Thursday, September 24, 2009

Knowing Sufficient To Be Afraid

I am not a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), but one of my friends called me during one of the midnight usual free night calls.

He sounded scared, and he had good reasons to be so. He had just seen the very gory pictures from the violence that broke out at the Kokomba Market one Tuesday afternoon and he was panicking. I could understand his panic.

It is not everyday that people are butchered in broad daylight on the streets of Accra in the presence of the police. In fact, it is an unheard off for people to loose their lives right in front of the police, yet it took place that Tuesday.Strangely, as he cautioned that the NDC government should be careful, I wondered why he directed that question at me. After all, I am not the NDC government, and indeed he knows that I am a rather hard critic of the NDC in government, so why address his concerns to me? Apparently, it appears he might have seen enough to be afraid of.

At this point in time, all of us should know enough to be afraid of, to justify know we are not living in happy times. We live in times where the police can stand back and watch as senior politicians are beaten and manhandled and lesser humans butchered! These are not ordinary times. We should know enough to be afraid of!
I hear two of my colleagues from the Daily Guide were threatened, are we going back to the dark days? Somebody tell me.

Recently, a Regional Police Commander in our country was politically victimized by an idiot who, excuse my language, if it had not been for politics, would never have aspired to where the Police Commander has reached in his chosen career. When that matter first came up, few people realized the significance, but the police themselves realized the true significance. The message was drummed home to them that it would be suicidal, career-wise, to take on any member of the political status quo.

This is why the atrocities at Akwatia and Agbobloshie happened. The police were too scared to intervene, brutally speaking, because to intervene may lead to political repercussions for the careers of the interfering officers.

The violence at Agbobloshie should make all of us to pause for a moment and reflect if this is the path we intend to tread. It should also give us reason to ponder, as to what is going wrong in our country.Before election 2008, a number of people, led by Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr, constantly told the people of Ghana that there were at least three hundred potential flashpoints in our country waiting to boil up into full-scale violence. Since Pratt and co assisted the NDC to come to power, however, they have brought the noise about the flashpoints to a close.

At the same time, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Police Intelligence Unit and the National Security apparatus, instead of concentrating on their core functions, among which is keeping an eye on potential trouble spots, have rather concentrated on useless ventures like hounding former government officials, seizing vehicles and toilets. In the process the core functions of these agencies have been left to lapse.

The Kokomba Market is veritable hotbed of agitation of all kinds, and off necessity, the security and spy agencies should have kept an eye on it.

Still on the police, I come to one Madam Rose Bio-Atinga, the woman in charge of policing in the Greater Accra region. When Mr. Paul Tawiah Quaye was appointed as the Inspector General of Police, one of his first decisions was to appoint her to head the capital.

But since coming to Accra, I have come to observe her with great concern. This woman is worse than a man in her level of disrespect for democratic principles. Let me cite two instances why I think she is heartless and a person who has scant respect for democratic principles. First, it was this woman who had reasons to frustrate a peaceful demonstration by the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) of which am a sympathizer.

The second is what happened at Kokomba Market. According to our commander, the slaughter did not happen at a police station, yet there were enough evidence to show that the killing happened opposite a police station in the capital city of Accra in broad daylight with the police looking on.

Worse, it has been established that the Regional Commander was informed, ahead of the event, that violence was possible at the place where it happened, but she drove away the people who came to make the report at her office. Clearly, this woman is not suited for modern policing, and probably she ought to be rested or re-oriented on what modern policing is all about.The third point I want to raise is the issue of security in general. I have heard some people saying that the Kokomba slaughter should not be politicized. They are right. It would be unseemly to try to score political advantage with the killing of people. Interestingly, the people making this noise are the same people who made so much political capital out of the death of the Ya Na and Alhaji Issah Mobilla.But the worse is yet to come. Providing adequate security is a policy issue. I supported Dr. Ndoum during the elections but he never provided a policy on policing or may be I did not see it and so was the party in power.

Nana Addo, the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) candidate and a proud Akyem like myself, promised to put 50, 000 police officers on our streets. However, the ruling NDC government is rather implementing a policy of non-recruitment.

In a few words, the people managing our security today have defective policy direction and should be changed. In the meantime, the few police officers we have are being terrorized to be afraid of independent thought and initiative. In the process, instead of acting on emergencies, they look over their shoulders.

We should be afraid indeed!