To Telecast Or Not To Telecast

The 2012 Presidential Candidate for the People’s National Convention, Coughmaster Hassan Ayariga is reported to have called for the stoppage of the live telecast of the Supreme Court case because in his view it is adversely impacting productivity in the country.

For a young man who based his campaign upon empowering the youth, that is a curious position to take considering how beneficial the live telecast is to the youth who know relatively little about our legal processes. Mr. Ayariga, and others making similar pronouncements are wrong for the following reasons.

First, Ghanaians who may otherwise have difficulty embracing the eventual Supreme Court ruling on the case due to the mystery associated with the details would now be familiar with the evidence presented. Given that President Mahama’s legitimacy has been called into question, it is vital for citizens to approve the eventual government, and the live telecast is the best way to gain that approval.

Second, the educational value of our court system that this trial offers Ghanaians cannot be overstated. Ghana does not have a Freedom of Information Law so the citizens are mostly left in the dark when it comes to how their government works. With this live telecast of the Supreme Court case, the citizens can view for themselves how the third arm of their government works without any political spin.

Third, rather than blaming low productivity on the live telecast, opponents must look into the lack of accountability that continues to plague our entire system, especially in the public sector. In fact, in the absence of the live telecast, those with the opportunity to watch television at work would still engage in other non-productive activities such as reading the newspapers or chatting on the phone with friends. If supervisors are on top of their game, there should be no issues here.

Fourth, compared to other high profile televised events, the petition challenging the legitimacy of John Mahama’s presidency is the most important. If the Supreme Court returns a ruling upholding the petition as expected, the ramifications would be phenomenally far-reaching. Not only would the ruling discourage future rigging attempts by incumbent candidates in Africa, it would also offer a ray of hope and a viable alternative to other declared losing candidates who currently view violence as their main recourse. Besides, are these opponents of the Supreme Court live telecast in Ghana when the whole nation shuts down to watch the Black Stars play another country, or worse still Chelsea play, say, Barcelona on television?

The time has come for politicians to make pronouncements that favor their country rather than their pockets. The Kwesi Pratts and the Hassan Ayarigas of the world must make sense even when they are spinning issues for their political interest. How can anyone claim to advocate for transparency and be opposed to the live telecast of the most important Supreme Court Case in our country’s history?

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