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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Politicians, media blamed for nation’s woes

Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle
Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle
Leading members of the Catholic and Presbyterian churches in Ghana have taken politicians and the media to task for the spectre of a polarised nation.

The strong reaction was apparently provoked by the recent Akwatia by-election and the recent Agbogbloshie violence.

While castigating the media for dwelling too much on bad news and too little on good news, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, the Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, condemned politicians for inflammatory statements and for fomenting divisiveness for their own political agenda.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic on Wednesday, Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle reminded media practitioners that the world needed good news and not the old acrimony, be it tribal, political or religious.

"I will plead with the media to talk about differences and not tell Ghanaians that the nation is divided into two and pit one against the other. The media must give our children; youth and Ghanaians a better future," he said.

Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle, who is the Vice-President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference, said he was personally convinced that what was happening was a seeming polarisation of the nation.

"Seeming polarisation because I want to blame the media for exacerbating the differences as if all Ghanaians are polarised. Having political differences or holding different political opinions is no indication of polarisation," he said.

He said when he listened to some of the discussions and debates on the electronic media or read some articles in the print media, "I am tempted to say that the media is not wielding that double-edged sword of informing and transforming, which is the power of the word, constructively".

The Catholic Archbishop also cautioned politicians, both past and present, not to indulge in inflammatory statements or foment divisiveness for their own political agenda.

According to him, democracy was a painstaking exercise, which must take into consideration the rule of law and the opinions of different stakeholders in the development of the country.

"If democracy is the rule of the people, by the people and for the people, then the people should be able to have a say without entering into conflict," he said.

Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle, therefore, appealed to Ghanaians to learn from the sad experience of Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Niger and elsewhere so that "we do not go the same way".

He said the only way not to tread that path "is by respecting the laws of the country and supporting the rule of law and not the rule of might, and by patiently allowing whoever we have voted into power to govern this country with the lawful machinery of governance that has been put in place".

He said since Ghanaians were very religious, everyone needed to pray for "God to temper all hotheads with the balm of divine patience for the good of this country".

Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle said Ghana had received a lot of commendation after the 2008 elections and the transition from the NPP to the NDC and, therefore, urged Ghanaians to stay focused on its democratic path.

"Ghana has become a beacon of hope for Africa in democratic maturation and governance. Let us keep that positive flame burning," he stated.

He said the clergy's promotion of national unity and patriotism based on the common brotherhood as fellow Ghanaians would achieve greater effect since people from all the political persuasions and ethnic backgrounds were in the churches and mosques.

"We, as religious leaders, have been in touch with the various groups of leaders in our country and we will do everything within our human possibilities, supported by prayer, to guide this country along the path of peace and of peaceful co-existence amongst all our fellow Ghanaians," he said.

In a related development, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, in a pastoral letter, noted its apprehension for "the penchant for political parties, politicians, the media and serial callers to politicise every issue", which, it said, was a drawback to national development.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its ninth General Assembly at Abetifi, the Presbyterian Church expressed concern about the politicisation of every issue by political parties, politicians and the media.

It also expressed concern about the high level of sensationalism and unprofessionalism in the media and called on the Ghana Journalists Association to be in partnership with the owners of media houses, media training institutions, and the National Media Commission to help correct the trend.

The communiqué also expressed concern about the "Sakawa" and the drug menace among the youth, as well as the security situation in the country with particular reference to the recent Agbogbloshie incident, which, it said, threatened the peace and stability of the nation.

It further expressed concern about the reported attacks and closures of some government offices in some parts of the country and appealed to the President, Prof. J.E.A. Mills, to initiate steps and appropriate action to nip the situation in the bud.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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