President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has made a passionate appeal to journalists, political commentators and the Ghanaian population at large, not to abuse the prevailing atmosphere of free speech in the country as any such mishandling could lead to a negative impact on the territorial integrity of the nation.
Ghana is noted for its vibrant media landscape and its endorsement of freedom of expression particularly under the Fourth Republican Constitution which has been in force for the past twenty-nine (29) years. However, recent developments of disinformation and misinformation on the country’s media space has been a source of worry for many well-meaning Ghanaians.
Addressing Muslim faithful at the National Mosque of Ghana Complex at Nima, today the 20th of July 2021, to commemorate Eid ul-Adha celebrations in Ghana, President Akufo-Addo says although he and his administration are firm believers of free speech, the entire country must however, be mindful of the fact that unguided utterances could compromise the security of the state as witnessed in other parts of the African continent such as Rwanda.
I am a firm supporter of free speech. The government I lead is also a firm supporter of free speech, amply evidenced by the culture of free speech prevailing in the country. However, we must all bear in mind that words can be as incendiary as guns. The Bible tells us that “death and life are in the power of the tongue”. All it took was the mating of words by an irresponsibly journalist amplified by the power of radio to ignite the tragic genocide in Rwanda,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“It is important for all of us to recognize that there is only one country we call home and that is Ghana. We must protect our way of life, in the words of the national pledge, ‘with all our strength and with all our hearts.’ We should not allow the actions and utterance of a few misguided persons to jeopardize and destroy the united Ghana we currently possess, which is the envy of many on the continent and in the world,” the President added.
In his address, President Akufo-Addo noted with concern, the recent increase in numbers of infected cases, as far as the COVID-19 circumstances of the state is concerned. According to the Ghana Health Service COVID-19 online portal, (www.ghanahealthservice.org/covid19), there are three thousand, one hundred and twenty-four (3,124) active cases in the country as at today, the 20th of July 2021 and sadly, eight hundred and fifteen (815) persons have lost their lives as a result of the pandemic.
Overall, ninety-nine thousand, one hundred and sixty (99,160) cases have been recorded since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country in March 2020 and some ninety-five thousand, two hundred and twenty-one (95,221) persons have thankfully recovered from the viral infection. The new infections over the reporting period is at an alarming rate of three hundred and forty-three (343).
“As we continue to count on the Grace of God to protect our country from the ravages of the pandemic like we have done since its outbreak, we can only minimize its health effects and avoid a full blown third wave if we continue to be responsible and observe the safety and hygiene protocols,” the President said.
“The recent increase in the number of infections is a source of worry for me and indeed a source of worry for all Ghanaians. From the rising numbers, it is safe to concluded that we let our guard down and we are beginning to live our lives and conduct our business as though we are in normal times. It is important to repeat that the virus is still with us and until each and every one of us receives a double dose of the vaccine, the protocols must continue to be a part and parcel of our daily activities,” Akufo-Addo further indicated.
Eid Al-Adha, the ‘festival of sacrifice’ commemorates the prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to God. It is the second significant religious festival of Islam. The first of the two observances is Eid al-Fitr, which was observed in May to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
During the festival of Eid al-Adha, Muslims acknowledge the devotion of Ibrahim, who was willing to sacrifice his son, Ismail, under the order of Allah SWT (God). Ibrahim, also known as Abraham, is a prominent figure in Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
President Akufo-Addo in his remarks, congratulated the Muslim community as they celebrate Eid Al-Adha. He called on all Muslims to emulate the example of the Prophet Mohammed and to sacrifice for the building of the Ghana we all want.
By: Wilberforce A. Asare