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Sunday, June 16, 2024

GHANA CANNOT AFFORD TO TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED- OTUMFUO

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The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has stated that Ghana has just come through a tumultous year in which the constitutional order was put through its severest stress. He has noted that the commencement of work in the 8th Parliament of the Fourth Republic had not been in the most edifying tradition, but no one could have expected that the year would conclude with our honourable House degenerating into a brawl with very honourable members putting aside their debating skills in order to exhibit their punching prowess.

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The Asantehene has further stated that the stress on our highest institutions of state and on the nation’s psyche has shown clearly that we cannot afford to be complacent, or take anything for granted both now and in the future.

“Recognising this also makes it necessary for us to take a good look at ourselves and the path we have embarked upon, seek any fault-lines that may appear so we can take the appropriate steps to mend them. Such constant introspection is necessary if we are to avoid the unexpected and secure the future for generations to come,” he said.

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II said this at the opening of a media capacity enhancement capacity workshop on Monday.

He noted that the focus of such introspection shall be highest on our political leaders who, after all, occupy what political scientists consider the first and second estates of the realm, namely the executive and the legislature.

“And we do of necessity also have to empathise with the Chief Justice as he moves to strengthen the judiciary in its duty of protecting the rule of law as the third estate,” he said.

The Otumfuo however sadly noted that when it comes to matters relating to what is referred to as the fourth estate, the nation tend to treat it with less than the seriousness it deserves.

“After all, we do not elect them nor do we have to worry about how much of our taxes they need for their upkeep. Nonetheless, the role the media plays is every inch as criticism as any of the institutions within the body politic,” he said.

He noted that the media opens the eyes and ears of society to what is happening around them and act as the filtration system that enables the people to filter the good from the bad.

“And you induce the feelings and emotions which contribute to the decisions and actions we take as individuals. Indeed, all the studies about the role of the media attest to its power and influence under all political systems. Just as it helps the people make informed decisions in a democracy, so it can mobilise and arouse mob action to de-stabilise society,” he said.

He said that in Ghana, the media can be said to be a major success story in the country’s journey to democratic governance.

“We remember the period when all media, both print and electronic was owned and controlled by the state.  The contrast today is mind-boggling. The media terrain today reflects a diversity of political opinion and journalists feel free to operate without the constraints of the now deceased criminal libel law. But while we celebrate the lie ration of the media, we cannot ignore the sight of fresh debris thrown onto the terrain by the explosion of freedom.

“It may well be that not all the people who were attracted by the lure of the media were fully conversant with the moral and ethical standards enshrined in the industry. It may also be the case that the pace of expansion of the electronic media has been faster than the available professional Human Resources can cope with. As a result, we have this mixed bag of, on the one hand, some outstanding media houses doing their best to emulate the press barons of bygone days while on the other side we face numerous operations giving cause for great concern.

“At stake here are the basic norms of journalism as a profession, our conception of the frontiers of press freedom and respect for the laws and traditions of our society. The core business of the media is to provide the citizens with information which enables them come to informed decisions. Every professional journalist knows that his greatest asset, indeed the greatest asset of the profession, is CREDIBILITY. And credibility comes from the accuracy of information and the fairness with which it is presented,” the Otumfuo said.

He noted that journalism does not peddle in rumours.

“There is a line between fact and comment or conjecture that the profession must always respect and the media must never forget that it loses credibility whenever it publishes material which turns out to be untrue or substantially inaccurate,” he said.

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II further cautioned the media to disabuse its mind of the misconception that its freedom is without bounds.

“The removal of the criminal libel law only removed the criminal element which could send journalists to jail. But the right of the citizen to have recourse to the law for the protection of their reputation against defamation by the media remains absolutely intact. The laws of libel and defamation are alive and there are still laws against incitement, offences likely to cause a breach of the peace and many others designed to protect the peace and security of the state. Any of these laws can have relevance to the operations of the media,” he said.

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II expressed as evident from any close analysis of the media terrain today that there may be a yawning gap in the conception of many elements within the media.

“As the man with official responsibility for information, I applaud the Ho. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah for not seeking the path of confrontation on the issue. Recourse to education is the appropriate step in our circumstance and I am pleased he has found this formidable team of experts to kick start the educational journey.

“It is my hope that improving the understanding of our practitioners will contribute to the enhancement of the quality of the media and diminish the sources of concern we see today. Let me conclude with a fervent appeal to the media, to all our journalists, and media owners —we all have a duty to protect, and preserve the unity and stability of our country. In the face of all the turmoil in the world, you are proud because you can point to your country with pride in its stability and increasing success.

“A challenging moment it has been but it is also the moment for us to follow the Methodist hymnal and count our blessings. Count them one by one. And we will know what the Lord has done for us. That knowledge should inspire us to persevere, to work hard to douse the fires of conflict, work hard to forge unity, generosity of heart. Never mind where the momentum of politics may be leading, the peace and stability of our nation must be inviolable.

“The media will be doing a great service to the nation, and indeed to humanity, if they can create an environment which encourages consensus-building to help lower the causes of tension within the body politic,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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