The Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo led government has been criticised for its incessant intimidation of the media through its ‘culture of silence agenda‘.
Blessed Godsbrain Smart, the Smart Show host on Smart TV, who made the comment says the rate at which the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is unnerving journalists to prevent them from criticising the government is untypical of the party that accord themselves as apostates of democracy.
His comment, which was closely monitored by Ghanasonline.com come on the back of comments made by the President that, criticism of the media is not an attack.
Speaking at the African Journalists’ Leaders Conference on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, President Akufo-Addo indicated “when journalists are physically attacked or prevented from doing their work, no matter where in the world it takes place, that is an attack on media freedom, and must be roundly condemned by all. However, “there seems to be an emerging narrative, which is being proffered by some in Ghana, that critiquing the work of a journalist constitutes an attack on media freedom. That certainly cannot be described as an attack on media freedom.” He continued, “having the freedom to criticise and oppose should also mean that the media is ready to accept and work with criticisms of its work by the citizenry or officialdom. That, for me, is one of the surest ways of improving the public discourse of our respective countries, and we should all strive towards realising this.”
It is based on this statement that Mr. Smart said the President should equally contain criticism from the media, rather than overawing them for voicing out the ills in his government.
He explained that, when the very people government is curtailing now strike, their actions, even though not radical, would spur consequences damning than what happened in 1966.
“J.A Kufuor said humans are not drowned by warm water, but rather, cold water. So irrespective of how hot your tea water is, accompanied with the milo, sugar, milk and fried egg which you’re going to use for your breakfast, it can never drown you. But know that the cold water is gradually creeping out of the sea and the day it gets to where you are, despite nobody coming with a knife, stick or any weapon, what will happen will be more than 1966,” he said on the Smart Show Monday, June 6, 2021.
Furthering his argument to substantiate his claims, he quizzed how Happy FM’s Okatakyie Kwame Afrifa was threatened by stalwarts of the NPP which led to his resignation, adding that of Atinka FM’s Bismark Brown, who was equally asked to take out the “Si No Pi” segment from his show because it wasn’t singing praises to the government.
Fabɛwɔso, a segment of the then Anɔpa Bɔfoɔ, which according to Kwaku Oteng, President of the Angel Broadcasting Network (ABN), was making government unpopular and made him suspend its host, Captain Smart, was equally cited.
“How did Okatakyie Afrifa leave Happy FM? He was on a show and a text came and he was told to either tow the way of the government or leave and he resigned”
“Go to Atinka FM and TV and that guy [Bismark Brown] who was doing that segment like Fabɛwɔso [Si No Pi] on the show, he was told to take that segment out because it is disturbing the government according to an order from above, and he was also taken off air”
“Bronzy [CEO of ABN] said there was pressure from government officials on President [Kwaku Oteng] so I should call him. And when I called he said because of the stories I’ve been doing, they’ve put so much pressure on him– in taxes –so I should go on a suspension for 30 days for them [government] to know I’ve been able to control you,” Smart quoted the ABN President, Kwaku Oteng.
Mr. Smart added the actions of the government would adversely affect the NPP by leaving a negative impression on the minds of journalists who would have the NPP in their wrong books.
“Nana, should this happen under your government? If any other government should entertain this, I don’t expect your government to entertain this rubbish. Journalists are really suffering under your tenure if you don’t know. Majority of journalists are being intimidated. If you don’t take care, you may leave a legacy that, after your tenure, no journalist will remember the things you did,” he noted.