Must the law be a respecter of persons? Is anyone or outfit too powerful to abide by the law? I have keenly observed and monitored discussions following the National Communication Authority's decision to sanction some radio stations for various infractions pertaining to their authorisations to operate as contained in section 13 of the Electronic Communications (Amended) Act (2009), Act 775.
I must say I am surprised at some comments following the sanction. I was taken by a surprise to see some persons give the exercise undertaken by NCA a partisan twist instead of critically discussing the matter without any attachments. Until when will we as a country come to an understanding that our partisanship would do as no good other than inhibit development if we do not burry it in issues of national development.
It is not under contention that the NCA has a legal mandate to regulate the actions of radio stations and to sanitize the airwaves. It is also not contended that the law on electronic communications was not enacted and passed by NCA. Is it not the case that the said law was made to be invoked for the purpose for which it has been used now? Perhaps let me ask whether the affected radio stations did not know that such a law exists? If NCA had reneged on its mandate, are we not going to chastise them for non-performance? Why the hue and cry after they have done their lawfully mandated work?
One statement which has never been spared after being used by President Barrack Obama is "Ghana needs strong institutions and not strong men." Is it not hypocritical that same people who subscribed to this statement are fighting against the attainability of same call? Whose ox is gored that we have started changing our position on building strong institutions? Cry mother Ghana, cry.
The role the media has played in the past and still continues to play cannot be underestimated, but to see it as an untouchable arm is overblown. Any attempt to gag the media must be condemned in no uncertain terms. The media must be free to educate, entertain and inform the people as the laws of Ghana allow. Press freedom and media pluralism must not be sacrificed for anything on any day. But must this freedom indemnify or insure the media from fulfilling their responsibilities and abiding by laws? We must not be remiss of the fact that rights and freedoms come with responsibilities to be performed. The media in Ghana must practice freely in an atmosphere of regulations, laws and order and this must be a guide to all media houses.
Now, to the calls for clemency, I ask, if clemency is always resorted to after breaches of law, how would the law and the law enforcing agencies be effective? It is pathetic to hear others say because the law was made by man and not man for law, the law must be applied considerably. It is my ontological submission that this call for mercy will weaken law enforcement and regulatory institutions. The time for strict adherence to the law is long overdue. The law must work without considerations. We should not wait for some bad news before we enforce the law. We must take the bull by the horn and enforce the law irrespective of who is suffering from the enforcement of the law. If NCA sits aloof and does not enforce its laws now, same people who are benefiting from the non-enforceability will be on it one day if the unexpected happens. Let NCA take a cue from the chastisement being meted out to institutions responsible for the regulations of filing stations following the gas explosions witnessed in Ghana.
Yes, objections and protestations will surface in the enforcement of the law but that should not be a hindrance. Indeed, NCA must take inspiration from Niccolo Machiavelli's instructive statement that "it must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order."
In conclusion, I want to call on all and sundry to back NCA in its bid to ensure that the law works. Laws must work. We cannot sit and watch impunity happen and complain when the unfortunate tragedies happen.
National Service Person, Danquah Institute