Last Thursday, as I alighted from the Citi FM branded car in front of the NPP headquarters, I had only one goal in mind – to get the work done.
Visibly furious NPP members from the Elembelle Constituency in the Western Region, had journeyed for about six hours to the National Headquarters, to register their displeasure concerning their polling station register. I arrived on the scene around 9:20 am; and they had been there since 5:00am that fateful day.
Their initial plan was to petition the national executives and then talk to the media. But four hours later when no executive had showed up to give them a listening ear; they were ever willing to speak to the media. And for every journalist, there’s no greater pleasure than a subject willing to speak – the work must be done.
It turns out the security personnel at the NPP headquarters were displeased with the protesters’ willingness to speak to the media, and the media’s readiness to do due diligence. The well-built macho men resorted to attacking us.
I was standing next to a reporter from TV3, who had his camera out, while I had my smartphone out capturing the moment. The aggrieved protesters were our focus, but instead, there were six fuming macho men in our shot.
The threats to attack us and the actual attack happened simultaneously. The TV3 reporter was served a slap, thrown down and kicked mercilessly. The Ghanaweb journalist was not spared either. My braids were being pulled and my spectacles slapped off my face. The protesting Elembelle constituents rushed to our rescue and they received their share of the assault – there was chaos.
By the time there was some semblance of calm, any gadget or object that could facilitate us getting the work done had been seized.
The macho men had one goal – to incapacitate the media. And they succeeded.
During and after the pandemonium, only one question echoed in my brain. Was our effort to get our job done criminal?
In response, my brain reversed to a statement made 11 months earlier by President Akufo-Addo. This is what he said: “I ask you to be citizens; citizens, not spectators.” These words are a fragment of President Akufo-Addo’s over 25 minutes inaugural speech on January 7, 2017, and they resounded across the nation. The controversies regardless, that was the crux of his speech.
On that day, the President placed a demand on the citizenry. And the following statement highlights the exacts of his demand. That we should be…responsible citizens building our communities and our nation. Let us work until the work is done.”
And having identified my role in the community, on December 21, 2017, I started my day having in mind to work “until the work is done.” And I’m positive the other journalists had same in mind.
This message was for the teacher, janitor, CEO, farmer, doctor, carpenter, JOURNALIST and every other right-thinking or well-meaning Ghanaian, emphasizing enough that it will take our concerted effort to complete the bigger picture.
I write ‘JOURNALIST’ in caps not because I seek to unfairly glorify the profession above others, even though we are the Fourth Estate of the realm so-called; a position that bestows on us the power to make or break; a very critical role that earns us foes and friends across the social class, relatively more foes from elites and the political class.
Eleven months into the Akufo-Addo administration, and it seems the demand for us “… to be citizens; citizens, not spectators …responsible citizens building our community and our nation; Let us work until the work is done” was to every Ghanaian besides the NPP and their entitled youth.
So, in our refusal “to be spectators,” cameras, phones, recorders and notepads surfaced to capture the events as they unfolded. In doing our job, we were being “responsible citizens” as our loyalty lies with the people.
The demeanour and actions of the macho security men portrayed a sense of security and surety – that they will go unpunished. This further inflated their already pumped up muscles as they charged at us [journalists] with an offensive aura. They completely trampled on our rights as human beings and as media persons.
If things had gone further sour, my family and the family of the other victims would have been grieving during this festive season.
And to add insult to injury, when the incident was reported to the NPP’s Deputy General Secretary, Sam Payne, upon his arrival at the scene, he retorted that, “no one asked him [the reporter] to come and film” and walked away. His response might have been to only one journalist, but by extension, it goes for the other journalists present.
My immediate thoughts after Mr. Payne’s remarks were that media persons are not guaranteed the protection of any kind in executing their duties, especially when it’s unfavourable to the “high and mighty.”
It’s been a week after the unfortunate incident, and the governing party is yet to comment or show any indication of addressing the issue to ensure there isn’t a repetition. Perhaps, Mr. Payne’s comments when he was presented with the matter, were only a representation of the entire NPP’s disposition.
From where I sit, on this matter and several others like this, the NPP is very much SPECTATING!