Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has reacted to Sir Samuel Esson Jonah’s Rotary lecture about the return of the “culture of silence” under the incumbent Akufo-Addo administration saying, “what Sam Jonah is saying is unfounded”.
Kufuor spoke in a yet-to-be-aired interview on Citi TV monitored by GhanaWeb.
“For a man like Sam to speak the way you are citing him or quoting him, it suggests perhaps he got some evidence but at least he’s spoken…they say freedom is not handed on a silver platter, sometimes you fight for it and this is part of the uses of the media we are talking about; to dare to speak up, to uphold public interest…” the former president explained to Bernard Avle.
He added, “Sam, a very responsible member within the community to say that should not be treated casually, he must have something he is advocating and it is not for me to dispute him. I’m just saying when you allege you prove it, you don’t put all on the government as such.”
President JA Kufuor further indicated that the murder of Ahmed Suale and other threats that some media personalities have suffered under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo cannot be laid on the president because there is no evidence to prove that the government incited those.
“This government is my government. [The] people alleging that; are they saying that it is the government that killed [Ahmed Suale]? Can they prove it? So, we have to be careful. If you mean the investigative mechanisms of state are not rising to the occasion, say that, but don’t say that it is the government that killed and it killed as a result of intolerance, we have to be careful,” President Kufuor stated.
Sir Sam Jonah had bemoaned that the Ghanaian media landscape was highly polarized and partisan because it was owned by politicians, something that has hindered the independence and objectivity of the media.
In his address to Rotarians in Accra under the theme; ‘Down the Up Escalator: Reflections on Ghana’s Future by a Senior Citizen on April 22, 2021, the business mogul said:
“Our media landscape is so polarized and partisan. There is hardly any objectivity because a lot of the media stations are owned by politicians whose interest is in swaying voters one way or the other. Independent media practice seems to have faded and journalism has become a conveyor belt for political propaganda, insults, and acrimony.”
Sir Jonah asked, “What is the status of the role of the media in holding the executive, judiciary, and legislature accountable as the fourth estate of the realm? Is it enough to just report issues? Where are the investigations? Where are the facts?
These are hard questions that the media must ask and reassess its role in reshaping our country’s future.”
Sir Jonah added that 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.”
He continued: “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 is lost. In our dark moments as a nation, it is concerning that the voices of the intellectuals are receding into oblivion. Sadly, it is a consequence of the deep partisan polarization of our country such that everything is seen through the lenses of politics.
It appears to me that the culture of silence has returned. This time not enforced by legal and military power but through convenience, parochialism, hypocrisy and lack of conviction. Where are our Adu Boahens and PAV Ansahs?”