Last week at 9:11 am on the CBS, I made the following statement, apparently confirming to several NDC officials and supporters that I’m an NPP sympathizer and supporter:
“This is not the time for NPP big men to be moving from radio station to radio station….we don’t want them to implode.” Like many colleagues in my profession, I am consistently accused of working for one of our two main political parties, depending on whichever party happens to be in power. NDC officials spend much time texting and emailing my bosses about my perceived NPP bias.
A few months ago I was even told by a Minister of State that my picture was being passed around on some platforms with the caption ‘the NPP girl on the Citi Breakfast Show.’ Everything I do and say on the show is sadly viewed through this limited lens. To be clear, I am not a member of the NPP. I will assume we all understand enough English to note that I said, ‘we don’t want them to implode,’ where any literate NPP supporter might have said, ‘we don’t want to implode.’Which ‘them’ was I referring to? English aside, however, these accusations are irritating and disheartening in equal measure.
They are irritating because they are just so cliché. Journalism does not involve singing to whichever tune you are paid to sing to. Rather, our job comes with the huge responsibility of keeping the people informed by scrutinizing and (where necessary) criticizing the words and actions of whoever is in power. An informed people can then make informed political decisions: like who to keep or kick out at the next election (and why). Every single electoral cycle, government officials accuse journalists like me of being members of the opposition until their incompetence loses them the vote, and then – guess what? – the new government (previously in opposition) soon starts making the same accusation.
It suggests a very dangerous siege mentality that comes with government: you’re either with us or against us.
This is sad as it leaves no room for collaboration and consensus amongst the growing number of progressive, patriotic Ghanaians on either side of the political divide… or on neither side of the divide. Because – yes – there is life beyond the NDC-NPP binary, including the growing number of Ghanaians who are floating voters, third-party voters, or who (sadly) opt out of the political process altogether because they see no real difference between any of the parties.
These accusations are also disheartening because they are deeply, deeply undemocratic. A political system without a strong opposition party is not really a democracy. Democracies function when you have a government kept in check by an effective opposition.
As such, it is in all our interests for the main opposition party not to implode, and it is my duty as a journalist paid to give commentary, perspective and to critique the work of people in the political space, to push our largest opposition party if it is not working as it should, which – frankly – it isn’t.
When I say ‘we’ or ‘our,’ I am not referring to the NPP: I am referring to we the people of Ghana; the ‘y3n’ in ‘y3n ara asaase ni’. I am pro-people, pro-progress and pro-Ghana.
Our government and all our opposition parties should have enough imagination and patriotism to be so too. In fact, we all should. It is utterly unacceptable for anyone to label me (or anyone else, for that matter) as NPP simply because my views do not favour the government.
That chapter in our political development needs to be firmly closed: we are bigger than that. As citizens, we should all want a country that works for not just for us but for everyone else. And we should all want a country where the opposition parties do their best to keep the government in check.
Not a government who cannot take criticism without reducing it to the playground simplicity of ‘us vs. them.’ Or an opposition so ineffective and divided that journalists and other active citizens have to do their job for them.