Digging Into Nii Arday Clegg Yes, Some Say I am Too Known, But I Dont Mind

Nii Arday Clegg

Nii Arday Clegg



Lawyer Robert Nii Arday Clegg, a Managing Partner at Clegg and Everett, was plunged into the media by accident but has excelled in it and currently hosts ‘Morning Starr’, the morning show of Starr 103.5 FM.

NEWS-ONE caught up with him for an interview in which he made some alarmingly interesting comments on several subjects ranging from the challenges of contemporary media practice in Ghana, Creative Arts, and religion to academia, law, history, his wife and children and his late dad, Sam Clegg, the renowned senior journalist and former Editor of Daily Graphic.

How would you describe yourself?
I would describe myself as very passionate about what I believe in. I would say I am someone who is very hungry…

What do you believe in?
I believe we can be better than we are today. I always believe I can do more all the time and I have actually lived that belief all my life. I change school and after the first exams, I start from the fifth or sixth position but somewhere along the line, I end up at the first position. Every time I get into a new area of life, I start as regular and ordinary but I end up being with the top. I believe I am capable of making myself better in any area of life so I read to know more, and I speak to people who know more than me so I tap into their knowledge.

You said you are very hungry.
Yes, I am hungry because if you feel for, you don’t eat more. I am hungry for knowledge, I am hungry for results. I realised it is not enough to have a certificate saying you can do ‘A’ or ‘B’ if you don’t execute it. So I am hungry for results and something that is quantifiable and measurable.  I am passionate about being the best that I can be.

What shaped this orientation?
It must be a number of things but predominantly my father. I had a great father, Sam Clegg, who perhaps had no reason to have risen to become Editor of the Daily Graphic for the number of years that he was there. He did not have a lot of education in formal terms. Of course he was among the second batch that was admitted to the GIJ by then. I still have his school notes and I still go through them and they are still very relevant. I saw my father going through Times Magazine, the News Week, telling me about the issues in there, making sure he was current on a global level and he had big books he recorded expressions that he loved; and he was always looking for the updated version of a dictionary. And all these things made me.  I grew up hungry for knowledge. Even as a little boy, I befriended people who were university graduates and I was always questioning them and debating them.

If you have a global mindset, there may be a certain standard that would be higher than what pertains in your country… You are listening to news on CNN and you know it comes at a certain quality; you are reading the Times Magazine and you realise it is written at a certain level. All these affect you to raise your bar than the status quo.

Some would tag you as being ‘too known’.
I have been called that many times.
Are you ‘too known’?
It depends on what it means because I am not sure about its exact meaning. In our society I don’t know whether ‘too known’ means you know something, or people know you know something, or you want others to know that you know something or you are cut above the rest.  I have been called ‘too known’ too many times and the idea is that I know something and I won’t keep quiet about it. If that is what they mean, I probably am. I don’t take offence at that at all. If what I know makes me a better person and it is positive, I don’t mind at all.

There is a temptation to look down on others who do not know as much as you do.

It may surprise you that most of the friends I keep are the ‘regular Joes’. I saw my father not look down on people and it is same I do and I have never looked down on anyone. Sometimes, I pick a cab just to interact with people and I do not even identify myself to them. They have some knowledge I can also tap from.  Yeah sometimes you may rub off people the wrong way but I never look down on anyone. But, I must say, I am not afraid to engage in a healthy debate or banter. The fact that I push my case strongly does not mean I do not take or respect your views.

How long have you been in the media?
I started at Radio Universe around 1988 but I have been in and out, in and out.

You could have done something more lucrative than media work.

I did not get into the media for money. I got into this space by accident. I was at the University of Ghana when a friend said Professor Yankah was threatening to shut down Radio Universe and his reason was that the quality—or rather the lack of it—of spoken English on the station was not the best. This friend suggested I should host a sports segment on the station just so Prof could get impressed and stop his threats. I said okay and that was it. We were not paid for it. Not that it was not enough…; we were not paid at all.

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Has it paid off?
Yes, in so many ways. The media has given me name recognition so much that being a professional lawyer alone may not have given me. There was a time I had my own production on television, ‘Inside Out With Nii Arday Clegg’, and it was great and we made a lot of money that I paid my taxes, I bought a plot of land at East Legon and a Mercedes Benz C-200 from the money I made. I was my own boss and it was all from the independent media work I did. I have had benefits without cutting corners, cheating or doing anything unethical.

Where then from the phenomenon that the media does not pay?

I think they may have a point. I never trained in a media school and I have never been a full time employee of any media house till date. Even here at Starr FM, I host the morning show then I move to my law firm. I have always had that flexibility that enables me to create an additional channel of income for myself.

I have also come to realise that you can only raise yourself to a certain level if you can show your value. I have always based my media activity and engagement using value which I have gained through knowledge.  If you are ready to show that extra leverage, you would always get a higher reputation and image and then you can bargain better.

But if as media people we all leave ourselves at the level where all we can do is to paragraph or read and that is all you can do, you become easily replaceable and dispensable because your value is minimal.

I think our media education should look at more content and detail. We should be able to teach some high level economics in journalism school so that you are not on the political or business desk simply because your boss wants to put you there but because you have what it takes to be there and you understand the issues. How can you be on the business desk when you don’t know what shares and dividends are; when you don’t even understand GDP, basic statistics and micro or macro economics at a global level yet you are expected to analyse a report by Transparency International?  Let’s get some content and value.

We are happy to watch CNN and enjoy their standard. Just run a Google search into the background of any face you see working on CNN and you would realise they have very high education and most have their Masters in various fields. Some are lawyers; some are economists and they have very high self values and content. That is what is lacking in Ghana.

Are the media owners in Ghana ready to pay money for employees with high value?

Most of them are not really interested in this and that is why we have this situation. But you ask yourself what type of media do we want to build for ourselves? Does Kweku Baako not tell a story of how he won an international award and he got to the African country where the award would be presented. He had to tell a lie that he had forgotten a copy of the paper he publishes simply because when he saw papers from other countries, he did not feel proud to display his own newspaper he publishes.

So the question is whether we want to play at the global level or the local level. I believe if we begin to churn out people who are more marketable, we would have media people who are useful to other fields. Bernard Avle, for instance, has an MBA from Warrick University and it tells in his work. Give yourself value and become marketable.

Are you a practicing lawyer?
Yes, I am. I do go to court.   I am a commercial corporate practitioner. I have a current case where the man on the other side is Bright Akwetey, a very solid lawyer who puts me on my toes. I did a case where a woman was married to a man for 40 years. The man died leaving behind a lot of property and in his will, the only thing he left her was a baggage full of insults.  We went to court and demanded half of his property and we won. I am ten years at the bar but I have been in private practice for eight years.

What do you believe in as far as religion is concerned?

I believe in God.
Who is this God?
I come from a stock of pastors of the Methodist Church…. I have never seen God but I think there is a manifestation of God in my life. I pray a lot and I see results.

Are you not saying what you were told as a child? What is the evidence that prayer works?

Believe me, prayer works. There is nothing I’ve prayed to God for that I’ve never had. There are times that prayer has proven science wrong in my life and the doctors themselves have been dumfounded.

TO BE CONTINUED FRIDAY…
By Halifax Ansah-Addo


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