President John Agyekum Kufuor has asked the media to use its power of influence to teach objectivity and enhance fellow feeling in the Ghanaian society.
"We are one people, who do not suffer extremes of religion, tribalism or gender and the media should be the main agency for making us become more aware of this", he said, when a delegation of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) National Executive, paid a courtesy call on him at the Castle, Osu in Accra, yesterday.
President Kufuor said the media with its power as the Fourth Estate should be a force for good and must not be used to lie, spin and malign people. He said the Government would continue to exercise restraint in the face of excesses and flagrant abuse of press freedom so as not to endanger the country's young democracy. Resorting to the sledgehammer approach, he said, could threaten the nation's democratisation.
President Kufuor was however, quick to add that the Government would not allow lies to subvert the integrity and security of the state saying, limited corrective measures, would be taken to make the aberrant fall in line.
He said they believed in democracy and all it entailed and that they were into politics to serve and make life better for the people through respect for their freedom of expression and choice but not to lord it over them. It was on the account of this that, "To us tolerance comes naturally".
The President said they were not pretending to be infallible but that they operated on the basis of goodwill towards others and expected the same from them. "We should not all agree on all issues and as politicians belonging to different political parties, the agencies we use should not hide behind newspapers to malign and defame others", he added.
Ms Adjoa Yeboah-Afari, out-going National President of the GJA, who led the delegation, said the Association was appreciative of the remarkable tolerance and media freedom in the country.
This, she said, had been recognised and captured by a global watchdog report that ranked Ghana second in sub-Saharan Africa, as a country where true press freedom existed.
She also expressed the GJA's gratefulness to President Kufuor for the release of the building that now serves as the International Press Centre and extended an official invitation to him to attend the Association's National Awards scheduled for May 5.
Mr Ransford Tetteh, the incoming GJA President, Affail Monney, the Vice President, Mr Bright Blewu, General Secretary, Ms Yaa Oforiwaah Acquah, National Treasurer and the Organising Secretary, Mr Mac Kwame were the other members of the delegation.