Professor Ransford Gyampo, an associate professor at the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana has dismissed claims suggesting the country has returned to the “culture of silence”. He was reacting to comments made by business mogul Sir Sam Jonah that the country has gradually slipped back to the era where citizens could not speak truth to power.
“It appears to me that the culture of silence has returned. This time not to be enforced by legal and military power but through convenience, parochialism, hypocrisy and lack of conviction. Where are our Adu Boahens and PAV Ansahs?” Sir Jonah asked.
His comment has sparked mixed reaction in the media.
Reacting to the claims, Prof Gyampo said Sir Jonah did not paint the right picture.
“On the issue of culture of silence, we must present a holistic and accurate picture. The few daring Ghanaians who speak their minds haven’t been gagged. They receive threatening texts and insults by some cowards and faceless people. But they are still talking, with some, even insulting freely and irresponsibly. Actually, I know of a few very critical minds, who still enjoy police protection 24/7. I do not know of any vociferous political critic who has suddenly shut up because of the culture of silence,” he posted on Facebook.
Below is the full post
First 100 Days in Government and Culture of Silence
1.In the first 100 days of the first term of President Akufo Addo’s government, there was zeal. There were palpable initiatives that could tangibly be reported and determination to govern. However, the same cannot be said about the current first 100 days. Apart from the zeal of the Greater Accra Regional Minister to make Accra work again and the recent stakeholder event to discuss the menace of illegal mining, it appears that government has hit the ground not running but sleeping.
2. Deputy ministers who were only recently appointed are yet to be vetted. MMDCEs are yet to be appointed and dissolved governing boards and councils are yet to be reconstituted. But in his previous term, the President constituted his government in a record time and indicated that he was in a hurry to deliver.
3. Is the NPP Government no longer interested in the 2024 elections? The sense of urgency that characterized President Akufo Addo’s first 100 days in his first term, appears lacking in his second term. Unfortunately, typical of this particular NPP government, there is no attempt to communicate the reasons for such slow pace and delay in hitting the ground running. To improve the quality of governance, we must ensure that there is no difference between first term zeal and second term zeal.
4. There is a growing perception by some Ghanaians and some top echelons within the ruling party that suggests that the present slow pace of government is largely as a result of the fact that the President isn’t eligible to contest the next election. This position may not be accurate.. But suffice it to say that governance of a developing country like Ghana, must be shaped more by the plight of the people, and less by the eligibility of Presidents to contest future elections.
5.On the issue of culture of silence, we must present a holistic and accurate picture. The few daring Ghanaians who speak their minds haven’t been gagged. They receive threatening texts and insults by some cowards and faceless people. But they are still talking, with some, even insulting freely and irresponsibly. Actually, I know of a few very critical minds, who still enjoy police protection 24/7. I do not know of any vociferous political critic who has suddenly shut up because of the culture of silence.
6. But it is also true that apart from the political sector, our educational, health and other social sectors continue to be plagued with some vestiges of culture of silence. Many medical practitioners refuse to talk about the plight confronting medical care in Ghana. I met a Medical Superintendent at a hospital who narrated very harrowing challenges of his hospital to me. I asked a media guy to put a camera on him so we could record what he had told me off-camera. Once the camera was turned on, he turned around to rather shower praises on the Ministry of Health in a manner than forced me to cut the recording. When I asked why he did what he did, he retorted “Do you want me to be transferred?”. Similar things happen in almost all the educational institutions, particularly at the SHS level, where teachers and head teachers keep complaining about challenges of the free SHS system and yet plead anonymity for the fear of being transferred to some remote villages. These are clear cases of manifestation of the culture of silence, which never existed.
7. But it must also be pointed out that many Ghanaians, long before the NPP government came into existence had practiced the culture of “y3 p3 as3m nso y3 suro as3m”. We like to talk and grumble, but only behind the scene. This is so typical of us. We complain privately and when given the chance to ventilate our grievances for redress, we tend to give the matter to God. We cannot blame this on the NPP government. It is who we are. We hide under the facelessness of social media to critique and insult. Yet when we meet those we are criticizing and insulting face to face, we sing their praises. This is what we do. It is who we are. We cannot gossip about others and refuse to tell them in their face and yet blame government for introducing a culture of silence.
8. This isn’t also to say that the NPP government has been very tolerant of dissenting views to the core. There’s been open and more surreptitious show of intolerance and vindictiveness by SOME (not all) party and government functionaries, in a manner that has sometimes scared brave critics and made those who want to join in keeping the regime on its toes think twice. But this hasn’t stopped those who really want to talk from talking. Besides, moves to silence critics may not necessarily be officially sanctioned by any political party. Hence any argument that talks about our return to the dark days of the culture of silence, must be properly nuanced to consider all angles, so we can know where the real challenges are.
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