Ghana is becoming a very interesting place to be... that’s the response I give to the numerous questions from friends now staying outside who ask “how is home” or “who do you think will win?”
Or you do not agree it is an interesting place? When you have political parties that recorded less than 3 percent votes in a previous election (never mind claims that the leader at the time wasn’t attractive) confident that they’ll garner 50+1 votes to win the next elections? When you have leading members of political parties declaring their support and extolling the virtues of another political party (never mind the fact that that politician and the person today leading his own party did that in the previous election) all in the quest to retain membership of the august house of parliament? When you have seasoned politicians and senior lawyers meeting to discuss a political alliance and without seeking the approval of the NEC or congress as stipulated in their constitution go ahead to announce a merger? When a political party that won more votes in an election agrees to play second fiddle in a merger?
Aren’t we an interesting people, my friends? Aren’t we interesting when reaching the police department is like going through hell? One of my Sales Executives had a nasty experience with armed robbers on Thursday night in front of her gate, and her distress call to many including me proved futile as neither of us could help by reaching the police.
That was going to be the focus for this week’s piece so we examine together how to improve police-public communications. There are very simple solutions to problems but sometimes, I don’t know what it is, but it is so far fetched for those who should be handling that. Why is it not possible for me to call the police and get a response one-touch? Why should reaching the police be a 3rd world war? And what at all is the sense in mounting barriers that only lead to traffic jams, and creates begging points for the men in black, strangely now assisted by their friends in camouflage? Why, when at that material time the criminals who should be chased away do not have any badges on their forehead to show that they are the criminals, and when innocent, law abiding citizens are been robbed and killed without any outlet to reach the police who are busily begging for money at check points that serve no purpose?
I am not saying that our police force aren’t working hard, they are, and for somebody who has had a good working relationship with them for a while and indeed created outlets for the improvement in police public relations, I can attest and defend them. But we are far from perfection. And I will be proposing to the government, the public and the police service, what I consider points worth considering in the quest to making access to the police easier and also improving the psyche and alertness of the police.
I will be writing extensively on this next week because a number of developments on the political scene has necessitated that I talk some more politics this week. There have been a number of interesting reactions to my piece of last week and as I have always stated, it is an encouragement that people now love to express themselves and so long as we are civil about it, and take praises or criticisms in good faith, we can talk about deepening democracy. I know there are those who will take serious issues with my points above about Ghana been an interesting place and the reasons I give for that. It’ll be as if it’s personal but trust me it is not.
Same way, when I talk about my friend Asa B, who is putting up a brave fight, it is as if he is in a hurry to prove to the President and the hierarchy of his party that he’ll not disappoint them following is new posting. From his Meet the Press outburst to warning and threats to officials of the Information Services Department (ISD), Asa B is showing the full traits of embarking on a propaganda exercise which is a key component of the NPP’s campaign for December 2008.
Asa B’s outbursts and warning to the ISD officials at Cape Coast has not gone down well with some of them and they are already grumbling. Grumbling not because they would not work but why they are been pushed and threatened to go do political propaganda and not government information dissemination. Sometimes you get lost mapping out the functions of the ISD.
Sometime ago, we had Information officers (PROs) in all the ministries. Today you hardly spot them as their functions have been taken over by special assistants and aides some of whom are doing a great job, while others are no better than the clueless telephone answering secretaries.
My thinking is that, some DIO & RIO’s are getting things confused because it appears government is happing and pushing them into the bush now and in a manner akin to political campaigning. And the administrative heads have responded and are touring the country to make sure that the officers do what is right.
These are not new developments, ISD officials have been doing stuff like this for long. It is strange how their relevance is completely lost in the cities. During my national service days up north and my sojourns in the Western regions while I was a little younger I saw at first hand the workings of the ISD and its officials. Those were the days I had access to all kinds of materials on government activities, projects, speeches of the PNDC Chairman etc compiled into books and available at the Information Centres, where you also get the newspapers to read for free.
The PRO’s were also responsible for some ministerial bulletins that detailed daily news briefs. Do they still do that? Anyway, Asa B is a very effective person and I know he’ll succeed in his task but he needs to cool down so political motives rather than nationalistic interests are not ascribed to his actions.
Haven said that let me welcome Mrs. Oboshie Sai Cofie to the Tourism ministry and I can see she is already in firm control. Congrats for your work at the Information ministry. You did well, never mind some of the faux pas and difficulty we had in comprehending some of the explanations and excuses put forward by your deputy Frank Agyekum and yourself sometimes.
And by the way, where is Kofi Amponsah Bediako, one of the government spokespersons? Undoubtedly, he and one Mrs. Afeku have been more than disastrous to government when it comes to information management and defending of government policy. How they are miles adrift from the likes of Kwaku Kwarteng, Ohene Ntow and Kwabena Agyepong I don’t know, but I trust Asa B will help straighten things.
Stanislav Xoese DOGBE is the Managing Editor of the dailyEXPRESS, JIVE & GAMES Newspapers. Formerly of JoyFM where he was Head of Talk Programs, Stanislav is currently a Marketing Communications Consultant.