Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Govt. won’t gag media - Veep

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John Dramani Mahama is the Vice President of Ghana

By William Yaw Owusu

Wednesday August 4, 2010
The first-ever Ghanaian Times National Development Forum has commenced in Accra with a pledge by Vice President John Dramani Mahama that government is not interested in ‘muscling’ the media.

The two-day event is being organized by the state-owned New Times Corporation (NTC), publishers of the Ghanaian Times, Weekly Spectator and Sporting Times under the theme, “Re-orientation for accelerated development.”

Expected to be an annual event, the forum is seeking to lead a national discourse and debate using experts selected from the academia, business community, religious organizations, among others to find solutions to the numerous developmental challenges facing the country.

Opening the forum in Accra yesterday, Information Minister, John Tia Akologu, who read a speech on behalf of the Mr. Mahama, said the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has demonstrated that it is “open to new and fruitful ideas.”

He said Mills administration welcomes ‘constructive criticisms,’ stating that the withdrawal of the STX Housing deal in Parliament was a testimony of the government’s resolve to listen to everybody.

“We are not always right but when we are wrong we do not pretend to be gods. We are not interested in seeing journalists in jail. In the recent police/Joy FM and Ghanaian Times debacle we have no hand in it.”

Mr. Tia Akologu, in a speech, said the NDC administration believes that there can never be democracy without a vibrant media, adding “whenever government officials get richer in any country it means that the press had gone to sleep or were facing serious restrictions.”
He bemoaned the high level of indiscipline in the country and called on the media to intensify the crusade against indiscipline.

“We need a national orientation to get our priorities right. We need to change our attitude towards national development.”

Kabral Blay-Amihere, Chairman of National Media Commission (NMC), who chaired the forum said, “It is reassuring that the government is not interested in stifling press freedom. It is a signal to state agencies and operatives that the government does not want to muscle the press. This assurance should guide the enthusiasm and their actions.”

He commended the New Times Corporation for the initiative, indicating that “a culture of dialogue and discourse is what we need for the nation to develop.”

David Newton, Board Chairman of NTC and Rector of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), stressed the need for the media to continue to highlight issues that hinder economic growth and development of the country, saying that “constant interchange of ideas on important national issues is what the NTC is seeking to lead".

Kofi Asuman, Managing Director of NTC, in his welcome address, said his outfit would continue to chart a path that would accelerate the development of the country.

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