After numerous winds and storms, the ocean is sail there – Xi Jinping
The good book teaches us never to fret about what would happen each day and states emphatically that the day has its own unique offer. So it turned out that on Wednesday, November 23, 2018, after a long anxious wait, I was returned to the National Media Commission (NMC) as one of two nominees of the President as bylaw required.
Then two days later. after intrigues and machinations, I was elected chairman of the ninth commission, thanks to the collective wisdom of the majority of the 17 members who were present at the meeting and voted.
One member was outside the country and could thus not vote. The transition was smooth as the new members were sworn in a day after the eighth commission had ended its mandate. The new members were sworn in on behalf of the Chief Justice by Mr Justice Julius Ansah, a justice of the Supreme Court, who charged the commission to look into the area of new media and fake news.
Unfortunately, even before an hour, fake news saturated the atmosphere that I had been elected chair of the commission when the process had not begun. There were twists and turns as some of the old members did everything against my election on the ruse that as a nominee of the President if I was elected chairman of the commission it would compromise its independence and dent its credibility and integrity at the international level.
At some point, it was so crude that had to react and point out the fact that if members saw in me the quality for leadership, it did not matter which constitutive body nominated me since it would be an election and not an appointment.
Indeed, my argument was that if the media acted with professionalism and responsibility, there would be no cause to fear. More important the work of the commission was directed more at facilitating and sanitising the work of journalists against other members of the society. It is mainly journalists and the media on one side, against the rest on the other.
Therefore, the nominee of the President could not in any way impair or compromise the integrity and independence of the commission. Those groups of people who could undermine the effectiveness of the commission are media owners and practitioners.
After all, the freedom and independence of the media are guaranteed outside the mandate of the commission. Thus any member who attempts to mortgage the interests of the commission fur any partisan cause would be building castles in the air.
However, I grew livid when I received this message from the immediate past chairman to the effect that “I wish you will see my viewpoint and not set the NMC on the slippery slope and, therefore, while I wish you well, l must caution the members, not against you, but against the idea you personify,” to which I shot back and said what he was doing amounted to discrimination which is proscribed by the constitution, while also indicating that “I will not change from my position to contest, but cherish the cordial relationship, warmth and comradeship you display towards me anytime we meet.”
At the end of the day, members demonstrated their independence and objectivity by electing me as chair.
So what do I offer? I offer commitment to the highest professional and journalistic standards.
I am hoping, with the support and cooperation of members to reach out to all journalists and media practitioners, including bloggers, to at all times be responsible in their quest to feed our people with information and provide knowledge and awareness.
I am committed to the pursuit of reforms of the commission, but with priority on the strengthening of the secretariat with qualitative and quantitatively adequate professional staff to prosecute the agenda.
There is the need for the secretariat staff to have competition remuneration packages. Even as I soliloquised over developments, I received a text message that rekindled my spirit and encouraged me not to think about the election from a former director of the Bank of Ghana Training School, Kwesi Buabeng, who knew that when I served as Secretary President and Editor-in-Chief of the Junior Common Room of Commonwealth Hall, University of Ghana, stating “Congratulations Ayebee. You more than deserve to be chairman of the NMC after such a long and very meritorious service to the media and Ghana.
“When I told my father in law’s daughter about your elected position, she said you are the type of people we need in the helm of affairs in Ghana. People who are honest and speak the truth.”
With such a compliment, I need to ensure that the interests and concerns of the NMC are not mortgaged to give meaning and function to the trust and confidence reposed in me President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and prove to those who opposed my election because of who nominated me, that I have a mind of my own and know what free, responsible and independent Media have for national development and democracy.