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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has dispelled claims that a culture of silence is returning in Ghana. He said Ghana’s media freedom is one that is held in high esteem across the West African sub-region.
Speaking at a special congregation in his honour on Saturday 29 May 2021 at the Cape Coast University after receiving an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership), Akufo-Addo said since he became president, there is nothing that has crossed his path that will make him endorse anything that stands in the way of press freedom and the protection of fundamental human rights.
“Since becoming president, there is nothing I have seen or experienced in the office that will make me change my long held views on the importance of fundamental human rights. I have worked with civil society organisations and used their platforms to engage in famous arguments, healthy debates and I am not averse to the occasional controversy that is a necessary part of public life,” Akufo-Addo said.
At a Rotary Ghana event last month, business mogul Sir Sam Jonah alleged that the country is slowly creeping back into a culture of silence. “In the past, when all had failed, academia was the last vanguard. We all remember the role that the Legon Observer played. Under the hallowed cloak of academic freedom, men and women of conscience could write and speak words that penetrated the halls of power. It appears to me that in recent times in our fourth Republican dispensation, the courage to stand up for the truth and the determination to uphold the common good are lost”, Sir Jonah said.
However, President Akufo-Addo who disagreed said: “I have said so and I will say it again that I will much rather that we had a reckless press than a sparing one. I dare say that the atmosphere in our country is one of spirited conversation and debate among politicians, the business community, civil society organisations, and ordinary citizens through print, radio, television or in particular, social media, whether they are home or abroad. Indeed, I dare say that the means to get your voice heard has never been so democratised as now and long may it last.”
And, for me, personally, I find it ironic that the Presidency of a man who has been and continues to be the most vilified political figure of his generation can be accused of presiding over a “culture of silence. There is no midnight knock on the door in Ghana for authors of dissenting views, nor will there be during my presidency,” Akufo-Addo noted.