The former president John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor has condemned the media for opening itself up to be used by politicians to champion their parochial interest in the name of free speech.
At least three individuals including the executive director of ASEPA, Mensah Thompson and governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) Bono regional chairman Kwame Baffoe popularly known as Abronye DC, are currently being tried in court over statements they made in the media that the police say amount to false publications.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Asaase News, Kufuor said the media has been largely irresponsible in executing their gatekeeping role leading to abuse of free speech in the country.
“Unfortunately, these days, especially in the times of social media, media turns to be too sensational,” the former president said.
“The sort of language one hears on the airwaves will give the impression the media are not yet up to appreciate their civic responsibilities, the social role to safeguard the constitution and uphold the transformational processes to better the lot of the citizenry at large,” Kufuor added.
On the series of coups being witnessed in Africa, Kufuor said the experiences of military takeovers cannot be recommended for any generation to embrace.
Kufuor has, therefore, advised against any attempt to stage a coup in the country or the sub-region.
He said, “coup is not an experience I will recommend for any generation.”
Kufuor said, “I wouldn’t advise anybody to hail a coup d’état. It comes from faceless people you don’t know, who haven’t given anything to keep for you or to manage for you, and they may not even be competent enough to do anything. And if they come, they use an opportunity and come to impose themselves on you and destroy your life. Is this what anybody should want?” he quizzed.
He said coups thrive when some governments tend to lapse and there is misgovernance one way or the other.
Kufuor also said when government’s do not take care of their security arrangements or they don’t show appreciation of the geo-politics of the neighbourhood then a coup might happen.
“Sanctions don’t bite”
He said sanctions of regional bodies like Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and African Union (AU) on coup-makers does not bite and, therefore, are not deterrent enough.
“Coups makers think your sanctions will not bite them economically or politically or socially, so, they just carry on in spite of the declaration of these regional groupings and, so, these associations or groupings must begin to think very seriously on how to give the constitutional provisions the bite so when they say don’t do it and you do it they can get you and so you know perhaps it is not profitable to try it,” he said.
In an advice to heads of state on the continent, Kufuor said, “try to live by your oath to the people because it is the underpinning of good governance.
“If you think the period is too short, use the constitutional means to convince the people to amend the constitution or reform the constitution to lengthen tenure a bit but please don’t play smart and on the eve when you should be stepping down, you say there’s a third term. You do that and you push people into feeling they too can take things into their own hands and do what they mustn’t do.”