Former President Jerry John Rawlings has stressed the need for the protection of journalists in every way possible.
According to him, the profession was saddled with many dangers, especially at the time that truth had lost its value and had been replaced with vain threats from higher authorities.
“Without truth we can’t develop and we can’t move ahead. Idealism would be partially crucified,” he stressed.
Mr Rawlings made the call when the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) paid a courtesy call on him at his office in Accra.
The call was to invite the Former President to the GJA Awards slated for November 23, to draw from his rich experience and counsel, and to solicit his support against the assault of Journalists.
Mr Rawlings charged Journalists to display a positive defiance even in the face of present hard times, adding that they should find a way to collaborate amongst themselves to derive strength so that they won’t compromise.
Journalists should report on issues with integrity
He urged journalists to report on issues with integrity, which is in line with the Ghanaian culture and tradition.
He said the culture and language exalted integrity and such high values should be reflected when communicating in English.
Politicians and businessmen as owners in the media
According to him, the practice where politicians and businessmen are the owners in the media landscape makes it difficult for journalists to hold such persons to proper account.
Mr Rawlings said politicians and businessmen are “now owning your [journalists] voice,” and urged media practitioners to find a way to deal with the challenge.
“How are you going to fight them? I don’t know but you have to try. You have to work hard at it,” he said.
No transparency in the education system
Mr Rawlings expressed worry over the absence of transparency in the education system where females often fell victims to sexual advances from lecturers in return for good grades.
“Destroy merits means killing idealism in the youth and giving high grades to undeserving students means lowering standards,” he said.
External body to verify the grades of students
He called for the creation of an external body to verify the grades of students at the tertiary level to make sure that students were awarded degrees based on hard work and not personal influences.
GLC’s blame game
The Former President holds the view that the General Legal Council (GLC) cannot blame students who sat for the Ghana School of Law’s (GSL) entrance examinations for the mass failure.
According to him, the examining body of the law students cannot put all the blame on the students and get away with the issue of the 93% failure it recorded in the recent exams.
Out of the over 1800 students who sat for the 2019 GSL entrance exams, only 128 passed, which represented seven per cent.
Mass failures can destroy the future of the youth
Mr Rawlings said such incidents of mass failures could destroy the future of the youth, and “by destroying merit, you are killing the fire of idealism in the youth.”
He said it was worrying that the aggrieved law students in their demonstration to protest the mass failure were faced with water cannons and rubber bullets by the security agencies.
According to him, “We are behaving like we don’t use our brains well” as a nation, looking at how some things are done in the country.
Mr Afail Monney, the President of GJA, said journalism in the country had been instrumental from precolonial, colonial and the present era and that all government who had ruled benefited from the works of Journalists.
He said Journalism was a call and it was the fourth valuable profession in every society following the clergy, lawyers and doctors.
“Therefore, an attack on Journalists was a direct attack on our democracy,” he added.
He said the Award was to honour Journalists who had worked tirelessly over the years for the growth of the nation.