Media Encounter: Cut 74-year-old Akufo-Addo some slack, he did an excellent job – Ursula
President Akufo-Addo did an excellent job at the 2018 media encounter to say the least; he deserves a break and some commendation, Minister for Communications and Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said.
The President has been massively criticized for having held the ‘worst ever’ media encounter in the history of Ghana after he met journalists Thursday at the Jubilee House.
Aside the fact that most journalists were disappointed about the fact that the number of questions to be asked at the event were reduced from 70 to just about 16, quite a number of people questioned the rationale behind coming in late after rescheduling the time, reading a rather long speech only to leave room for a limited number of questions from the press.
In addition to being described as the ‘worst ever’ in the history of Ghana, Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Dr. Clement Apaak says this year’s ‘Meet the Press’ event with President Akufo-Addo was a ‘disaster by every stretch of imagination’.
Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Sulemana Braimah as well as ardent critic of the Akufo-Addo's administration, Manasseh Azure Awuni did not mince words adding their voices to condemn the shortest ever Presidential encounter with the media yet.
In her submission on Saturday’s edition of Newsfile however, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said the comments being made are unfair and unnecessary considering the President defied all odds to fulfill his commitment to meet the press before end of year.
Despite his packed schedules that day she said, he was able to make the time, and do his best to address the concerns of journalists he had met with. ‘He is a 74-year old man’, she added, in justifying why among other things, the schedule had to be re-adjusted and number of questions cut to 17 from the original number 70.
“Let’s cut him some slack, I think he did an excellent job….…I know that he had returned from a trip to Vienna and Paris at 3, that same day and he had meetings as well and that necessitated the adjustment of the schedules so I thought even that alone, and he is a 74-year-old man. No matter how challenging his day was and his year was, he was determined to meet with the press”.
“If he had taken all the 70 questions, he would have been there for four hours and I think that’s a bit much to ask”.
“In terms of answering the questions, he was spot on. Getting ministers to contribute to answers, I don’t think there was anything wrong because they are there, they are the ones directly dealing with those briefs, he may not have all the answers at that time and it is honest for him to have admitted that this particular point, I don’t have the answers, the people directly working on these issues are there so let them supply the answers. Is it just the interaction with the President that the media wants or they want responses to the questions that they’ve asked.”
She cited Akufo-Addo’s contribution towards the repeal of the criminal libel law as evidence that he has the well-being of the media at heart and will under no circumstance disrespect them.
“To describe him in terms of being intolerant, disrespectful and all that, that’s not the relationship he has had with the media and if not for anything at all, this media pluralism we are enjoying today is largely because of his efforts in repealing the criminal libel law. I think he wanted to draw large strokes for the agenda in telling the assembled media how much work had been done and I think he did a good job and touched on many areas”, she stated.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful also noted how criticism from the media was expected considering past trends with the various governments.
“I believe we have all seen a number of meet the press briefings by the various presidents over the years and not one of them has gone without criticisms. It appears the media is a very hard task master and very difficult to please so no matter how much you try to accommodate their concerns, you will always fall short because they hold people to an impossible standard judging by their comments on the various press briefings by the various presidents of the fourth republic but I think it is a very useful encounter we continue to have with our presidents”.