Speaker of Parliament Aaron Michael Oquaye has urged journalists in Ghana to help the nation develop politics based on principles as it prepares for general elections this year and thereafter.
He identified lack of knowledge as a cause of conflict in elections and called for thorough knowledge of laws of elections and applying them with professionalism to ward off election miscreants.
“If you practice your work with professionalism, you’ll be able to keep your charge,” Speaker Oquaye, said in Accra, at the Parliament House where he delivered the keynote address of the maiden (2019) Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC) Parliamentary Reporting Awards.
The theme of the event was: “The Parliamentary Reporter as an Effective Tool in Promoting Peaceful Democratic Elections.”
The Speaker said the press constitute a very important institution in the development of democracy, particularly in an election year.
“Wrong information during elections have caused civil wars”, the Speaker observed, and urged journalists to get the legislation on elections, read and digest them to inform their opinions.
Speaker Oquaye urged the journalists covering the activities of the Legislature to be interested in all its activities and be equipped with knowledge on all relevant subjects and issues to ensure an informed, fair, balanced and accurate reportage.
“Parliament is a House of the people. Since all the people cannot come to the House and you are here to tell the people what happens here, you must be interested in all that happen here. How do you do that?
“When you have knowledge, and you know the rules of the game and you convey the messages effectively. That is how you become the bastion of democracy in Ghana,” Speaker Oquaye said.
He said meetings of Committees of Parliament would soon be open to the media, adding that specialization, with thematic approach to subjects would bring out higher quality in their work.
“Get yourself ready for the next step. It’s important that you study to show yourself ready approved of your calling,” Speaker Oquaye, who is also Christian cleric, stressed.
He advised electronic media to invite professionals and experts to their programmes, guided by hosts who really know what would be discussed and can pull the teasers and question factually incorrect information.
Referring to Second Deputy Speaker Alban Bagbin and Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah- Bonsu, for their relatively longer stay in Parliament, the Speaker stressed the building of institutional memory and expertise of MPs and decried the use of the name “Mugabe” to tag and discourage longevity in serving as a legislator
“Merely being a parliamentarian for long time is no sin,” the Speaker said.
Mr A B A Fuseini, Ranking Member on the Committee of Communications and MP for Sagnarigu, representing Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, said the effective function of the media is sina qua non to the success of democracy.
He said the media have played an indispensable role since birth of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, but they have been fraught with inadequate basic tools, and poor conditions of service.
Mr Fuseini said not notwithstanding the challenges, the media should be circumspect and unbiased with information.
Nana Agyeman Birirkorang, Dean of the PPC said the Executive intended the awards ceremony to be an annual event, and the theme for this year’s celebration was chosen because of the high stakes the media has in the forthcoming elections.
He announced that the PPC would soon launch an Education Fund with seed money of GH¢20,000 to assist members pursuing education at various levels, and noted that Speaker Oquaye had pledged GH¢5,000 into the fund.
Mr Eugene Davies, a journalist of the Business and Financial Times was adjudged the Best PPC Reporter for 2019. He took away a 50 inches ’’ colour led TV, a piece of cloth, a tablet and a plaque; with a GH¢5,000 promise by Speaker Oquaye.
Other winners were Mr Thomas Fosu Junior of the Daily Guide, for Best Report on Plenary (Chamber) Sittings; Mr Benjamin Mensah of Ghana News Agency (GNA) for Best Report on Appointments Committee Sittings; and Mr Julius Yao Petetsi of the Ghanaian Times for Best Report on Public Accounts Committee Sittings. Each of them was given a 32’’ led colour television, a piece of cloth and a plaque.
Mr Anthony Koomson of The Punch newspaper and Mr Duke Mensah Opoku were recognized for their participation in the contest.
Citations were read in honour of Second Deputy Speaker Alban Bagbin for his long service to Parliament and invaluable assistance to the corps; and Mr Andrew Edwin Arthur, Dean of the West Africa Parliamentary Press Corps and former Dean of the PPC for his contribution to cause of the PPC
Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, MP for Ellembele Constituency, was adjudged the Most Media Friendly MP on the Minority Caucus; and Mr Alexander Afenyo-Markin MP for Effutu Constituency as the Most Media Friendly MP on the Majority Caucus.