by dogs do not wake us out of our apathy, I do not know what will”.
We all do not want Ghana to blow up in anarchy, owing to the fact that bullets don’t discriminate. The reason we need to, as it were peer review each other and tell those media Houses that they have embarrassed the inky fraternity and therefore must come out and apologize to Ghanaians for their professional inept and faux-pas. This way, we will be nipping in the bud that shenanigan and machinations of election coverage by Metro TV, UTV, TV3, Multi-media, Peace fm and Angel TV/fm, else conflict is not impossible.
A word to a wise is enough.