Ex-President John Dramani Mahama, has beaten his successor, Nana Akufo-Addo, in the media handling and tolerance of divergent views expressed by journalists.
While, ex-President Mahama and his wife; Lordina Mahama, opened their doors and arms very wide to every “Tom, Dick and Harry” including their fierce critics, Mr. Akufo-Addo, won’t have none of that relationship with his critics, and this was demonstrated yesterday in the Flagstaff House, when his government selectively invited some particular journalists from certain media houses to attend and question him on his six months in office as President of Ghana.
Indeed, while some media houses according to Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, had over six persons invited, many media houses, considered unfriendly to the NPP, had no single representation at all.
Both President Mahama and his predecessor, John Evans Atta Mills, at their media encounters, invited several media houses, including unfriendly ones to the presidency to question him on any subject they deem fit and proper.
But in the case of President Akufo-Addo, he started addressing the sieved journalists by attacking a section of the media, saying they had been attacking him, but praised those holding his government accountable and publishing its policies.
He said, even though he has been “one of the greatest victims of irresponsible sections of the media, and I refer to those who have created an industry from spewing calumnies, falsehoods and outright fabrications against my person, I do not regret…my role in the repeal of the old discredited law.”
Nana Akufo-Addo, who owns the New Statesman Newspaper, as Attorney-General under the John Kufuor government spearheaded the repeal of the criminal libel law, under which some journalists were arrested and detained by the government.
Addressing journalists to mark his six months in office, the president said, “The repeal has inspired the Ghanaian media to be one of the freest and most vibrant on the entire continent of Africa, if not the world.”
The president said, he prefers the “noisy, boisterous, sometimes scurrilous media of today, to the monotonous, praise-singing, sycophantic one of yesteryear.”
He believes the media, has enriched Ghana’s democratic credentials through its investigations and curiosity.
Since his inauguration on January 7, the president said, he hadn’t had any encounter with the media and thought it proper to meet with them yesterday, as part of his determination to hold himself accountable to the Ghanaian people.
Without mentioning names, the president said, “I cannot complain about the lack of exposure of my thoughts, statements, or policies since I became president.”
Despite his predecessor, President John Mahama open-door policy towards the media, he was later to complain bitterly about the media not highlighting his government’s achievements.
Mr. Mahama, believed that large sections of the media, repeatedly harped on corruption to the detriment of his infrastructure projects and policy achievements.
But president Akufo-Addo, said he has no complaints at all, he rather commended the presidential press corps highly “whose duty it is to cover the presidency; they should know that their work is appreciated.”
Meanwhile, the Information Minister, has apologised to media houses, which may have felt slighted or sidelined in favour of others at the media encounter yesterday. His apology, follows accusations by certain media houses that few media groups, were favoured to the neglect of others.
“Somehow, there is an accusation which I’ve heard which may be justified that many of the people who were called were either from EIB or Multimedia … the justifiable one is what I’m admitting to you, there’s no need to lie, that there were many people from EIB and Multimedia, but they are independent media houses on their own,” Mr. Hamid told Class News’ Kwesi Parker-Wilson.
“If you look at it, this is Adom FM, this is Joy FM, this is Joy TV, this is GHOne, this is Agoo TV. I mean if you want to say that the whole of Multimedia, too, you’ll just allow one question, it’ll not be fair, but you heard me say that for Joy FM in particular, I would allow only one person to ask only the question, so I was conscious enough.
“I called Daily Graphic, I called Daily Guide, I called GTV, so I tried to be as balanced as possible, but I’m human, of course and if I’ve made mistakes I admit that I’ve made those mistakes, I’m not perfect at all, so if I’ve made mistakes I apologise sincerely from the bottom of my heart. I’m very sorry, let them forgive me but it can never be deliberate.”
Ahead of the Q&A session, the president, had praised the media for their support for him in the past six months and said he would prefer a “noisy, scandalous” media to a “sycophantic” one.