Astute investigative journalist Manasseh Azure has entreated media practitioners in Ghana not to flinch in their duty to unearth corrupt acts of government officials, business individuals and entities.
Delivering a speech at Baah-Wiredu memorial lecture to celebrate the memory of Ghana’s former Finance Minister the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Manasseh Azure bemoaned the deadening media reports on corruption in the country.
According to him, the media which is to clamp down on corruption has lessened its interest and focus.
Albeit he believes journalists aren't living up to expectations, he however gave them the benefit of the doubt as he made mention of some factors impeding the work of media practitioners like himself.
He cited political and media owners' suppression of reports on corruption coupled with intense hatred from colleague journalists when the right ones decide to do their job effectively.
He also blamed the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) which is supposed to serve the interest of journalists but unfortunately does direct opposite of their mandate, thus defending those guilty of corruption against the journalists who decide to nip it in the bud.
''At the onset of the Fourth Republic, journalists were more aggressive with their new-found freedom and the fight against corruption and human rights abuses was a cherished virtue...In the last ten years; however, the number of media houses committed to the fight against corruption in Ghana has dwindled.
''I am mindful of the important and consistent anti-corruption investigations conducted by Tiger Eye Private investigations. However, the emphasis is on media organisations that initiate such stories. If you ask me how the media has performed in the fight against corruption in the Fourth Republic, I will say it is below average. Out of ten, I will award three marks for the effort of the media. It is getting worse by the day and critical journalism is dying. Ask any Ghanaian to name the investigative journalists we have in this country and they will not count beyond the fingers on one hand.''
He added that ''the corruption that is sinking our society has not spared the media. The actions of some journalists and media houses encourage acts of corruption. In some cases, individual journalists who cannot resist the temptation look the other way while the rot continues. At times, the problem is the media owners who refuse to publish the corruption stories. In 2013, we lost one of the finest journalists in Ghana’s Fourth Republic, Samuel Agyemang of Metro TV. Samuel did a good investigative work on Subah Infosolutions but was stopped from airing it on Metro TV, where he worked. He had to publish it on YouTube and resigned afterward. He later recounted what he went through on Facebook''.
''Any journalist who wants to fight corruption in Ghana would soon realise that their fiercest opponents are their fellow journalists, who for one reason or the other would fight on the side of the those stealing from the state. In 2017, I published an investigative series titled “Robbing the Assemblies” in which I revealed fraudulent sanitation contracts that had robbed the nation and the assemblies hundreds of millions of cedis. It was this investigation that revealed that a bin liners contract that was supposed to cost 900,000 cedis less than one million cedis was awarded to the Jospong Group for more than 64 million cedis.
''This investigation resulted in the cancellation of a 74 million-dollar contract. However, not many in the media were enthused that I had gone back to the Zoomlion stable after first visiting it in the 2013 GYEEDA Scandal. The Ghana Journalists Association to which I belonged issued a statement against that investigative work, saying I should not destroy a Ghanaian business. The most disturbing part of it was that the GJA did not state a single ethical breach in that investigation'', he stated.
He decried the many interferences that have adulterated the work of the journalists but emphasized there should be no excuse to expose corrupt people.
The multi-awarded investigative journalist charged journalists not to allow the impediments stop them from fighing corruption.
''...the media must not give up. Journalists fighting corruption cannot give up because institutions of state have generally failed to do their work and it will be disastrous if the media sleep on their hallowed constitutional mandate. I believe the media remains our main hope in the fight against corruption. State institutions that are mandated to fight corruption have generally failed us'', he stressed.
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