In 1971, when Jimmy Carter, former president of the United States of America (USA), when he run for governor of Georgia, had a thesis he said was developed in prayer, thought and experience, and later expressed in speeches and in writing. One paragraph summarizes it;
“Government at all levels can be competent, economical, and efficient. Yet I would hasten to point out that nowhere in the Constitution of the United States, or the Declaration of Independence, or the Bill of Rights, or the Emancipation Proclamation, or the Old Testament, or the New Testament do you find the words’ economy’ or ‘efficiency’. Not that these two words are unimportant. But you discover other words like honesty, integrity, fairness, liberty, justice, courage, patriotism, compassion, love-and many others which describe the qualities that a human being aught possess. These are also the same words which describe the qualities that a government of human beings ought to possess”.
I have heard and I have read, I have listened and unfortunately, at some point contributed to crediting Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for repealing the criminal libel law.
Anytime the issue of human rights abuse are raised, or the attack not only on media freedom, but journalists under this administration, the proponents of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and especially those who owe blind allegiance to Akufo-Addo, will remind us that, he is a human rights lawyer and was the one, who as minister of Justice and Attorney General, repealed the criminal libel law.
Akufo-Addo’s trump card, or if you his Unique Selling Point (USP), when he first launched his bid to be president in the 90’s was that, he is a proponent of the rule of law and has been the voice of the voiceless.
We all have one point in our life or another presented a different picture of ourselves, in fulfillment of a selfish interest.
As a young man, in pursuing the opposite sex, I have had to placate some things, make promises that I cannot fulfill. The reality becomes clear, after I have won her heart and she is looking up to me, to keep the appearance or fulfill the promises, I made, that is when you hear the phrase “you lied to me”.
President Akufo-Addo, made a fool of all of us, he got us to believe under his watch, there will not be human right abuses, freedom of speech will be absolute, media houses and practitioners, will have the space and the freedom to do their work.
Less than three years in office, and the man has done 360 degrees turnaround from everything, we were told he abhors.
I am now convinced more than ever that, on Friday July 27, 2001, when Ghana’s parliament unanimously repealed the Criminal Libel and Seditious Laws, which had been used to incarcerate a number of journalists in the past, it was the because president John Agyekum Kufuor, was the head of state.
If Akufo-Addo, was the president, that law, would still be in our books by now.
I make this pronouncement, because everything president Akufo-Addo, has done since the birth of his administration, was to all intent and purposes, introduce another libel law, which is not to see the incarceration of journalists and media practitioners, but to prevent them from practicing freely their profession.
The media, since 1992, when we ushered in the fourth republican dispensation, has not been subjected to these open hostility and attacks than in the last two years.
Power they say corrupt and absolute power corrupt absolutely. Emperor Akufo-Addo, who came to power on the back of the media, has been the president, under whose watch the media, has been physically attacked, insulted, basterdised for doing its work.
Since 2008, when he first made attempt at the presidency, he has always found favour with the media, the media bought into his lies of promoting their interest.
It was Frank Degore, who said the only thing at the back of the mind of the politician, when he make promises, is power.
Akufo-Addo, has become after winning power the existential threat to the survival of the media in the country.
In the era, when journalists, are expected to have the freedom to practice their trade, they can be killed without repercussion by the perpetrators.
Media houses perceived to be anti-government have now become target or persecution. A country governed by a human rights lawyer, things are supposed to be done by the book, but the opposite is what we are witnessing unfortunately.
President Akufo-Addo, has achieved many firsts. It is during his time that media houses were closed down with impunity by the National Communication Authourity (NCA), with regard to its own laws, it is during his time that, a journalist, who has been known over the period to expose corrupt acts, was threatened to the extent that, he had to be flown out of the country for his safety, it was during his time that, an undercover journalist, was killed in a Hollywood style movie and his assailants are yet to be brought to justice. The unfortunate things that have happened to the practice of journalism, cannot be stated here and yet we are always reminded that, he is a champion of rule of law, democracy and freedom of the press.
Ex-president John Agyekum Kufuor, deserves praise for the repeal of the criminal libel law and not Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, because truth be told president Kufuor, was one of the most vilified president of our time, but journalists and media practitioners, were never afraid to practice their profession.
All manner of allegations were leveled against including impregnating Gaizel Yatzi, but at no point during his reign, were journalists threatened, beaten, killed or media houses closed down for any breach.
Posterity, will judge Nana Akufo-Addo, as the worst president we have had in the fourth republic.