The news item captioned “Don’t Dare Attack Joy News’ Manasseh Azure – Minority Warns Gov’t” Modernghana.com 3/9/19) must have flattered or even boosted the vaulting ego of the still-young award-winning broadcast journalist. Even so, it was nothing short of the inexcusably and shamelessly cynical and hypocritical, especially coming from the leadership of a political establishment that has an infamously perennial track-record of the relentless persecution of journalists and media operatives in the country going back nearly 40 years. To be certain, nearly every significant Ghanaian journalist above 50 years old who lived under the tenures of the Rawlings-led Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and had the misfortune of criticizing either of these two tandem regimes likely served time in one of the prison facilities around the country.
It was also ironic because the man who was being warned off any attempt to either harass or persecute Mr. Manasseh Azure Awuni, to wit, President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was actually the man whose visionary and foresighted crafting of the landmark Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, as former President John Agyekum-Kufuor’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, induced the present liberal political climate under which Ghanaian journalists and other media operatives, as never before in the country’s postcolonial history, are now able to practice their trade without constantly having to look over their shoulders or being morbidly and deathly afraid of being picked up under the thick cover of darkness to be tortured and literally emasculated in the old Danish slave fort, more famously known as either The Osu Castle or Christiansborg Castle.
Thus, the rather asinine warning, reportedly issued by the Haruna Iddrisu-led National Democratic Congress’ Parliamentary Minority, came in much the same manner that any critical thinker may receive a communiqué issued by a tomcat calling for a moratorium on the purportedly gross ill-treatment of a college of mice. If, indeed, Mr. Awuni had any passable knowledge of the general maltreatment of Ghanaian journalists by Left-leaning politicians like the leaders of the country’s main opposition National Democratic Congress, and such lock-stepping allies as the leaders of the Nkrumah-inspired rump-Convention People’s Party (r-CPP), the Nduom-owned and operated Progressive People’s Party (PPP), among a platoon of others, the “Bongo Boy” would have issued a tersely worded note to Messrs. Iddrisu, Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka and Mahama Ayariga, thanking them for so suavely and unctuously pretending to be his best friends and avid professional protectors.
He would also have ended his letter or note of appreciation by asking the self-serving Iddrisu Gang to keep its well-choreographed protective gesture to themselves or even more aptly, share the same with the young broadcast journalist with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC-Radio) who was savagely mauled by Mr. Stanislav X. Dogbe, the Mahama Presidential Staffer, at the 37th Military Hospital, with the tacit condonement of Mr. Affail Monney, the President of the Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA), almost as if such brutal mauling was a godsend, in much the same way that then-Vice-President John Dramani Mahama envisaged the death of then-President John Evans Atta-Mills.
The fact of the matter is that it is the leaders of the National Democratic Congress who have absolutely no moral authority and/or credibility to presume to either speak to the critical democratic tenet of media freedom, or the inalienable right of the “Bongo Boy” to practice journalism in the country, however depraved or defamatory, with unfettered freedom. Of course, Mr. Awuni, who has done some quite laudable sleuthing in the recent past, including the seismic exposé on the Mahama-Kanazoe Ford Expedition Payola Scandal, is fully aware of having grossly misfired in his well-calculated albeit dastardly attempt to portray President Akufo-Addo as a downright hypocrite who could not be taken seriously at his word.
Indeed, even as I pointed out in a previous column of this series, at the time that he called on the leaderships of his own New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the latter’s National Democratic Congress’ counterparts to confer over the need to promptly disband their party-affiliated vigilante groups, absolutely no NPP-affiliated “De Eye” vigilante group was operating from the Osu Castle. At any rate, even if the aforesaid group had been operating from the Castle at the time that Mr. Awuni and his Multimedia employers televised his sensationally captioned documentary – “Security at the Heart of the Nation,” or some such title – it clearly would not have been with either the knowledge or consent of Nana Akufo-Addo, whose own National Security Minister, we are reliably informed, had been trying to dislodge the “De Eye” vigilante operatives from the Osu Castle as relatively far back as October last year or even well before.
On the question of whether, indeed, the Osu Castle was a “Security Zone,” as reportedly claimed by the Joy-News’ investigative reporter in his documentary, I prefer not to side with the Information Minister. Indeed, Mr. Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah may not know this, but last July when I visited Ghana and attempted to take a tour of the Osu Castle, I was sharply, albeit politely, pushed back by a fairly well-built civilian man at a desk that resembled one of the two that I use in my office. And when I pointed to a picture of Nana Akufo-Addo on the adjacent wall and said that The President was my uncle, the man looked at me with a modicum of skepticism and told me that the Castle was only open to the public on Fridays between 10am and 3pm, if memory serves yours truly accurately. I never got to tour the Castle with my wife and two preteen sons. Instead, we had to “serendipitously” travel to Elmina and Cape Coast the following week. “Serendipitous” because traveling to Cape Coast offered us a fortuitous chance to meet with Nana Akufo-Addo at the Ghana National College, after I had failed for nearly one month to establish direct contact with Jubilee House.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
March 10, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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