Election 2008: Ghana's Security Tricky -- Expert Warns
Ghana should not delude itself that it is living well above mayhem and the deadly clashes that have unfortunately plagued Liberia, La Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya, among other African nations, in the recent past. Indeed, Ghana is sitting on a time bomb whose explosion could erode the relative peace that the country has chalked over the last 15 years of its democratic dispensation.
The respected retired director of the Narcotic Control Board, K. B. Quantson, gave the indication at a round table meeting on the topic: “Towards a Peaceful Election 2008 in Ghana: National Security Environment”, last Thursday in Accra. It was under the auspices of the Center for Democratic Development. “We should note that there are currently issues that are combustible and would ignite, if not properly managed. They relate to chieftaincy, clear or perceived discrimination and selectivity in the criminal justice system- Bawku, Yendi, Tamale, Sewhi and elsewhere. The potential foe settling is ever present,” the security expert said. After observing that the way and manner in which the Dagbon crisis was handled had failed to deal effectively with the tension in that kingdom, Mr Quantson said issues of practical socio economic problems and challenges that can predispose people to negative positions are prevalent. Over the last 50 years or so, Ghanaians have assumed theirs to be a stable country that will remain so, unaffected by the economic, political and social dynamics. But Mr. Quantson says this assumption is “dangerous.” “Security can be ‘fluid’, he warned. “It can willy-nilly be adversely affected by persistent corroding irritants like bad governance, opportunism, intolerance, impunity, corruption and so on. We should assume that things can happen and plan pre-emptive measures.
” Giving further indications that, as Ghana does the last lap towards Election 2008, the socio-political environment is contaminated, K. B. Quantson pointed to the fact that, already, some politicians had started calling the elections, Mother of all elections, Do or die affair, the Alpha and Omega of all elections and the political survival of parties. Alongside these pregnant slogans are actual “open threats of recriminations and counter recriminations-vendetta and vengeance, aggressive and provocative rhetoric accusations of violence by parties against their opponents.” To him, the wild intrusion of money into Ghana’s body politic and the dangers of instigation, manipulation and exploitation by vested interests are real and very near threats. He noted that in the recent past, there have been “wide distribution of monies at the congresses,” warning that could be a source of breach to national security. Clarifying that he was not suggesting there was already drug money in Ghanaian politics, he, nonetheless warned about both the menace of illicit drugs and the monetization of politics.
He recalled how the notorious Columbian drug criminal Pablo Escobar, almost got elected as a legislator to be designated as “Honorable Pablo Escobar.” As further signs of the fact that things are heading in the wrong direction as far as national security is concerned, he observed that recent political party congresses had come under very heavy police and other security services guard. He quipped: “If we need the police to ensure that we are sensible, then there is a great cause of worry.” He gave the impression that Ghana had, as a nation, failed to learn useful lessons from its history. Focusing on political leaders, he advocated that Ghana sends all her politicians to “school because they repeat the same things, the same mistakes.” In view of that, the ex-police officer suggested, “Let’s do a critique of our governments and politicians and list their mistakes to serve as a guideline for the next government.”
Mr Quantson stressed the need for the authorities to handle security issues carefully, with the view to ensuring that there is peace before, during and after the December general election. In that regard, he said, Government should select the best mode of collecting, appreciating and utilizing intelligence reports. “We should guard against the destructive activities of intelligence fabricators and peddlers with sinister, even subversive intentions.” The experienced security man prescribed that intelligence should be actionable; such that, when you have gathered it, you can act on it. It should not be outdated. “I’m not sure there is a system in place for collecting such information.” Above all, he stated categorically that, the future of Ghana’s democracy should reside, more seriously, in vigorous, enlightened, truly patriotic, uncompromisable civil society groups, which can mobilize the nation to police national institutions and structures established to protect national interest. “Evidently some of these institutions and structures have not lived to general expectation.” Source: The Heritage