Professor Audrey Gadzekpo

Dean of the School of Information and Communication Studies of the University of Ghana, has urged Ghanaians to hold President Akufo-Addo to his commitment to ensuring press freedom.

The President in his speech at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) on May 29, at a ceremony held to confer an honorary doctorate degree on him, debunked claims of a perceived culture of silence.

“A radio station is currently running a campaign against Free SHS. During the last election, I got the impression that Free SHS was endorsed by all parties and all that was needed to do was keep improving it. Would a spirited defence of Frees SHS constitute an attack on press freedom? I wonder,” he said on Saturday.

On the back of this, Prof Audrey Gadzekpo finds it “very reassuring that the President in his speech is reassuring Ghanaians of the government’s commitment to press freedom and we can hold him to that.”

Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, Prof Audrey Gadzekpo indicated that though there is the perception that “there is a price to pay if you are too overtly critical of the government, it is not just media people who pay the price I imagine.”

“It’s people who have certain aspirations, people who work in certain places. But I do think that sort of instinct has always been there,” she told Host Evans Mensah.

According to her, many critics have coiled up in their shells due to the perception that “one would have to pay the price for speaking out.”

This, she said has made people more cautious of their comments in public.

She, however, noted that citizens must be encouraged to voice out instead of remaining silent.

“Why do you think we have whistleblower laws? You know when people speak up in corporations, including Mr Sam Jonah’s Corporation, there are all these cultures of silence that can spring up and we need to encourage people to speak up more,“ she said.

She added that “I think that I sense a certain frustration from the President’s speech that sometimes when politicians push back at criticisms robustly, it is seen as silencing and he thinks that, that is unfair because if you are criticised, you have the right to defend yourself, you have the right to come back.

“What you don’t have the right to do, and I think in the President’s speech he affirms it, is to attack people, you know? To go pick up people in the middle of the night and those things, which we associated with the culture of silence.”

The Associate Professor of the School of Information and Communication Studies further disagreed that the country is living in an era of culture of silence pointing out that the notion of culture of silence is perceived and not real.