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A former Director of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Prof. Kwame Karikari, has recounted the immense stress workers of GBC suffered during the Rawlings regime because of the threat of coup attempts.
Recalling one such coup attempt in 1983 on Citi TV’s Footprints in an interview with the Host, Samuel Attah-Mensah, Prof. Karikari noted that “at the time, medical reports indicated the GBC had the highest number of heart conditions.”
“All of which were because, since 1966, and this was the same staff, there had been coup d’etats and soldiers were at the gates all the time and when you were coming at 4:00 am or 5:00 am or whatever hour, the soldiers were grilling you, so the soldiers were on tenterhooks all the time.”
The GBC, along with the Burma camp barracks, were considered the main assets of interest by revolting soldiers, hence the robust security, Prof. Karikari explained.
“There were soldiers all the time at GBC. It was almost one of the barracks. There was a company which always guarded GBC and there were sandbags all over with guns trained on the streets and people who were coming in.”
During that coup attempt, he said workers of GBC had to stay on the company’s premises after a directive from then-Head of State Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings to “stay put.”
“I stayed in that one office without washing, with very little food from the staff canteen for 48 hours. Most of the staff on duty had to stay there, and they were still working.”
Prof. Karikari served as the Director-General of the GBC from 1982 to 1984.
He has also served as Executive Director of the Media Foundation of West Africa and has been a professor in journalism and mass communication at the School of Communication Studies at the University of Ghana.