In the chest of Paul Adom Otchere

Ghana Thinks

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A few years ago I attended a wedding reception where the groom gave himself an anti climax to the celebration. He had asked the MC to allow him sing a song, Ankwanobi, from the repertoire of the Ghanaian highlife musician, Obuoba J. A. Adofo, for whatever reason, in furtherance of the beauty of the ceremony.

At the height of the programme, the MC invited him over, amidst thunderous applause, as he stepped down in his all-white slim-fit suit, with white tie on his blue inner, all complementing his bold silver watch, well trimmed low-cut dark hair, with a bold black designer spectacle to match his gentle black shoes,  a young corporate management trainee who had earned for himself a large following, as evidenced at the wedding, young and old, family members, staff of the company, church members, old students, a good gathering of former girlfriends, all rising in readiness for a dance, to the groom’s Ankwanobi rendition.

He took the microphone, and in accordance, the band rolled with the Ankwanobi tune, starting with its usual fast-paced beats, with the lead guitar sounding its signature mid-tempo G line, while the bassist toned the rhythm along, with a keyboard blend of the two string artists, as the drums grooved itself into the beats.

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Step-by-step, the groom moved into the tune, in waiting for his first vocal entry. Everyone roared as he gave his first line pitch of the song, Ankwanobi eei, ahomatea mefr3 odo a woamba oo…. And as expected, the crowd enveloped him with their gifts of dance and excitement.

After the first line, Ankwanobi eei, the drum rolled its beat signalling the commencement of the body of the song, but the groom missed that second vocal entry, and rather appeared to be slowing down his voice, a worrying indication that he might have forgotten his lines. The guitarist restarted his mid-tempo G line tune, for a repeat of the first line, Ankwanobi eeei, that gave the groom a moment to redeem the song, by starting all over again. This happened for the second, third, and the fourth time.

Now the crowd began to disperse to their seats; they had had enough of Ankwanobi eeei repeating itself over and over again, without offering the main lyrics for them to dance along. And as the crowd returned to their positions, they left the groom alone in his impeccable dress, drenched in shame. The band did a few more repeats of the second half of the song, but the man stood crestfallen, as the crowd attempted to clap for him, in search of a redemption for the shame he had suffered.

Last week the Ghana Journalists Association’s President, Roland Affail Monney, issued a statement cautioning investigative Journalists against engaging in acts that destroy Ghanaian businesses, in an obvious response to the investigative reports carried out by Manasseh Azure Awuni of Joy Fm.

Several civil society groups such as the Media Foundation for West Africa, the Media Center for Social Justice, and Professor Audrey Gadgakpo, condemned the GJA’s statement, with a number of people calling for Affail Monney to resign his position.

On Monday, Paul Adom Otchere of Metro TV held, what I call, a press conference, on his Good Evening Ghana show. His subject was Manasseh Azure Awuni. Paul was obviously in support of the press statement issued by Mr. Roland Affail Monney, the GJA President, and so sought to condemn the investigative report that Manesseh had done.

I am not sure who is the biggest problem at the moment, Paul Adom Otchere, or Roland Affail Monney? A GJA President who attacks Journalists in defence of those whose ‘corrupt’ deeds are destroying the nation, a GJA President who fails to defend Journalists whose tools of work have been seized and destroyed, is that GJA President the problem? Or is Paul the problem? A colleague Journalist who portrayed himself as superior to someone who has made so much more impact, a Journalist whose claim to fame is in the interviewing of ex President Rawlings, and the reading of Aristotle and Plato, is he the problem?

At this moment I am not interested, so much, in the outcome of the work Manesseh has done. My interest is in the way the GJA has inspired Paul Adom Otchere to attack his own colleague, and how the statement seeks to discourage anti-corruption journalism in Ghana. How do you expect a young Journalist to be fired up for ground breaking investigation when the very people who are supposed to be defending him are those who are crucifying him?

We are all happy to promote local businesses. I am a businessman, and I will love to see my businesses grow. Media houses depend largely on product advertising to exist. So we all need the private sector to grow, and to thrive.

But that does not mean we should watch as some greedy entrepreneurs carry their dance to the gods as they reap off of our collective slumber, that we should allow them to spill their filth into us as we celebrate their black market wealth? No way!

There are too many examples, in the past, of bad public private partnership deals that have deprived the nation of resources. There are too many examples of naked extortions in the name of entrepreneurship; inflation of contracts, contracts which are paid for, but the work either half done, or never done, too many examples of paying millions of cedis for guinea fowls which flew into our neighboring countries. These were all done by entrepreneurs who have found themselves in bed with every single elected government in this country, and are taking advantage of irresponsible corrupt public officials to rape the coffers of our nation, and you are there defending them, against those who are exposing them?

I saw two things in common, in the statement issued by GJA, and, the, so called, editorial held by Paul Adom Otchere; they both failed to mention the name, Manasseh Azuri Awuni, although it was clearly targeted at him, and they both appeared to have been pushed by an unseen hands to do a certain corrupt bidding.

The statement from the GJA was unwarranted, needless, and a defeat of Journalism in Ghana. The editorial held by you, Paul, was shameful, and like the groom who sung the Ankwanobi song, that so called editorial was a lonely act of self-destruction, it might have been a pain in your chest, something that should never have come from, a so called, an experienced intellectual Journalist.

Is Manasseh Azuri Awuni not the same person who investigated the infamous GYEEDA Scandal which culminated in the retrieval of millions of cedis from the AGAMS Group? Shouldn’t such efforts give us the hope that there are still genuine Journalists and media entities out there who are desirous of ensuring incidence of corruption and corruption perceptions are fought? How else are you expecting such a Journalist to do his work, other than exposing such evil acts, and shouldn’t the GJA rather defend him?

Paul, I know you, we were Political Science course mates at the University of Ghana, and we both completed the same year, and I know you love quality. But this time round, you made a poor demonstration, and presented yourself as though you were an exuberant immature child Journalist who lacked content; I’m sorry, my brother, I wish I could find an alternative description for what you did.

As I watched you dismantle yourself, I remembered the wedding groom’s sole disgrace. In my view, you were either so unprepared for that editorial or you were forced to present something against your conscience; your chest might have been really heavy. I saw a battle within yourself, I saw a person, not a Journalist, who was forcing to be coherent, and who was faced with the evil of repeating himself, because he saw nothing more to say, or he had forgotten his lines; my brother it was so obvious the fake in your eyes; never should anything influence such a lonely rendition of Ankwanobi eeei in our Journalism.

Unfortunately some people erroneously equate Journalism with low income, except those who get their wheels oiled by powerful influences, there are those who are reported to get paid to create stories, to blackmail personalities, to defend the indefensible, and to destroy, such are those who forgets their Ankwanobi lines; we should all flee from such acts of dishonest renditions.

I am not a poor person, but I know I’m getting poorer. I am not bothered, that I have found myself on a declining income, because I have chosen a path that celebrates truth, which finds itself in the minority. I wish I had not, but for the sake of the grace of the children I am bringing forth, that they may gain the worst of luxury, with the best of pride, it is for their sake I toil, and it is for them I shall remain rich, even as I stay poor.