Every one of us says the scrums are too much or getting too much. What is too much beyond is neither quantifiable nor can be held up physically. The crisis has come about through long years of scrappy feuding between the press and police on one hand, pastors and the press on another, police and the public, students and authorities, plus intra-political parties have put awkward strain on security and a wobbly economy. The uneasy looming gloom suggests that this nation could be holding on only to the ledge of former reputations—unique tolerance and glory. The former is an inheritance– an intrinsic mould from our mores and the latter was gained from independence.
There is disquiet. No one doubts it. A quick rebalancing is a difficult act now, despite necessary with urgency proportion. Daily aggravations make effort to restore global image and domestic equilibrium– plainly an ejection of violence and a sense of achieving calm seem forlorn. I mean what’s next after Cherepon for a futile guess. Worse is that it is hard to draw real chronology of the events. These are briefs in portraiture of the country today. That is one part which perhaps unavoidably presents the ugly. The flip side consists of hopefuls—legislation to ban politically formed thug-groups along with government’s reaction to the “Short Commission’s Report” and how to make the public receptive so- so! to winning d’acord with the police from a perception of “FRIEND”. It is as if the country is waging war on its own peace. I have previously traced the starter and stated why and how its come up to date by default.
The Italian Orator– Cicero left a significantly apt definition on two types of war and indeed any conflict that involves force and prescribed solution in characteristic superb language.He said: “There are two types of military dispute, the one settled by negotiation and the other by force. Since the first is characteristic of human beings and the second of beasts, we must have recourse to the second only if we cannot exploit the first.”
Throughout the last few months, a war on peace has engaged historically incomparable anxieties in the country. I have written severally tracing the roots in this column; and tied the development of the situation to date as logical and inevitable due conclusively to the abnegation of partisan politics. It would not be slightly informative to find one sort or another reason.A younger generation thinks the historical record is void to make much out; and the older present the presence of sparse corpus –some scripted but lost in the museum and others heard, unverified.That emphasises the inaccuracy of the claim of lack of perhaps cogent history on factional physical violence in this country.
You do not have to agree because there are elsewhere explanations to throw up which are the apparent end of reading [education], decline of thought and the stumping of learning lessonsare the much missing to influence “settled by negotiation.” I am addressing this:
There is too much of “etsimnaakam” –disputes, quarrels and fights here today. Not a day passes without any. For instance I was troubled asked early during this working week if a clash of a scuffle kind or another like menaces between Journalists and police/pastors had been as recurrent in the past. My agonised response was that it is a rarity and voluntarily tag-remarked resonating public outcry that “it is getting too much.”Truth is there are no parallels though the press and those institutions have lived through see-saw relationship all the years. Of course both may have dug in their heels for brinkmanship in the past doing acts within their perceived and real ultimate mandates it has been and remains a counter-productive exercise of authorityin respect of the use of aggression—force.
Take the military and or police versus a corps of Reporters breaching or intent to walk an ‘interdict-crossing’ at the Supreme Court hearings of the “Ballot-2016-petition”. Police-press skirmishes since have unabated but thinned out awhile until becoming rampant recently. The whip-the-press-trend acquired a new participant with the entry few years back in the shape of a pastor since doubled officially. What is ominous is the rate in the surge. It gives natural cause for scare invoking reparation. But the how?There are at least two sides to every rift. This simply refers to cause.
I would preface any source with a reminder that the elders say that ‘you advise both the cat and stinking fish.’ Some in the press lack circumspection—it comes from backgrounds needing the vcompulsion of in-house training at the least. Then I should also add an “NB” my cri de couer that press-police stand-off would be at minimum, had not the politics of partisan cantankerousness at less than on the eve, intervened and mischief-scuttled a 1995 NMC mission on a round table aimed at drawing a joint security-press code of honour for operations between them, pursuant to public duty performance.The hierarchies were prepared to sit and talk. It is a most painful story I would detail in another elsewhere. But the purpose of mention is to strengthen the narrative that there had been a desire to pre-empt the present, underlining the importance of an effective work manual.
It is not the NMC which denied itself the opportunity then. Earlier the media had undermined the heft of the NMC by describing it as a “toothless bulldog.”It was apparently GJA-led—partisan politics having infiltrated and misconceived the essence of the Commission as their only constitutional bulwark—deliberatively carved to pivot its insulation and stoutly protect the press et al. The GJA inaugurated a parallel press watch-dog in their own “Disputes settlement” machinery and would not respect the authority of the NMC as statutory, distinct from them being only an association. I am not sure if in the convulsion of politics to lame the Commission both the key players and obviously sinister political handlers foresaw cutting their nose to spite their face futurely as chickens have now come home to roost.
Iam not gleefulabout this; it’s just that the bad story is part of the solution to scout turning around. Quite intriguingly, the same lot would instantly blame the NMC for abandoning the facing the law. Truth which the public must know is that the Commission cannot fund a court suit on its own let alone the press from the becoming-chronic anaemia of virtual state abdication of fiducial responsibility. The history, told not in detail yet here is that it is the result of political tit-for-tat between succeeding governments from 1992.
Each of us worries needfullyabout the Ghanaian Times chaps over hiring Counsel, individually or Corporate, once the NMC cannot define its responsibility in that regard—hire and pay in that regard and indeed from its own as and when shoe-string budget as and when available. This is the state of play. A tricky situation had existed from the ruling of the Supreme Court over where the appointing authority for Chief Executives for public-owned media resides. Politics again ruled out taking greater in-depth look to draw up guide line about the commercial aspect and public asset in the clauses of the constitution to enable workable imprimaturs.
National budgetary difficulties are apparently meandering to resurrect a discredited 2000-on argument in favour of state pull out. Certain weird thinking also appears to linger between return to status before 1992 and selling into private ownership. Either is preposterous. The exits are: revamp the Media Endowment Fund, steer it away from subtle and crude control, deliver regularly the exchequer’s, retool a slim-down NMC and the press empowered to pay subscription to the NMC giving them nominal ownership and makes them more responsive to the diktats of being really independent.Sorting out the membership of the NMC is to correspond appropriately to the dynamics of its raison d’etre presently. At the beginning in 1993 the status of press freedom and independence was different.
The better argument though is that the job was and is always done by not more than six. Thirdly the prior duo obviously turns certain representations in the Commission superfluous today—the presidency, parliament, religion, women and organised labour for examples. Our circumstances dictated inclusions which are neither germane nor properly defines a press “Watch-dog” per international and even democratic norms for its very nature. Savings on stipends would follow and these could be used to top up the Commission’s work effectively such as monitoring which walks Long John Silver, dependent on the benevolence of Donors.
Relative to the country as a whole in this unprecedented whirlpool, I prefer to borrow from former US Secretary of State John Kerry in his book “Every day is extra”in as much he speaks to our dilemma: “My hope is that as you finish reading these pages, you will believe more in the possibilities and less in the hurdles, and that more of you will dare to try more. I will keep using my extra days to do my part—and I see so many others now fighting on the frontlines of our history. Extra days aren’t just a gift for those who served in war; they are a gift for all of us fortunate to be blessed with freedom to stand up and seek the best America [substitute Ghana] and abetter world. Onward.” The wisdom is deep in there but it so amply fits in our context. In another sense it runs parallel with St Paul’s last encouragement in the letter to the Philippians: 4/9—“…Ponder them” or “think on these things.”
I think Secretary Kerry gave the coup de grace, also most profoundly too closely relative to our national crisis in the following conclusive quoting President John Kennedy: “Our problems are man-made—therefore they can be solved by man.” That is what it is after” too much” at the end of the day.
[c] Prof Nana Essilfie-Conduah.