Mr Rockson Ayine Bukari, the Upper East Regional Minister on Thursday said the quality of debates on radio and television stations need to be scrutinised and facilitated to derive maximum benefit for the listening and viewing public.
He observed that the quality of some issues discussed on these airwaves was worrying to serious and decent minded citizens, and noted that it was incumbent on Journalists, especially radio and television talk show hosts to control their guests and serial callers when they use unacceptable or abusive language on others.
Mr Bukari was speaking at a press soiree in Bolgatanga organised by the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) which attracted Municipal and District Chief Executives, and Heads of Departments.
It offered the media the opportunity to quiz duty bearers on diverse issues pertaining to development in the Region. Mr Bukari said “not everyone has the opportunity or time to contribute to radio discussions or call to refute allegations levelled against him or her,” and added that the liberalisation of the media landscape was meant to enhance the democratic credentials of the country.
He indicated that the media liberalisation was nevertheless intended to be used to malign decent citizens who had gained their reputation through years of toil.The Minister said even though remunerations to journalists from some media houses were not the best, it was not an excuse for journalists to exhibit mediocrity in the discharge of their duties, and urged them to endeavour to cross check their facts to avert publishing falsehoods.
He observed that the various cities, towns and villages in the region were engulfed in filth which had resulted in wide spread of some preventable diseases like malaria, typhoid, cholera among others, and called on the media to join hands with government to spread the message of good sanitation practices.
Mr Bukari charged the media to impress on their behavioural change agent role to educate the masses on attitudinal change towards sanitation and the felling of trees, especially rosewood, the prevention of bush fires, illegal mining on farm lands and the destruction of water bodies and forests to guarantee sustainable development in the Region.
Asked what government was doing to revamp the defunct factories in the region, notably the Pwalugu Tomato Factory, the Bolgatanga Meat Factory and the Bolgatanga Rice Mills among others, the Minister said various interventions were underway to revamp them, and added that “the rehabilitation works on the Tono and Vea Irrigation Dams will soon be completed to meet the economic needs of our people.”
Mr Bukari disclosed that there was a discovery of some underground water at Kadare in the Bongo District which was projected to last for about 200 years, and tasked the media to investigate more into the discovery because the Region needed sustainable water supply for both domestic and industrial purposes.
Mr Eric Kwadjo Amoh, Chairman of the Upper East Region branch of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) said media personnel were partners in development, and indicated that no nation could develop without the media.
He said “we are proud to say we are one of the best press that nobody can beat, we are number one in Africa enjoying press freedom, and that is a big opportunity for us." Mr Amoh said the media as a watchdog provided security and direction to duty bearers on areas that needed critical attention and criticised when necessary, to bring peace and development to the Region and the nation.
He thanked the Regional Minister and the RCC for the opportunity given to the media in the region to interact with duty bearers to promote the development agenda of the Region. The Paramount Chief of the Talensi Traditional Area, Tongo-Rana, Kubilsong Nalebegtang, who chaired the function called on Journalists to investigate their facts to ensure that the region benefitted positively from their works.
He reminded Journalists working in the region to be circumspect in their reportage and present balanced reports devoid of arrogance, and pride and accept criticisms of their work. The Tongo-Rana called on Chief Executive Officers of the various Assemblies in the region to take issues of agriculture seriously, as it was an area that was being patronised by majority of the people in the region.