Former President John Dramani Mahama has asked Ghanaians to condemn the closure of radio stations by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, as the world marks World Press Freedom today [Sunday, May 3, 2020].
“Let us rise up and speak against the dictatorial withdrawal of radio frequencies and closure of radio stations by the government of Nana Akufo-Addo,” the former President said in a statement.
Mr. Mahama said the occasion also requires Ghanaians to demand that government “stops paying lip services to the Right to Information Act.”
Comparing the performance of the media under his tenure to President Nana Addo’s, the former President said the media had slumped seven places on the global ranking and lost the first spot in Africa to Namibia and Cape Verde.
“We have unfortunately lost this priceless status that made all of us very proud. This should worry us- not only journalists and media owners but all of us, as citizens and as Ghanaians,” Mr Mahama said.
The former President further pointed out that “just as the press performs a civic service to all of us, we [Ghanaians] also have a civic duty towards it- namely, to always defend and be ready to fight for the freedom of the press.”
Reporters Without Borders in its ranking released in 2019 saw Ghana losing its spot as one of the best-ranked countries for press freedom.
The drop was attributed mainly to the murder of investigative journalist Ahmed Hussein-Suale earlier in 2019.
Globally, the country dropped from 23 in 2018 to 27 in 2019.
Apart from Ghana’s performance on world rankings, some have suggested that the closure of radio stations by the government further suppresses media freedom in Ghana.
In 2019, two media houses affiliated to the National Democratic Congress(NDC) – Radio XYZ and Radio Gold were shut down for various infractions.
The NCA recently also suspended the authorisation of Radio Tongu on the grounds of national security and the public interest.
The decision led to an unspecified number of arrests and the seizure of equipment after the Tongu Community Multimedia Network (Radio Tongu) in the Volta Region “illegally” resumed operations.