An independent non-partisan civic movement, Friends of Democracy (FOD) – Ghana, has called on owners, managers and editors of the Daily Guide newspaper to put a stop to the continuous publication of malicious stories and outright falsehoods orchestrated in an attempt to dent the reputation of the Speaker of Parliament, Alban SK Bagbin.
In a press conference addressed by convener of the group, Nurideen Abubakari Kotia, popularly called Alhaji Bitis, the group contends that, the recent publications about the Speaker’s travel cost to the United Arab Emirates for medical care, mostly carried on the front page of the Daily Guide, are nothing but absolute lies which are intended to portray Alban Bagbin as a wasteful public servant who is not concerned about the hardship citizens are going through.
Alhaji Bitis noted that, while the ill-intended publications by the Paper cannot destroy the globally recognized good reputation of the venerable Alban Bagbin, they have the tendency of smearing the growing democracy Ghana is nurturing, hence the need to be worried. He therefore urged the Daily Guide and its management to imbibe the ethics of journalism if they want to revive their “failing brand” instead of launching unprovoked scathing attacks on innocent Ghanaians like the Rt. Hon Speaker which could affect Ghana’s democracy.
Examples of headlines to some of the stories listed by the group include “Bagbin snubs deputies, appoints NDC man as Speaker”, “Bagbin Blows 1.1 million dollars in Dubai”, “Bagbin requests for 50K from Dubai” and “Bagbin snubs deputies again”. They described these stories as not only lame and unintelligent, but also very insensitive as the health of the Speaker is being toyed with by the Paper just to please their “paymasters”.
The group explained that, as leader of one of the arms of government established by democracy, Parliament cannot be absolved from attacks on the Rt. Hon Speaker. Hence, it is their belief that, such continuous “lies” churned out by the Daily Guide is more of a hate-campaign against the growth of democracy.
These “negative stories carried by the Daily Guide newspaper are without facts and only serve to further a certain misguided hate-campaign against the Speaker of Parliament and our democracy” the group said.
The FOD – Ghana also expressed surprise that regulatory bodies such as the National Media Commission and the Ghana Journalist Association are silent over such publications even when it is “abundantly clear that they are malicious, deceptive, lame and do not meet the journalistic standards”. They thus called on them speak up against the unprofessional conduct of the Paper to help protect the rule of law.
The unapologetic nature of the Paper according to the group, leaves much to be desired. Alhaji Bitis questioned the adamance of the pro-NPP newspaper, which they believe is doing the bidding of the Akufo-Addo led government, in continuing to tow that line after the Public Affairs Directorate of Parliament has denied the wild allegations and urged them to stop same. He also wondered why the Paper’s concentration has been on the medical trips of the Speaker only when other public officers including members of the executive are sponsored by the State to seek medical attention outside the country.
The group advised the government to move away from the tactics of using the media to wage a war against the Speaker and trying to denigrate his character, and rather concentrate on how to build consensus in the House so as to facilitate the execution of government business. They reminded government actors who are behind these vile mischievous media attacks that, Mr. Bagbin is resolute and cannot be cowed or silenced from performing his duties to protect the ordinary Ghanaian. And that the earlier they “deal with the inadequacies of their leaders in Parliament” the better for them to get their business going.
The Friends of Democracy – Ghana further vowed to resist any cynicism borne out of “hatred, disrespect and sour-grapes” against Speaker Bagbin by the Freddie Blay owned Daily Guide paper and the government of Akufo-Addo. They further called on all well-meaning Ghanaians to stand up against such reports and treat the already published ones with the contempt they deserve.