Getting Government Communications Right

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(originally scripted on March 21 thereabout )

I get the impression the President is a very tolerable man who gives his children and work men a pretty long rope to trudge on. Either that, or he is so overwhelmed with work that he’s chosen to leave the increasing penchant of Mahama Ayariga to cause niggling embarrassment to not just himself but the Presidency and Ghana, especially.

True, there are too many important matters that require attention from the President. Listing them will give me a headache so I shall not. If you are reading this and you don’t know you may choose to get on any GH website and read their news from yesterday to the start of the Mahama Presidency. If it is too much work then you are probably lazier than the Information and Media Relations Minister whose wahala are caused by his failure to pick up the phone and place a call to verify stuff that he might have been ignored in its execution.

The thing is, right from 2009 when the NDC came to power again they have had issues with their communications. Truthful members of the party, and some from the Communications Team, will admit to this privately, but deny the assertion with all their might in public. The situation has not changed much. Yes, the President is a trained PR practitioner but we know he has been too busy to train his communications team and the people he has entrusted the job to are making a mockery and a mess of it.

We should all care because whatever elements in the NDC do has the potential of been seen as government; not the government of the NDC. But the Government of Ghana. Regardless of which party one supported ahead of 2012, I think we owe it as a duty onto ourselves as Ghanaians to see our governments succeed. We should learn when to put aside party politics and when to focus on Ghana.

I respect Mahama Ayariga. In fact, I like him. He’s a very reasonable person to deal with. I interviewed him a few times when I did radio and he was a nice person. My colleagues say he still is. However he is getting too many fundamental rudiments of his job wrong. He did say he was taking full responsibility because issues of government communications ends with him and all. But is that really the case?

We have so far had at least 4 highly placed people speaking on key important issues for government and I frankly cannot tell which of them is highest in rank. Raymond Atuguba is the Executive Secretary to the President and he issues key statements to the media (Turkey, gold brouhaha and ministerial lists), John Jinapor is the President’s Spokesperson and he speaks on loads of issues not necessarily those coming from the President alone. Then there is party Secretary Asiedu Nketiah who hinted that MCEs and DCEs may be posted in a similar was as the reshuffle regional Ministers. Then of course there is Ayariga.

As has been highlighted in the last couple of days, information flow from government is so disjointed and they (members of government) end up confusing and embarrassing themselves.

Just as I was typing this Elvis Afriyie Ankrah comes in to muddy further the waters that had been muddied earlier….due to the lack of efficient communication (again if you don’t know about the Jerusalem brouhaha, read about it). The question that came to me (apart from the struggle in understanding why pastors must go to Jerusalem) was, ‘what has Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, FULL Minister for Youth and Sports, got to do with organising excursions?’. Yes, I reckon that as part of his JD as a Minister there probably will be a phrase like ‘any other duties as directed by the President’. Coming on the heels of the frivolous press release and interviews he has granted, don’t be suprised to find this coming up as to why he is the one ‘coordinating’ the excursion.

Really, is there no other Minister whose jobs comes closest to religion? If there is none, was this not a great opportunity for one of the Ministers of State at the Presidency to do some work?

Elvis types a press release with anger strewn all over it. It is apparently obvious he sought to respond to the Daily Guide. But really, has the government at any point in time told Ghanaians about this excursion? If the Daily Guide had not reported it, would he have come out to tell us how much it cost and the role of government in all of it? In any case, who really does he seek to convince with that story that ‘philanthropists’ are funding the trip. Last time I heard a philanthropist organise a free trip for Ghanaians with government’s blessing we ended up doling out to him GHC51 Million. His name is Woyome.

To Harvard-trained  Mahama Ayariga,  you are not in control of government’s communications. On paper you may be, on the ground, you are not. Get on top of your job. Right now, you are not. You are the boss, so be the boss. You don’t need to grant interviews if you have not obtained all the facts. Massa, granting interviews to the media is not by force. If you don’t know, find out and stop putting yourself and the President and his government in all this mess. Again, you should let your colleague ministers know that it is your job to do media work, not theirs.

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