He has done more to enhance the level and quality of journalism and general media practice in the country. Ironically, however, in the leadup to the 2008 Presidential Election, during the National Merit Honor Awards List that was originally published by the John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), but for the very public and vehement intervention of Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, Ghana’s immediate-former Speaker of Parliament, the then-Candidate Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would not have made the list. That he was the Chief Architect of the landmark Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, an unprecedented legal instrument that effectively scrapped or abrogated the extant Criminal Libel Law, an execrable British colonial legacy that had been proudly and comfortably inherited and operated by the Kwame Nkrumah-led government of the so-called Convention People’s Party (CPP), did not seem to have mattered the least bit to the then-President John Agyekum-Kufuor and his relative and Presidential Chief-of-Staff, to wit, Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani.
You even had state-sponsored terrorism architects like Capt. Kojo Tsikata (Ret.) on the 2008 National Merit Honors List. As well, you had the then-Candidate John Evans Atta-Mills, of Swedru Declaration infamy, and his then Presidential-Election Running-Mate, namely, Mr. John Dramani Mahama, also smack on the list. And guess what, Dear Reader? Chairman Jerry John Rawlings would also have been at the very top of the list, but for his early strong, clear and unmistakable warning that he would roundly and flatly reject outright any asinine overtures made by Messrs. Agyekum-Kufuor and Mpiani to court his attention and his affection. Of course, what this meanspirited decision to reach over the proverbial ideological divide to courting the cutthroat likes of the Rawlings Posse, while flagrantly and scandalously ignoring the most significant enhancer of Free Speech and Media Democracy in the country, informed the reader and the general Ghanaian public more about was the psychologically, emotionally and morally unbalanced personalities of Messrs. Agyekum-Kufuor and Mpiani, the infamous Wereko-Brobby uncle, than just about anything that it could be aptly said to have to do with Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
It at once and, perhaps quite deservedly so, reduced anything that such bad faith gesture had to do with the Free-Speech and Media Democracy credentials of the John Agyekum-Kufuor-led government of the New Patriotic Party. It would also not fall to a pathologically narcissistic President Agyekum-Kufuor his much-craved encomium as Fourth-Republican Ghana’s most dynamic, visionary and progressive leader. These two accolades or encomiums would, logically and naturally, fall into the laps of the proverbial “Little Man from Kyebi.” Now, when Ghana’s former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice says that on any good day, Nana Akufo-Addo would prize “a boisterous and reckless media” over a docile and a “supine” one, you bet your bottom-dollar that the foremost trial lawyer of his generation knows precisely what the grandson of the immortalized Osagyefo Nana Sir Ofori-Atta, I, is talking about (See “I Prefer a Boisterous, Reckless Media to a Supine One – Akufo-Addo” Modernghana.com 6/1/21).
The indisputable fact of the matter is that under the watch of President Akufo-Addo, so democratically enhanced have been the country’s media culture as to dangerously verge on anomie and chaos. The language of the general Ghanaian media could not have become more “reckless” and “intemperate” than under the watch of any other Fourth-Republican leader, including Mr. John “European Airbus Payola” Dramani Mahama, the man who was widely reported and known to smugly and disdainfully tell his most ardent critics, largely the very Ghanaian voters who put him into Jubilee House or the Presidency, that they had absolutely no moral credibility and authority to criticize his abjectly poor job performance because none of these electors had ever stood for and/or been elected President of the Sovereign Democratic Republic of Ghana. This is the man that his Amen-Corner touts claim to be imbued with greater humility than his immediate successor.
I guess what I wanted to add, more than anything else, is that it could not have been more fitting and appropriate for President Akufo-Addo to have been invited to address the members of the Africa Journalists’ Leadership Conference, recently, at the Alisa Hotel, in Accra, on Tuesday, June 1, 2021. The fact of the matter is that no Fourth Republican Ghanaian leader appreciates the media and the media profession better than the man whose own father founded the Ghanaian Statesman newspaper in the heat of the country’s liberation struggle from British colonial imperialism in 1949. At this most historic juncture, what needs to be remarkably worked upon is the relationship between media operatives and the Ministry of National Security under the watch of Nana Akufo-Addo. But even here, matters are not as disturbing as they had been under, say, the tenure of former President John Dramani Mahama, when the latter’s Presidential Communications Director, Mr. Stanislav Xoese Dogbe, was widely reported to have acquired the pet habit of routinely beating up journalists like his butlers or house servants.
*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
June 5, 2021
E-mail: [email protected]