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No ‘culture of silence’; we’re rather promoting ‘culture of free media’ – Oppong Nkrumah

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Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has disagreed with critics of the government who say there is a culture of silence under President Nana Akufo-Addo.

At the opening of the office for the Coordinated Mechanism on the Safety of Journalists at a ceremony in Accra on Tuesday, 4 May 2021, Mr Oppong Nkrumah said: “This is part of the many layers of work the government wants to do to ensure free media operate in Ghana”.

He said the office was an additional layer, aside from many other interventions, to demonstrate the government’s commitment to press freedom and safety of journalists.

“It is the reason I cannot agree that there is a culture of silence in Ghana because the government is committed to the culture of free media in Ghana,” he said.

The office is operated by the National Media Commission.

The office becomes the official source for filing complaints of attacks on journalists, validating alleged attacks, following up on investigations and sanctions; and reporting on the safety of journalists. 

Cabinet approved the framework for the office in 2020 after the Ministry of Information submitted a memo to that effect.

The National Media Commission (NMC) shall be the independent operator of the office, as part of its efforts to promote safety in the industry.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah urged journalists to take advantage of the facility in addressing pressing issues on their safety.

He said it was the big wish of the government that the facility and its operations grow beyond what it is today and be replicated in other regions.

He thanked “all those who have walked the journey in making this office a reality”.

He also called on the NMC to be professional and independent on matters that come before the office.

”If you do it well, other countries going through same challenges will come and learn from you”, he said.

”Complaints can be made at the office through phone calls, personal submissions and in the future, there are plans to introduce an online service,” he stated.

Culture of silence clam

Sir Sam Jonah recently said the culture of silence appears to have returned to Ghana’s current democratic dispensation.

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.

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