Growing up as a cowboy from Gambibgo, a humble village seated at the uppermost part of Bolgatanga in the Upper East region of Ghana, and characteristic of every child, I was filled with childhood exuberance and curiosity. I recollect always questioning every taboo and proverb told by the elderly but have mostly not found all the answers I desired.
Either I was told I was too young to comprehend what was being said or that was how it was transcended from their ancestors.
One day, I overheard my grandfather (the late Adabilba-Kolgo of great memory) quote a proverb in a conversation, “an empty calabash cannot sink in a river”.
Unfortunately for me, I failed to probe to fully understand what it meant, but took it upon myself on one faithful afternoon, as naïve as I was, to disapprove this proverb by making the empty calabash sink in the river.
True to it, I applied all the energy in me and forced the empty calabash deeply sunk in the river.
But wait, before I could draw my conclusion from my experiment, luck eluded me …
My hand slipped off the calabash and it popped out with a strong force and directly hit my chin, which was suspended just above the water surface. I felt so much pain, but life continued, but then, I had learnt through the hard way that, “you can force an empty calabash to sink in the river, but it won’t last forever”.
This preamble clearly depicts the true state of governance in Ghana.
One could ponder, endlessly, what it is about political power, in our part of the world, that the holders of it find it more convenient to thrive under oppression, opaqueness and pseudo-impressions, rather than govern on the principles of freedom, truthfulness and transparency.
I have my strong doubts if Abraham Lincoln’s democracy of government of the people, for the people and by the people is what Ghana is practicing currently.
Is Ghana in a state of Insecurity?
‘Walaahitalaahi!’ I am ready to go on a bet with anyone on this… “If one should step onto the streets of Accra today to solicit the opinion of five Ghanaians on whether Ghana is in a state of insecurity or not, you can be assured of earning a slap or two”.
Ghana has recently recorded a surge in daylight robberies, across the country and a widespread incidence of attacks.
So far, in the 1st half of the year, there are reported 4 attacks on bullion vans, not to mention the other forms of robberies. The month of June alone recorded 2 of such attacks within 3-days interval. The 1st attack, which happened on the June, 14 near James Town, resulted in the death of a police officer, whilst the attackers absconded with the cash.
We were further saddled by the attack of one Ibrahim Mohammed, aka Kaaka, on June 26, who subsequently died on June 28.
In fact, his death subsequently triggered the Jun 29 agitations, which resulted in the shooting of armless civilians, where 2 are reported to have died as a result, with 6 sustaining multiple degrees of injuries.
These occurrences are overwhelming and has plunged the entire nation into a state of insecurity.
If at this stage, one is still adamant that Ghana is a safe haven, and not in a state of insecurity, then we have every right to predict either the person is living at the Jubilee house or he or she is obsessed by the spirit of “culture of silence”.
What are the Root Causes of Ghana’s State of Insecurity?
Food, and for that matter, source of livelihood, is identified as the most fundamental human survival need that has a direct bearing on national security. If food is mismanaged and it runs scarce, it breeds hunger, anger and chaos.
It is therefore impossible not to hold political power holders, who have full access to and control over the country’s resources, accountable over the availability or non-availability of this vital human commodity.
How many times haven’t we heard warnings concerning the looming crisis of graduate unemployment in the country and its security implications? Each time these issues are raised, government communicators are always quick to refer one to NABCO and other adhoc government employment initiatives, which they claim were enough to silence their critics. The fact they usually downplay is that, these unsustainable jobs are nothing but mere expectations management policies with expiry dates.
Is it not obvious in our today’s Ghana that, political party cards have become a key license for recruitment of workers into public sector jobs? What the political party holders have mostly forgotten is that there is a section of Ghanaians who do not possess any of those cards and without any government protocol, but are mostly the important determinants on which political party power swings to in every election.
It is always after gaining political power that politicians get the conviction that neutral voters do not exist in the country.
The loud statement that must be made here, therefore, is that, there is a wide section of equally-skilled and talented Ghanaians that are not thriving well under the currently polarised-political-mafia regime. These citizens, also deserve equal access to opportunities to earn a decent living in the country.
If you refuse them equal opportunities to live, they will definitely pay you unannounced visits, but with guns, as we are witnessing.
The emergence of the Fix the Country Movement is not an invention of any political party, as some would want you to believe, but rather, a spontaneous agitation of mostly unemployed Ghanaian youth in response to the deteriorating economic conditions, which is making living unbearable to the majority.
If I am to write about the plight of the Ghanaian youth today, I am not sure I will ever exhaust it in a single piece.
