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The Jonah sermon: ‘And Rawlings dark days of muscled media & speech returns...’

And so the Jonah returned from the “belly of the whale” with an inspired critique of the Ghanaian socio-economic and political systems, which deeds, are as a direct result of inherent flaws in our 1992 Constitution.

This is not the first time Sam Jonah is speaking of such ills in our society. As if by design, his maiden address of also a Rotary gathering, was in the 90’s, when he took on the almighty Rawlings’ and his PNDC military junta.

He states in his recent epistles how that critique nearly landed him in trouble. In-between, Uncle Jonah, has shown same bravery on other platforms when given the opportunity to share his thoughts on the Ghanaian situation.

After such a prolonged hibernation, Sir Jonah returns with another explosive prognosis of the Ghanaian state, which has gained national attention for the entire week.

Some have jokingly teased his speech as the “Return of the Jonah”, alluding to how God ensured that the biblical Jonah was swallowed by a whale and delivered at God’s own destination to preach the gospel.

Sam Jonah might not be swallowed by the whale; but his long silence of absence was a bother to many who knew of his unbiased perspectives on national issues. He did surface and Jonah’s speech at the celebration of another Rotary Club event is being likened to the biblical Jonah sermon to the gentiles.

This is because Jonah’s “sermon” is simply the truth and a proper reflection of happenings in our country; but it’s rather sad to recount, how partisanship is causing many to turn a blind eye to. The self-styled Senior Citizen speaks and his wisdom is setting the entire country into thinking of a paradigm shift. The setting for his sermon too was apt.

It was to another batch of Rotary Club members, a grouping of many intellectuals and well-to-dos who perhaps, appreciate deep thinking to just parochial partisan sensationalism.

The Sam Jonah persona and track record on such occasions was key in his selection as the keynote speaker. The tone of the former CEO of Anglo-gold Ashanti was simply a call for a conscious revolution that demands critical thinking than brute force of arms.

Big Uncle Sam did not disappoint either. His speech sounded like the needed spark to a dormant volcano; waiting to erupt at the least provocation. The Sam Jonah volcano-like inferno has engulfed the entire country with people giving interpretations of their own.

To the more critical thinker, the Sam Jonah sermon was nothing close to partisanship. It’s simply a prognosis of how successive Ghanaian governments and their leaders have superintendent over such systemic failures. In the opinion of Sam Jonah, such failures are more pronounced in Ghana’s failed economy that is not recording any positive growth.

Closely linked to that is the perennial deliberate shutting out of indigenous Ghanaian businesses at the expense of foreign owned industries. This is one phenomenon that the country has experienced after change of governments, starting from the overthrow of Nkrumah in the first Republic to date.

But what makes the recent closure of some Ghanaian businesses under the guise of Financial Sector reforms more chilling, is the fact that the affected banks and other financial institutions were the pillars of the Ghanaian economy.

The untouched foreign banks and other related businesses rather cause deep inflation in the Ghanaian economy. This is because these companies cause capital flight at the end of every fiscal year.

Capital flight simply means foreign companies taking billions of their liquid cash profits and other proceeds, convert them into foreign currencies, and send them to their countries of origin.

These foreign companies do not create only deep economic depression on their adopted investment countries; but also deny these countries of growth in wealth. Sam Jonah spoke the mind of many when he also took on our governance structure and how the 1992 constitution has created a monstrous Executive headed by the President.

The President of the Republic is much more powerful than that of the US President, another top Ghanaian businessman, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, has been saying all these years.

And if you consider the fact that the US is arguably the most powerful country on earth, then one can imagine how the Ghanaian constitution is modelled to be a source of democratic tyranny.

The President weakens Parliament after being permitted by the constitution to pick two-thirds of his appointees from the legislature; he appoints judges at the judges to the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of judicature. He also appoints MMDCEs. MDCEs, DECEs, CEOs of public institutions and also the hierarchy of the state security apparatus.

These include the Armed Forces, the Police Force, Customs Excise & Preventive Service, the Ghana Immigration Service, the Bureau of National Investigations, the National Security and other state investigative bodies like CHRAJ, EOCO etc. These were some of the issues that Sir Jonah mused about in hi Rotary address.

The return of Rawlings’ muscled free-speech & the anger of the NPP

What the NPP is crying over in the Sam Jonah sermon is the allusion that there is the subtle intrusion of culture of silence into our current dispensation. It’s one observation that has set many NPP folks against Sam Jonah.

To the extent that they are even trying to twist former President Kufuor’s comments that for the statement to have come from a statesman like Sam Jonah, there will be the need to find out from Mr. Jonah, what might have informed such conclusions.

Some are misinterpreting Kufuor’s comment as daring Sam Jonah to prove his observation that there is culture of silence under the current dispensation. That is however, a far-off from what was really the import of Jonah’s assessment.

Even some in the academia are rubbishing Sam Jonah’s point of view, with political science lecturer, Prof. Ransford Bampoe stating emphatically that nothing of the sort can be comparable to the media freedom, we currently enjoy.

Gabby Otchere Darko, the President’s cousin, also tweeted that Sam Jonah’s assessment of the media landscape is nothing near to government’s stoical determination of braving the obvious lies often propagated about the government. And when that is done, critics allude to the muscling of the media by the administration.

But all those defending the government are wrong in their assessment. Of course none would like to be compared to the Rawlings’ era culture of silence where brutal force was used to clamp down on press freedom. That was the law at the time.

None will be happy to be compared to the culture of silence era where there 1000s of extra-judicial killings. But will people put away their political prejudices and ultra-partisan positions and for once, analyse Sam Jonah’s position rather dispassionately?   

Sam Jonah explained his position. According to him, because most of the media houses are owned by politicians, the media adopt partisan posture slanted towards the political persuasion of their employees.

It does become accusations and counter accusations among the mouthpieces of the politicians and how to adopt populists approach in an election year to sway the minds of many vulnerable Ghanaians.

When that happens to core mandate of the media is sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. Period!

Otherwise, he doesn’t understand that journalists have been brutally assaulted, some even killed, yet the media does not find it a necessity to investigate these murderous acts. He thus went rhetorical “what happened to investigative journalism, what happened to the reportage of facts?

Are these NPP people oblivious of the fact that Jonah also picked up issues with the academia, where enlightened lectures have let go of academic freedom of expression where like, PAV Ansah and Prof Albert Adu Boahene stood up and became the vanguards of free press.

He even challenged those lecturers who have been consumed in partisanship to be awake from their docility and slumber and revise the foremost freedom torchbearer newspaper-the Legon Observer, that became the mouthpiece of many voiceless Ghanaians.

Indeed, culture of silence is back. But this time it’s a deliberate self-induced one, where because of partisan politics, media houses pretend not to see; not to talk or write about issues like killing in the name of elections. 

Content created and supplied by: RKeelson (via Opera News )

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