Press confabs! – By Anny Osabutey

I hate press conferences. I really really hate them. as a journalist, I have never delighted myself in them. They are fertile grounds for chitchatting and yawning about silly things. Especially if you live in a country like mine (mind you I’m Ghanaian and I love my country), then you’ll understand what I mean. It’s a waste of time to attend any press conference in this country. the amount of time one is kept sitting down and patiently or impatiently waiting for a so-called ‘HONOURABLE MINISTER’ is nauseating, to say the least. I have been to a few but never enjoyed them.

There are too many talks with much I do about nothing ending. You often here politicians and their cohorts blab about anything that comes to mind, thinking they are doing their job. I have made a switch back to radio after more than three years of working as a newspaper journalist. I have been to two press conferences and in all of them, I have turned up very early, thinking the programme will start on time.

The tradition in the past had always been about delays. However, I was looking for a completely new culture of attitude especially from ministers who are so much obsessed with honorability titles. My first press conference was at the education ministry and after keeping the journalists waiting for more than an hour, the minister appears and the first thing he said was an excuse as to why he is late to the program. Even before that, his public relations officer had come in with a rather stupid explanation. He was laughing between his saggy teeth, and that got me upset. But I maintained my cool. After all I was not going to go back to my editor, telling him I did not cover the assignment because the minister was either late or his spokesperson offered a rather mundane explanation. So I sat there and covered the program. I even did an interview with the minister at the back of the main program.

Then on Tuesday morning after the editorial meeting, I was assigned another press conference. The ministry of works, housing and water resources is to give an overview of the ministry since 2009 till date. It was half past time, I was told. So I dashed off to a nearby chopbar(call it restaurant) and grabbed a plate of rice and fish. I hurriedly consumed the food thinking I was going to be late if I eat at a snail pace.
I didn’t even wait for the last food to sink when I dashed off like a rabbit, flagged down a cab and jumped into it-I was gone to the ministry. The programme had not started. I had arrived earlier than the scheduled time but my fears were confirmed following another hour long delay. The said 10:30am never happened.

After sitting down for an hour, I started getting upset, went out to pick a phone call from a colleague in the office who wanted to know what was happening. He was shocked when I told him the program had not started. I had barely come off the phone when the minister, Alban Bagbin, walked in followed by other officials from his ministry.
He took his seat to be introduced by John Tia, the information minister. After offering some few remarks he introduced the minister. The first thing I was expecting him to say was to apologise. But he will not. He greeted the journalists and when the response he got appeared to be weak, he asked if ‘you had not eaten.” That was very rude from him. the message I got was that he saw the many journalists as poor and hungry fellows who are not so much interested in the information he was about offering but the financial handouts to be given at the end of the program. He knew some of us-soli collectors, no doubt.

He started off his presentation and after the long talk just shuffling through slides; he ended the statement, took his seat and invited questions. Annoyingly, he decided not to answer one of the questions put to him by a colleague journalist about a housing deal-STX-deeply stashed in controversy. His explanation was that anyone interested in the deal must come over to his office for the answers. What arrogance!

This was a man who was busy criticizing the president just because he had not been given any position in government. But soon as he got it, he went to sleep, insisting it’s a bad habit to be eating and talking at the same time. I guess you catch the drift?

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