The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, in his usual fashion, minced no words when he engaged media personnel on their role in the development of the country over the weekend.
He also tasked the leadership of the country to do more in order to alleviate the suffering of the masses.
Taking the centre stage at the 19 th Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Awards ceremony in Accra on Saturday, the Asantehene said excellence, truth, and independence of the media was the surest way of ensuring that Ghana would move forward in her development agenda.
He said although the press did not derive its mandate from the people, the foundation of its authority was no less profound, as it was encapsulated in the moral foundation of the sanctity of truth.
For the Asantehene, the truth was the foundation of journalism, adding that should it be sacrificed, it would not only destroy the potency of journalism, ‘but I suggest to you that you will crucify the media profession and endanger the society.’
He also noted that striving for accountability should not lead to vilification as it was with some media organisations. He however called for the accountability role of the media to be executed with facts and not comments.
‘It is a desirable exercise to hold people to account for their actions and their judgment, however that should be based upon facts,’ the Asantehene said.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu urged President John Mahama to implement policies that would inure to the benefit of the people, and tap the expertise of those who could help take Ghana out of its present challenges.
‘Surely, this country has an accumulated body of experts who have handled the economy from the First to the Fourth Republic, participated in the toughest negotiations with the international financial community and seen us through the peaks and troughs of the economy and we also have men and women in business, banking and finance whose insight the country can benefit from. Make the most of the available expertise and the country will be better off,’ he told President Mahama.
He explained that the fact that Ghana might have gone through harsher periods previously should not be an excuse to inflict more pain on the people.
‘The fact that we may have been through a similar or even worse experience before can be no comfort,’ he said adding, ‘What matters is to fix the problem.
‘The tendency to tinker with problems by a process of shifting cultivation does not inspire confidence. The solutions, I have to say, lie in the bosom of one man and only he can provide the answers. So I say unto the President of the Republic in the seminal words of the Methodist hymn: Master speak, thy servant heareth,’ he stressed.
‘And let’s hope we will not have to wait too long for a response,’ he emphasised.
The Asantehene said development was not about infrastructure, but about products of policies pursued by government.
He said provision of education, food, healthcare, and jobs for the people were the true results of sustainable development.
He also observed that one could not talk about development without mentioning the country’s currency, adding that the Cedi was wobbling.
The Asantehene said the fall of the Cedi was so crucial to the stability of the economy that it needed to be moved from partisan politics to an issue of higher national interest.
He thus called for the establishment of the right institutional framework for protecting the Cedi in the market place.
The Asantehene, who has supported over 9000 students from primary through to tertiary institutions, bemoaned the politics which was being played with the country’s educational system.
He said the disorder in the educational system was having an effect on students, citing the recent results of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) as unacceptable.
‘It is having an adverse effect and the victims are our children,’ he said.
The Asantehene, while sympathising with countries in the West African region that were grappling with the Ebola virus, noted that the country was facing a bigger challenge of cholera, which had come about because of the failure of people to observe the normal simple rules of hygiene.
He said the issue of sanitation should be tackled on all fronts to ensure that as the country grows it would improve on its sanitation.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II said it was time for health officials to put on their thinking caps and make the issue of sanitation one of national concern.
‘I suggest the need for a national emergency on the issue to bring together local health authority, education and traditional rulers to find practical ways of keeping our nation from the horrid hazard brought by insanitary condition,’ he noted.
The Ashanti king bemoaned the level of corruption in the country and said everybody knew that it was from the President to the lay Ghanaian.
He however noted that it was a well-known phenomenon which was becoming worse, to the extent that the international world was concerned Ghana might be heading to a stage of irredeemable corruption.
He thus called for the need to tackle corruption from all angles, to curtail the diminishing international confidence in the country.
President John Dramani Mahama, in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, applauded the media and the award winners who had distinguished themselves, for their efforts in ensuring social cohesion in the country.
He encouraged the media to take the next step and strive for excellence through engaging in more investigative reporting and development communication.
Mr Mahama however cautioned against the use of social media to send false information that could cause panic in the country.
Citing the recent Ebola scare, created by an unknown person on one of the social media platforms, Mr Mahama called for decorum in the use of such platform.
Dr Affail Monney, the GJA President, pledged the association’s support to government in its development efforts and offered a helping hand in the fight against the recent cholera outbreak in the Greater Accra Region.
The GJA Awards ceremony this year witnessed journalists who excelled in their work being honoured.
Journalists from media houses including DAILY GUIDE, Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, GTV, Joy FM, Citi FM, TV Africa picked awards in various categories, with Graphic’s Mabel Aku Bannaseh controversially being adjudged the overall journalist of the year for her reports on politics and in the courts.
A journalist from TV Africa, Stephen Nartey, had four awards, but was ignored in favour of the Graphic reporter for the coveted prize.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri
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