General News of Monday, 30 January 2017
Gender Minister-designate Otiko Afisa Djaba has urged Ghanaians to set an example in speech as a way of sanitising the airwaves.
She made the comment in response to a question posed by former Deputy Education minister Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, one of the young appointees under the former National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
He wanted to know how Otiko Djaba would serve as a role model to children in using temperate language.
In a statement filled with innuendos, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) National Women’s Organiser during her vetting by Parliament’s Appointment Committee Monday said “babies with sharp teeth” should be a thing of the past.
The description would trigger memories of former President J.J. Rawlings who first used it to describe some young politicians in the NDC skilled in denigrating comments and hurling invectives.
Although the former President did not mention names of persons who fit this category, many have linked the young ministers under the Mills government to this description.
When her attention was drawn by the Tamale South Member of Parliament (MP) Haruna Iddrisu that the Appointment Committee is a respectable one for which reason she has a “duty and a standing of duty to show utmost respect to the elected members of the Committee of Parliament.”
He there asked that she withdraws the use of the phrase “babies with sharp teeth” which he deemed offensive, but Madam Djaba only wanted to know “who have I offended?”
When the Chairman of the Committee, Joseph Osei-Owusu, pressed her, whom she is referring to with the description, she retorted “I didn’t describe anyone but we should expunge that from our body politic.”
The Chairman further appealed that since someone is known to have used that description to refer to some people in the past, which has stuck with people, “if you won’t mind you can choose another expression so that you would reach the same target.”
To this, she replied, “it is important that as we build the nation it is important that we use language that is not insulting, but use temperate language that would help us unite and build the country.”
She called on all politicians to be mindful of how they communication as it would impact on children growing up.
The nominee’s own choice of words came under scrutiny during her vetting as she has once described former President John Mahama as a “wicked” man and the “devil’s heart”.
But Madam Djaba insisted these words are descriptions of the former president’s governance style and do not amount to an insult.
She said she described Mr Mahama as wicked because he dissipated an opportunity to improve the lives of the people in the regions of the north.
His flagship agency for development of these regions, Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA), was gutted in a scandal in which a reported GHC200 million was embezzled.
Madam Djaba said her strong criticisms of the president was rooted in her convictions that the President who hails from the Northern region was a big disappointment. She refused to apologise.