Ursula Owusu- Ekuful has decided to permanently block the return of Radio Gold, the radical freeform radio station that was abruptly taken off air six months ago by National Communication Authority (NCA) without notice after two decades of broadcasting.
The Communication minister may have just pulled off the biggest scam in the history of this country.
The minister according to sources has unilaterally decided t o extend one of the nation’s critical voices, radio gold’s absence off air.
The station which has been off air since May 9, 2019 has been trying to reason with a woman and a government which has long underlined its hatred for the station it blamed for its electoral loss in 2008.
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 can be struck.
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 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 political.
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.
Don’t forget that Radio Gold was fined GHC61million by the ministry. Ursula Owusu thinks paying millions of cedis is an “easy option”.
At that press conference too, 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.
The question remains, 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.
Ursula Owusu has always insisted the NCA is enforcing the law but to hijack a process she says the NDC is independently conducting is mind boggling.
Sources further tell us that President Akufo-Addo has refused to be drawn into the matter because according to him, “it is up to Ursula”.
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 woman with no love lost for the station.
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.
Samuel George Nartey said it much clearly on Alhaji and Alhaji when he said, the minister said, “she has changed her mind and would not rescind her decision”.
In closing Radio Gold in the way she has done, Ursula Owusu and President Akufo-Addo have borrowed a leaf from the book of the late Robert Mugabe.
A move that earned Zimbabwe an unenviable mention in the 2011 report of freedom House as one of the nations using regulation to suppress critical media.
In refusing to intervene in the matter, President Akufo-Addo has shown that he has no belief in his principle that radio stations should not be licensed to operate.
In fact, he may have even shown that he believes such a license should be subject to arbitrary withdrawal anytime the state pleases.
In the interim, a radio station which have since 1996 impacted and shaped the broadcasting industry remains closed because the government says it has not renewed its authorization, a nice word for license.