Deputy Information Minister Mohammed Baba Jamal has vehemently denied an audio recording attributed to him, saying the voice was computer-generated.
Jamal, who had a tough time defending himself, sometimes with inconsistencies, threatened legal action against all media houses that have linked him to the potentially scandalous recording.
On the said recording, a copy of which is in the possession of DAILY GUIDE, the person whose voice is or sounds like that of the Deputy Minister’s was heard telling some selected journalists at a ‘secret’ meeting in Bolgatanga in the Upper East region, of government’s decision to engage their services, with a promise of paying monthly.
But barely 24 hours after details of the alleged audio recording started emerging, Babal Jamal denied the story on many radio stations.
He claimed he was shocked such a thing was coming out at this time since three weeks ago, the National Security had information indicating that some people had brought a computer into the country which could easily manipulate voices.
However, Baba Jamal said he never thought he would be the first to suffer from the machinations of the computer and its importers.
Later on Citi Fm in the evening, Jamal said he had the information, “two, three, four days ago”, that some people wanted to tarnish his image because he was gaining credibility as a deputy Minister of Information.
If details of the meeting are anything to go by, it appears the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has devised a new strategy, after the infamous ‘Dogbegate’ scandal in which Presidential Aide Stan Dogbe claimed to have bribed some journalists with Christmas hampers to the tune of GH¢169, 000 (¢1.69billion) to woo them to help them to win the 2012 elections.
Though the exact location of the meeting was not clear, it appeared it was held in a cosy environment where birds were heard chirping in the background while the voice was overheard saying, “The main reason why we are giving you this thing is so that you all support the party in 2012 elections. You could remember that in 2008, NPP did the same thing for the likes of Kweku Baako and other people.”
Whilst he gladly admitted the fact that most of these journalists were not being paid well by their employers, the voice said the best way to reward journalists was to put them on government payroll since “this is an opportunity for all of us. You know in 2008, many media men were enjoying in Accra. The NPP supported them so they supported them during the elections”.
Indications are that the journalists who were carefully selected, have been surreptitiously enrolled as interns under the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), a scheme introduced by the previous Kufuor-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to train and offer job opportunities to most of the country’s unemployed youth.
They have since been issued with appointment letters which took effect from June 1, 2011 and expected to end on June 1, 2013. The voice said, “Today, we are taking all the appointment letters and give (sic) you your accounts…so that when it comes, you go to the bank to pick them.”
“The main reason we are doing this is for you people to support us,” the voice said, whilst asking the journalists to keep it confidential.
If what the voice was overhead saying was anything to go by, then it meant that the monies that would be paid to these journalists are not only intended to enable them to help the government win the 2012 elections but to also help kill news stories that would not favour government since in the words of the Deputy Minister, “if you have any story, bad, you consult the Regional executives (of the NDC) before you file the story”.
Obviously aware of the fact that the deal was not well-intentioned and the consequences to government could be dire if any information about the meeting got to the public, the journalists were told, “this is very confidential because if it goes out, it is going to affect the ruling party a lot and it’s going to affect you as an individual. You cannot miss also accepting it. So if you know you are not capable…”
The journalists were also promised bigger and better packages if they were able to execute the project as planned. “If you can support us in the 2012 elections, we will come back in 2013 with bigger packages. So the main reason for this thing is for you people to support us. If you have a story, you can consult the regional minister before so that when we come back, we can give you bigger packages because you people we can trust you’ve done good (sic) for the publicity given to the regional minister.”
Source Daily Guide Ghana