He said it was creating a situation “that poses an existential threat to our much cherished and protected values and cultural heritage, unity, security and democratic development”.
Mr. Opong-Fosu, who is the Member of Parliament for Amenfi East, expressed the sentiments in an interview with The Ghanaian Times.
“I believe when people choose to participate in a public discourse, the conversation should promote the overall well-being of society,” he said.
The Minister said despite divergent view points based on individuals and group interests it was important that those engagements should be conducted in civility, even if there were disagreements.
“Before the introduction of western democracy, our traditional form of governance had instituted a system of public discourse that respects and gives people the space and freedom from intimidation to express their opinions and beliefs. We still practice this today at community durbars and at deliberations of traditional leadership,” he pointed out.
Mr. Opong-Fosu lamented that the current political environment did not depict such a picture, because instead of constructive engagements, “national conversations have become an arena for insults, smear campaigns, threats and incitement of violence against those who do not share our political beliefs”.
He said in an environment of anger, hate and character assassination, many people’s hard earned reputation had been ruined as many more were nursing the hurts and pains from insults and public ridicule.
“Regrettably, they include distinguished personalities and senior citizens who have worked to build their reputation even beyond the shores of our country, and whose distinction in their endeavours had put this country where it is now,” he said.
Mr. Opong-Fosu further noted that presidents past or present, were the embodiments of pride, dignity and national identity and the collective will of a nation’s march to progress.
“You only have to be at the receiving end or be close to someone you care for or hold high in esteem to appreciate what people go through,” he said.
The Minister said Ghana has long enjoyed world-wide respect and recognition for a political culture that was undergirded by national values such as strong leadership community and inter-dependence, freedom bound by respect for the rights of others, justice for all, integrity, moderate temperament and institutional mediation, among many.
“What is happening now can be likened to a driver who refuses to allow another to overtake him by accelerating at the point of being overtaken. This driver doing the overtaking also refuses to back down, so the two continue to recklessly race towards vehicles from the opposite direction. What do you think would happen?,” he asked.
Mr. Opong-Fosu said “more than ever before, Ghana needs a voice of reason to awaken the country to the looming threats ahead as the 2016 General Elections approach.
“We need this voice of caution to be modest in our temperament, as well as measured in our words and actions,” he cautioned.
He said pillars of society such as the clergy, traditional authorities and distinguished senior citizens should be well placed to play a role in ensuring that civil language was used to discuss issues of public importance.
Mr. Opong-Fosu reiterated the need to stop taking sides with one-sided condemnations, saying “it only leads to heightened suspicion and tension in the country.
“I believe that from our strong pillars of society, we need the voice of reason to remind us that our values as a people, must define our politics and public discourse,” he advised.
He asked the media “to be circumspect in order to become that voice of reason to define the agenda for electioneering communication and political activism”.
By Lawrence Markwei