Accra, Ghana (PANA) – A nationwide power outage last Wednesday night, the suspension of Kofi Adams, an aide of former President Jerry Rawlings, from the ruling National Democratic Party, hullabaloo over government’s “boycott” for some radio stations because of “bias” against it were some of the stories that were played up in the Ghanaian media this week.
The power outage, the fourth in a series this year, has enraged consumers who have persistently expressed dissatisfaction with services of the state-owned power producing and distribution companies.
Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), the company that distributes power produced by the Volta River Authority (VRA) to the Electricity Company of Ghana which supplies power to consumers, blamed the outage on overload following a fault in the Ivorian system, with which Ghana has an inter-connectivity.
The outages are coming at a sensitive time in Ghana where elections are due in December and politicians capitalise on the unreliability of provision of utilities such as water and electricity in their campaign messages.
“Nationwide blackouts: Government calls for probe,” was the headline of the lead story in Ghana’s biggest selling newspaper, the state-owned “Daily Graphic” on Friday.
It said Energy minister Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei had ordered the three electricity providers to set up a technical committee to investigate the circumstances that had led to a string of nationwide blackouts in recent times.
VRA, ECG and GRIDCo are to provide a report in 24 hours and outline strategies to forestall future nationwide blackouts.
The minister said Wednesday’s blackout was “certainly worrisome” and therefore necessitated an independent enquiry.
The suspension of Rawlings’ aide from the party comes as the gap between President John Evans Atta Mills and the leadership ruling National Democratic Congress on the one hand and the former president and his wife on the other appears to be growing wider.
Political commentators have said this could hurt the party in December’s elections as the former president has huge following, although some of his pronouncements are highly controversial.
So bad are these relations that Rawlings’ wife, Nana Konadu, challenged President Mills for the ticket of the party. Although Rawlings wife garnered less that four percent of the vote at the party’s convention, the former first family has been smarting under the defeat and Rawlings has vowed not to campaign for Mills, his former vice president and chosen heir in 2000.
“NDC suspends Kofi Adams” was the headline of the Graphic which said the National Executive Council (NEC) of the NDC had slapped a three-month suspension on a Deputy General Secretary of the party, Mr Kofi Adams, over allegations that he was working against President Mills’ second term bid.
It said the decision was taken at a crunch NEC meeting in Accra to deliberate on an alleged tape recording of a conversation between Mr Adams and a leading member of the opposition New Patriotic party (NPP), Gabby Okyere Darko, in which Mr. Adams allegedly vowed to ensure that President Mills was not elected for his second term.
The paper said the NEC had also referred his conduct to the Disciplinary Committee of the party for further investigations. Mr Adams has denied ever having such a conversation with Mr. Darko.
The government touched raw nerves this week when it announced it was boycotting all media houses belonging to the Multi Media Broadcasting Group because of “bias” against the government.
A Deputy Information Minister, James Agyenim Boateng, said among other considerations, the media group had not been fair to the ruling NDC.
The boycott affected seven media houses- Joy FM, Adom FM, Luv FM, Nhyira FM, Asempa FM, myjoyonline.com and Multi TV.
“Treat multimedia journalists as gate crushers – Govt” was the headline of the website of an Accra-based radio station, Citifm.
It said Mr. Agyenim-Boateng had asked all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Government not to entertain any reporter of the Multimedia Group Limited, adding that any journalist of the group who dared to attend a state function would be regarded as a “gate-crasher”.
He said the “entire government machinery” had been instructed not to give them hearings due to their bias towards the opposition NPP.
“Govt boycotts Joyfm,” was the headline of the pro-opposition Daily Guide, which said the Government had officially announced that it had indefinitely boycotted all programmes on Joy FM, Adom FM, Luv FM Asempa FM, Nhyira FM, Myjoyonline.com and Multi TV among other affiliates.
It said it had written to all Metropolitan and Municipal Authorities, Districts, Departments and Agencies ordering them not to grant any audience to any multimedia network.
Government in a statement released a tall list of incidents on various platforms of the multi media broadcasting that, it said, showed bias against it.
The Graphic carried the story under the headline “Multimedia Must Deal With Boycott – Baffour”.
It said the Minister of Information, Mr. Fritz Baffour, said the onus lay on the Multimedia Group Limited (MGL) to do all it could to deal with the government’s decision to boycott all programmes run by media houses operating under the group.
“It was with reluctance that the decision was taken, but it is necessary to ensure that sanity prevails,” he said.
The NDC, given the fact that it was born from Rawlings’ Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), formed after Rawlings’ coup in December 1981, is perceived as anti-media.
Various NGOs and governance institutions condemned the government’s decision.
Following talks brokered by the Ghana Journalists Association and the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association, the government lifted the ban on Friday.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 24March2012