A COPY of a secret recording available to the Daily Guide newspaper has exposed the desperation of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to win power at all cost by wooing journalists with cash to pursue the agenda of the Mills-led government.
The audio tape, which was allegedly recorded during a meeting with a selected group of journalists sympathetic to the NDC at Bolgatanga in the Upper East region, purportedly captured Baba Jamal, a deputy Minister of Information, promising the journalists huge sums of money should they dance to the tune of government.
The man, who was allegedly posted to the Information ministry to strengthen the propaganda machinery of the government, was heard on the tape that the government had decided to use funds from the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) to pay those journalists.
The motive is to keep Mills in power beyond 2012 by refusing to publish any articles that could bring down the government ahead of the 2012 polls.
When contacted about the said tape, Baba Jamal admitted to hearing about it but denied having knowledge about the recording and challenged anybody who thought that he had committed any offence to go to court.
The former deputy Eastern Regional Minister, who promised to wage a Jihad on the eve of the Akwatia by-elections, told the beneficiaries that they would be given official appointment letters from NYEP so that bank accounts could be opened for them for the unspecified monthly stipend to be transferred into them.
He noted that the government had decided to use the NYEP as the conduit because they did not want a situation where direct state funds would be used to pay them for the services rendered to the party.
Jamal, who promised a better package for the journalists should they propagate the agenda of the government to enable it to win the 2012 elections, said all that government required from the selected journalists was to kill every story which would not be in the supreme interest of the government.
Against this background, he entreated the journalists at the meeting which was organized by a certain Samuel Abane, the Upper East Regional correspondent of Raymond Archer’s Enquirer, to consult the constituency and regional executives of the party as well as the regional minister before filing any story concerning government.
The speaker, on the almost six-minute tape recording, enjoined the journalists at the meeting to be ready to discard stories that would portray the party in a bad light and rather concentrate on the positive sides.
He implored them to be battle-ready to even overturn disparaging stories about the government and present it in a way that would be palatable to the public so that the government’s chances of retaining power in the forthcoming polls would not become a mirage.
The deputy Information Minister urged the journalists at the meeting not to entertain any fears because the NDC government was not the first government to do that. He even alleged that the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) did same when it was in government.
He mentioned the name of Kweku Baako and alleged that he bought a house for $350,000 because of the package ex-President Kufuor’s administration gave him as one of his favourite journalists for defending the government.
The deputy minister emphasized that, unlike the NPP which allegedly used funds from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) and Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative to fund that deed, they would not do that but would rather use funds from the NYEP.
He warned the beneficiaries to take the conversation as a top secret because, according to him, should the move leak, the government was going to be under fire and that the backlash would be too heavy for the government to bear.
Abane, who allegedly organized the said meeting, told DAILY GUIDE yesterday that indeed Baba Jamal visited the region on an official tour two months ago where he held a press soiree with journalists in the region.
He explained that the meeting was not organized for media persons sympathetic to the NDC alone but all journalists in the region including officials of the Information Services Department (ISD).
Abane, who is a member of the NDC communication team in the region, indicated that issues discussed at the gathering which were held at the residency of the regional minister, were centered on general government issues and not an agenda for propaganda work.
Reacting to the information that he had become one of the recipients of the Hyundai i10 popularly known as ‘Atta Kanboo’, a vehicle being distributed to journalists with NDC at heart and other NDC serial callers across the country, the Enquirer reporter said he acquired the vehicle using ‘due process’.
He explained that he applied through the MASLOC loan facility as any other Ghanaian does in acquiring a vehicle, therefore, people could not impute any meaning to it.
The Hyundai i10 cars are being driven by pro-NDC journalists and serial commentators who are not lucky to be given confiscated 4×4 cars at the Tema Port.
Source: Morgan Owusu, Kumasi/D-Guide
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