I have always held the view that if there would be election related conflict in Ghana, the media will be the greatest cause. I have observed that the Ghanaian media is persistently antagonistic and biased against the Electoral Commission. But I left room for some doubt.
However, the happenings of December 1, 2016 have confirmed by suspicion. That was the day of the Special Voting exercise by the EC to allow personnel of the security agencies, the media and EC staff to vote ahead of election day. That day, journalists turned themselves into political activists and political commentators on radio. They questioned the Electoral process without really bothering to educate themselves first on the process.
They provided platform to politicians wearing police uniforms to attack the EC, and some even threatened not to work on election day. The media deliberately incited the public against the Commission based purely on misinformation and half-truths.
Even when the EC issued a statement calling for calm and assuring the affected persons that an appropriate opportunity would be created for them to vote, some of these journalists questioned the contents of that press release. They even went to the ridiculous extent of suggesting that the EC would not be able to create another Special Voting opportunity because the security personnel were beginning their deployment the very next day.
I wondered if they had assumed the role of the IGP. But the most surprising of all is that a parliamentary reporter for one of the leading media houses suggested on live radio that the EC is in breach of the Electoral law (C.I.94) regarding the period within which it was to give the voters register to the political parties.
This journalist suggested to his listeners that the EC was required by the law to give the register to the political parties not less than 121 days before the election. That was a blatant lie. C.I. 94 said the register should be given not less than 21days to the election. And yes, he did not come back to correct it oooo. For him, that was the truth. Another example was the suggestion by Attik Mohammed of PNC that the EC cannot create another opportunity for the Special voters to vote because C.I.94 provided that the special voting cannot happen within 7 days to the election. That was anyone lie. But the ignorant journalists fed fat on this lie trying to create the grounds for chaos.
The truth is that C.I.94 provided that special voting must take place not more than 7 days to the election. When the EC issued a second statement after a meeting with the political parties and explained that the confusion was caused by the security agencies and people who decided to use the Special Voting as an opportunity to illegally transfer their votes, the journalists did not give it the same level of premium they gave to the noise earlier. May be the truth had embarrassed them. So they decided to go quiet. Do you want more evidence? None of those journalists making the loud noise about confusion and questioning the readiness of the EC to run a troublefree election even bothered to find out how many people actually voted at the end of the day. I assume that was not important for them.
The truth is that 72% of the Special Voters actually voted on December 1. Never in our history as a country have we recorded 100% turnout in any election. 72% turnout is by all standards very high. But yes, our journalists are not interested, because the figures have exposed their wicked lies. Let me give you another evidence. The EC has been a victim of the most sustained attacks by the political opposition with the help of their collaborators in the media aimed at discrediting it. Hard as they tried, the evidence is to the contrary.
They were shocked when a nationwide NCCE survey in July 2016 reported a significant public confidence in the EC. It received the minutest media coverage ever for an election related story. Then another pre-election survey by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) in August 2016 confirmed the findings of the NCCE survey showing that majority of Ghanaians trust and have confidence in the EC. The biased media chose to rather report on the minority who thought otherwise.
Yet another pre-election survey by the CDD in October 2016 produced even more impressive results showing a 15% more increase in public confidence in the EC over the previous figure. We are talking more than 80% of Ghanaians. But guess what? Our biased media chose to ignore that and rather report on the 50% of Ghanaians who fear that the political parties will cause election violence.
They barely reported on the increased public confidence in the EC. What manner of media is this? Oh as for Chairman General’s outbursts about the GHS10 media accreditation card, I prefer not to deal with it.
This is based on my respect for an elder brother. GHS10 ooooo. Just 10 Ghana. Hahahahahaha.
In a country where majority depend on hearsay fuelled by what they hear on radio, I would have thought that our media would be more responsible and measured and focused on education than the misinformation and the ignorance they are spreading. Let me just remind my colleagues and friends in the media that there is no electoral system without faults or challenges. We have come a long way as a country. Whether we like it or not, the elections will pass on December 7 with very minor problems.
A winner will be declared and there will be many losers too. The biased media is free to once again chose to make mountains out of the possible pockets of minore delays in arrival of election staff in a few polling stations. They can make the loudest and ugliest noise possible about those few instances. But the elections will go on and all voters in all 28,992 polling stations will have the full 10hours to exercise their franchise.
Not less. Just as you expect the EC to be fair and unbiased, your listeners and viewers like me also expect you to be unbiased in your reportage and commentary. Don’t force your ignorance and selective one-sides opinions on us. It is an insult to our intelligence. By all means criticise the EC, but it must be based on truth and facts, not ignorance and deep-seated bias against the institution or personalities within the institution.
If you do that, there is no difference between you and the politicians whose interests you seem to be promoting.
By Bridget Otoo