Former Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, has revealed in his book, ‘Working With Rawlings’ that The Chronicle newspaper was set up by the defunct Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).
According to him, ‘’the repeal of the Newspaper Licensing Law was a bonanza for media practitioners. Led by the trailblazing Chronicle newspaper whose establishment ironically was funded by the PNDC……’’
He noted that, despite the PNDC funding the newspaper, Chronicle’s editor, Kofi Coomson, aided by feature writers including Professor P.A.V. Ansah and Justice J.N.K. Taylor, spared no words in their disparagement of Rawlings, with Professor Ansah once going as far as to write in reference to Rawlings that: ‘’Na nso nananom mpow mu, se wonnye wo mu a, na nso wo nta wo mu’’? (But the sacred grove of the ancestors, if you cannot defecate in it, can you not flatulate in it’’?)
Talking about Rawlings and the media, Professor Ahwoi said ‘’Jerry Rawlings and the AFRC could be said to have been quite tolerant of the media. In the period that the AFRC was in power in 1979 and there was only the state-owned media to contend with, he claimed that the PNDC allowed a fair measure of criticism of the Council and its policies. They appointed a ‘critic’ like Elizabeth Ohene as the Acting Editor of the Daily Graphic and even when Ms. Ohene wrote a very damning editorial against the Council titled ‘’Them and Us’’, they maintained her in office until the Council departed office on 24th September 1979.
Professor Ahwoi said Rawlings and the PNDC were earlier not so tolerant, however, of media criticism and for some time after the 31st December revolution, the state-owned media operated like the propaganda wing of the PNDC.
The anti-media stance of Rawlings and the PNDC, according to Professor Ahwoi, reached its peak with the enactment of the Newspaper Licensing Law, 1989, PNDCL 211.
He said it was not surprising that the repeal of PNDCL 211 became one of the cardinal demands of civil society organization as one of the pre-conditions for a peaceful transition to constitutional rule.
‘’The PNDC eventually gave into this demand with the enactment of the National Media Commission Law, 1992, PNDCL 299, section 24 of which stated that: ‘’The Newspaper Licensing Law, 1989, PNDCL 211, is hereby repealed.