I hate news conferences especially the ones organized by Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the state. I hate the ones organized by the two main political parties even more. The NDC/NPP forums and the Meet Press are an absolute waste of time. The speakers are usually the most boring, the content absolutely useless and some journalists ask really stupid questions.
However, it is the silly season here and my colleagues and I have had the unpleasant duty of listening to quite a number of Ministers at the ‘Meet the Press’ series organized by the Ministry of Information.
The ‘Meet the Press’ is a medium where government officials share policies and plans for the country with journalists. It is supposed to be weekly, which means there is no need for the dozens of pages read out by the Ministers. It is also supposed to cover short term plans and major policy changes at said Ministries; this means award schemes should not make the list. This isn’t so!
Ridiculous promises are never in short supply at these conferences. Take Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Moses Asaga who announced an artisan and craftsmanship award scheme as a major vision for the Ministry. In his plan, the Ministry will run a competition for artisans at the Suame Magazine in Kumasi to get them to produce a car which will be called Suame 1.
This employment Ministry has no data on unemployment levels in the country and has a dysfunctional welfare section. You’d expect the Minister to be telling members of the Unemployed Graduates Association how the Ministry plans to address their problems. Or tell journalists that children living in state homes are no longer abused as Anas caught on camera.
Competition isn’t such a bad idea but is that the best way to get the artisans to produce vehicles?
Mr Asaga is not the only one who spent time on what my colleagues’ term ‘political talk.’ In the last three weeks, we have had the Minister for Defence, Lt. Gen. Smith who spent twenty minutes introducing his generals yet denied journalists the opportunity to speak to them. Then there was the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development Mr Ofosu Ampofo who spent the time praising the NDC’s success at his Ministry.
So far I’m yet to hear big policy change announcements at any of these news conferences. The situation is even worse with those forums organized by the NDC and NPP. The contents are full of statistics- journalists have no means of cross-checking. Speakers always make allegations and in some cases refuse to provide proof or give names. They are so condescending, makes you wonder if they care about Ghana at all.
So after many hours of tortuous listening, I’d like to ask the organizers to stop, just stop inviting the media to these things. We know you need to spread your messages to Ghanaians but do not send that invitation until you have a clear, coherent and short message.
The best way to make an impact for those in government is by actually working to transform the lives of Ghanaians. Once you do, you won’t need to three hours to make a point. As for the NDC and NPP, it has not escaped our notice that you will say anything to win our votes.