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General News of Saturday, 29 May 2021


I'm the 'most vilified' politician; accusing me of enforcing culture of silence 'ironic' – Akufo-Addo replies Sam Jonah

President  Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

President Nana Akufo-Addo has said it is ironic that as a the most vilified politician of this generation, he should be accused of superintending an atmosphere of culture of silence as alluded to by businessman Sir Sam Jonah about a month ago.

Speaking at the University of Cape Coast after receiving an honorary doctorate degree (Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership), Akufo-Addo said: “Since becoming president, there is nothing I have seen or experienced in the office that will make me change my long-held views on the importance of fundamental human rights”.

With the Chancellor of UCC, Mr Sam Jonah sitting just a few steps by him, Mr Akufo-Addo said: “I have worked with civil society organisations and used their platforms to engage in famous arguments, healthy debates and I am not averse to the occasional controversy that is a necessary part of public life”.

“I have said so and I will say it again that I will much rather that we had a reckless press than a sparing one”, he added.

“I daresay that the atmosphere in our country is one of spirited conversation and debate among politicians, the business community, civil society organisations, and ordinary citizens through print, radio, television or in particular, social media, whether they are home or abroad”.

“Indeed, I daresay that the means to get your voice heard has never been so democratised as now and long may it last,” the president said.

In a speech to Rotarians in Accra titled ‘Down the up escalator – Reflections on Ghana’s future by a senior citizen’, the executive chairman of Jonah Capital, an equity fund based in Johannesburg, South Africa, said: “In the past, when all had failed, academia was the last vanguard”.

“We all remember the role that the Legon Observer played”, he said, adding: “Under the hallowed cloak of academic freedom, men and women of conscience could write and speak words that penetrated the halls of power”.

However, he noted: “It appears to me that in recent times in our fourth Republican dispensation, the courage to stand up for the truth and the determination to uphold the common good are lost. In our dark moments as a nation, it is concerning that the voices of the intellectuals are receding into oblivion”.

“Sadly, it is a consequence of the deep partisan polarisation of our country such that everything is seen through the lenses of politics”, noting: “It appears to me that the culture of silence has returned. This time, not enforced by legal and military power but through convenience, parochialism, hypocrisy and lack of conviction”.

“Where are our Adu Boahens and PAV ANSAHs?” he asked.

However, President Akufo-Addo said “it cannot be that everyone has a right of reply except members of the government and officialdom. Nor can it be that challenging an opinion expressed by a journalist constitutes an attack on press freedom”.

“What I believe may be lacking sorely in our society today, is the need to listen to each other more. Knowledge has never been a gift granted exclusively to one group. We must listen, and hear each other more”.

“And, for me, personally, I find it ironic that the Presidency of a man who has been and continues to be the most vilified political figure of his generation can be accused of presiding over a culture of silence. There is no midnight knock on the door in Ghana for authors of dissenting views, nor will there be during my presidency,” Akufo-Addo noted.

“I belong to the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition, one whose forebears, at great personal sacrifice, fought for the democratic, open, free system of government we are enjoying today in Ghana. They propagated the concept of democracy at a time when it was not, in Africa, a fashionable concept. Indeed, the philosophy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) coincides with that of the Fourth Republican Constitution. It is the dominant political philosophy in the world today, and has stood the test of time,” Akufo-Addo stated.