The Minister of Information, Mr Mustapha Abdul–Hamid, has stated that the Information Services Department (ISD) remains the strongest link between the government and citizens of the country, for which reason the ISD must be maintained.
He said the contribution of the ISD to enhancing the country’s democracy and development, as well as preservation of its rich history, was indisputable.
“That is why even before I assumed office, I was certain that the department ought to be revived and given a face lift to make it efficient for it to deliver effectively on its mandate,” the minister stated.
The minister made the assertion when he addressed the management and staff of the ISD at a retreat in Accra last Saturday.
He said one of the tenets of a healthy democracy was an all-inclusive system of governance which could only be possible when many Ghanaians were adequately informed and understood governance processes and policies.
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The two-day retreat was organised by the ISD on the theme: “Carving a new image for the ISD.”
It brought together information officers from all over the country.
They deliberated with the sector minister on the successes, challenges, welfare and grievances of staff and the way forward for the department.
Mr Abdul-Hamid refuted the assertion that the department had become irrelevant owing to the proliferation of FM stations and communication machineries of political parties in the country.
He said Ghana had not attained a 100 per cent coverage of its radio frequency modulation (FM) target and therefore, the ISD remained relevant insofar as disseminating government information was concerned.
He added that, as a neutral entity the ISD had acquired credibility and authenticity over the years and was positioned to communicate government policies in a way that was authentic and readily acceptable than FM stations.
In relation to cinema vans belonging to the ISD, he differed with a school of thought that argued against their continued use.
“There are many communities that do not have access to radio and so for such people the green and yellow vans are the only authentic voice of the government so it will be unfair to deny such people their constitutional right to information,” the minister emphasised.
According to him, “the department still has exclusive possession of some archival material of the country’s rich history such as books, pictures and journals, thus making it a good research centre, albeit most were getting rotten away.”
“When I assumed office, I was told that the film section of the cinema unit had been shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because the negatives, together with reels of archival material, had been left to rot and the stench emanating from the section had become hazardous to human health.
“In collaboration with the management of the ISD, I have engaged a German Scholar who has agreed to come and help salvage the rotten films as part of preserving the country’s history,” he added.
Mr Abdul-Hamid told staff of the department to remain united competed and professional to effectively promote governance and national development.
He assured them that, there would be no room for political victimisation, unwarranted transfers and termination of appointments at the department.
The acting Director of the ISD, Ms Elisabeth Efua Essel, said the department had for some time now been relegated to the background and excluded from all activities of government, thus making the once vibrant department a pale shadow of itself.
“It is therefore, gratifying to note that the current administration is ready to resource and retool the department to enable it live up to its mandate,” she said.
The acting director said the decision by the government to give the ISD a boost was evident in the numerous public education campaigns the department was assigned, including the 2017 and 2018 budget awareness, ‘Stop Galamsey’ campaigns, the Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) tax awareness sensitisation programme and the coverage of town hall meetings in the country.
She was optimistic that, the logistical challenges of the ISD would be gradually tackled for it to regain its lost glory.