Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu- Ekuful, according to sources has unilaterally decided to extend one of the nation’s critical voices, Radio Gold’s absence on air.
This is said to be against the decision of the National Communication Authority (NCA) to allow the station resume transmission, following the May 9, 2019 shutdown by heavily armed policemen and state officials.
Insiders have also revealed that, President Akufo-Addo, has refused to be drawn into the matter, because according to him, “it is up to Ursula”.
It is, however, shocking how a man who had preached free speech, tolerance, rule of law and above all employment in opposition, will allow a minister highly connected to him, to be satisfying her ego, instead of respecting the rules and procedures.
Interestingly, Parliament’s Select Committee on Communications led by Ken Agyapong, is also said to have been unhappy with her attitude with the Assin North MP, personally reprimanding her severely, but the powerful Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, is unrepentant in her resolve, even as many workers of the once prominent station are home, jobless and hungry.
Radio Gold, has over the past six months subjected itself to an arbitration process being mediated by Parliament’s Select Committee on Communication.
Over the period, Radio Gold, has met every demand laid down by Ursula Owusu, including withdrawing a notice filed at the Electronic Communications Tribunal and filing a fresh application for a frequency at the NCA.
Perhaps Radio Gold’s decisions, have been informed by the committee’s demonstrated commitment to resolving the issue after the initial meetings.
Kennedy Agyepong, who was chairing the committee at the time ,demonstrated a maturity that left everyone convinced that a mutually agreeable consensus could be struck, but after months of back and forth, the obvious is confronting Radio Gold after Ursula Owusu in a slap on the face move, told members of the Committee, she is not yet ready to change her mind.
Our sources tell us, both the management and board of NCA, have cleared Radio Gold to resume operation, but Ursula Owusu, says “No”.
She is said to be angry at the fact that it took Radio Gold time to withdraw its notice from the Communications Tribunal.
The Ablekuma West MP, is said to have told some persons at the NCA to “forget Radio Gold.”
The most recent public statement of the Communications Minister on the “gunpoint” closure of Radio Gold and Radio XYZ was in response to comments made by former President John Mahama and the Media Foundation for West Africa.
Both seemed to have incurred the anger of the minister, when they alleged that the closure of the stations was politically-motivated.
In response, she claimed an unnamed radio station belonging to First Deputy Speaker, Joe Osei Owusu, had also been closed down.
She also claimed, the matter would have been easily resolved if Radio Gold and XYZ, had just kept quiet and raised money to pay fines initially imposed on them by her ministry for non-renewal of authorization.
Radio Gold was fined GHC61million by the ministry, and Ursula Owusu ,thinks paying the millions was an “easy option”.
Again, at that press conference, Ursula Owusu, repeated her claim that the closures of the Radio stations, were in enforcement of the “decision of the electronic communications tribunal” without ever quoting this decision leaving to wondering exactly what did the tribunal say?
Meanwhile, links are being drawn to establish why she wants to keep the station off air, but our sources tell us she has always harbored a certain dislike for the station for allegedly giving a powerful NDC woman the platform to “insult her”.
She is said to have once told a staff of Radio Gold, she would not speak to Radio Gold, until she is given the opportunity to “insult” the NDC woman too and this will include having the NDC woman sit in the studios whiles she, Ursula Owusu unleashes her insults.
Interestingly, Ursula Owusu, has always insisted that the NCA is enforcing the law, but to hijack a process she says the NDC is remote controlling is mind boggling.
In the meantime, it seems the communications committee may also soon be washing its hands of the matter with two members, Ranking member Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini and a member Samuel George Nartey, both stating that the minister is shifting from her original position and assurances.
Speaking on the matter recently, Samuel George Nartey said on Alhaji and Alhaji current affairs programme, disclosed that the minister has said”she has changed her mind and would not rescind her decision”.
Many are of the view ex-President Mahama, might be right in saying that the Minister is embarking on political vendetta tat underlying the closure could be a personal hatred for the station.
Short of going to beg her and hoping she backs down, Radio Gold now seems be caught in a hard place with its fate now in the hands of a powerful woman who draws her powers from the Presidency.