Director of Operations for the political pressure group, the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), has dismissed assertions by some social commentators that President John Evans Atta Mills’ interaction with the media dubbed “Action Year” Editors Forum held at the Castle, Osu, last week, is unique and unparalleled.
Mr. Awuku maintains there is no substance in that claim; pointing out that such a forum did take place under the erstwhile Kufuor’s administration.
Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr., had earlier strongly asserted during on a political discussion platform on Radio Gold that President Mills’ media encounter was exceptional and unprecedented in the annals of the country’s democratic history and even issued a challenge to anyone to dare prove him wrong.
According to him, the erstwhile Kufuor-led NPP government was intolerable of dissenting views so much so that they (NPP) could go to the extent of using inferior tactics and politics of lies just to discredit perceived anti-NPP newspapers.
It would be recalled that President Mills, on Friday, January 7th, 2010, held his second encounter with Senior Editors and Media Owners at the seat of government. The interaction offered an opportunity for journalists to critical assess the President on his performance in the last two years of his administration and the way forward.
But contributing to a panel discussion on Peace FM’s Kokrokoo morning show, the AFAG lieutenant stressed that it was ex-President Kufuor who first began such interactions with the media, and President Mills is carrying on with it after the sudden realisation that it offered a good platform to assess his administration.
“I have heard many commentators especially people sympathetic to the NDC (Kwesi Pratt) saying that it is unprecedented; it is not true, unprecedented means something that has never happened but this has happened before. It happened during president Kufuor’s era and it was a major departure from the 19 years that former President Rawlings ruled Ghana when there was a barrier between government and the media,” he noted.
Sammy Awuku debunked claims that all media houses were invited, since according to him, some perceived anti-government newspaper Editors were side-lined. To him, though journalists present did ask the right questions, he wondered why no-one inquired about the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).
“It is not true that all media houses were invited, I can tell for a fact that the Searchlight newspaper was not invited…I also disagree with people who say that media did not ask the right questions. I think journalists asked the right questions with the exception of one issue I didn’t hear anybody ask; the Single Spine Salary Structure. I don’t know if anybody asked about that,” he added.
He, however, lauded President Mills for continuing with the Editor’s Forum.