However, to give a snapshot of the state of the Ghanaian youth today, I would say, “thousands have remained unemployed on an average of 5 years, or over, after graduating college and currently under economically-induced-lockdowns, because they cannot even afford the cost of transportation or internet bundle to search and compete for the limited job opportunities.”
In fact, they live each day almost on a lifeline; thinking about where to find their next source of meal.
Their plight of hopelessness gets deepened, progressively, due to the deep-rooted level of corruption and bad governance that the country is currently bedeviled with. Some state officials, who have been entrusted to lead in the management of the country’s resources, to the benefit of all, are resorting to looting the state, at the least provocation with impunity, just to quench their insatiable appetite of acquiring unearned private wealth.
It is rather shameful that, these looters appear to have lost their moral conscience and now gone on to the extent of profiteering out of the COVID 19 pandemic that we are saddled with, where even human life is at stake.
How different is this level of heartlessness, exhibited by our leaders, different from an armed robber who steals, rapes, kills and burn at the same time?
You think the reckless termination of Ghana’s power contract, which led to the award of over 170 million USD judgement debt by the London Commercial Court of international arbitration, against the state, would not further degenerate the economic woes of the state, and for that matter derail its ability to provide any meaningful jobs for the unemployed youth?
These endless political mismanagement is what has translated into our deplorable economic condition, hence, the State’s inability to create decent employment opportunities for the growing youth of the country.
The sad reality remains that, the ordinary citizen will end up bearing the absolute burden of the cost of all these wastefulness, through painful and unbearable taxes and levies imposed on them, by the very people who invented the whole mess.
May be, those who experienced live in the revolutionary days should educate us as to whether the sins of the victims of the earlier regimes of Coup D’ etat were graver than we are witnessing today?
As far as the woes of our state of insecurity is concern, it is rather sad that we have been compelled into discussing a recurring monster that we are already familiar with.
Security analysts have exhausted all the technical arguments around the ills of Ghana’s security architecture, whose recommendations have always been thrown into the gutters.
How many times haven’t we heard of the need for a constitutional review to decouple the security apparatus from the direct control and manipulation by the executive arm of government to give it the requisite autonomy to fight crime dispassionately.
One would be quick to ask, “why have successive executive regimes so relaxed at relinquishing its authority in the appointment of the IGP?” At whose interest or benefit does the presidency seek to serve so much so that we have now run into arears of time as far as that call for this constitutional review is concern.
It is quite obvious that the security apparatus, under the current political arrangements, is now obsolete and is only being abused by the government of the day to serve the interest of a selfish few above the national interest.
Can we be too wrong, therefore, to conclude that; the recent state of insecurity, as it is in the country, is nothing short of an invention by the political manipulators for the suppression of the masses; the real owners of the power on whose behalf they are serving?
What are the solutions to Ghana’s State of Insecurity?
Over the years, Security Analysts have proposed several political reforms geared at giving more independence to the country’s security force, so as to embolden it to serve the interest of the state above others. That is definitely a call in the right direction. When this is fully attained, we can be assured that the flawed security recruitment mechanisms, that is usually hijacked by the ruling political party of the day, if not cured completely, would be mitigated.
It is rather strange, that, the president of the Republic, after failure to implement the Emile Short’s Commission report, which was perceived as more independent and credible, would now rather resort to a relatively political commission to probe the Ejura incidence, which claimed the lives of armless agitated civilians. Is it not a wasteful attempt, by the state, to cover up a mess, caused by the same superintendents who, rather, should be resigning over their failure?
Well, as patriotic citizens, one can only wish them well…
Others have also given their propositions, in contribution to our state of insecurity, with most only focused on addressing the symptoms to the problem.
However, as a street writer, I strongly believe that when these reforms do not influence the bread and butter issues, it may make little or no relevance.
The first thing we need to do is to encourage active citizenship in governance and decision making at all levels in the country.
Governance, should be considered a serious business by all citizens, since it depicts who has access and control over the country’s resources. The proper management or otherwise of our limited resources poses direct implications on the economic conditions of the country. It is rather unfortunate that most citizens, perceive voting during elections, as an end to their civic duty. It is time we correct these misconceptions and entreat all to get off the fence and “be citizens and not spectators”, as was paradoxically charged by the president some time ago.
It is the civic responsibility of the citizens to ensure that the authorities are held to account in the management of the resources and demand for an equitable distribution of the resource for the benefit of all, in accordance with the stipulated laws of the land.
To achieve this, citizens must be encouraged to develop interest in development issues at the community, local and the national level, which will equip them to participate, effectively, in contributing and shaping national level discuss.
This is not to dispute the existence of the big monster referred to as “the culture of silence”, which can be conveniently likened to the empty calabash that we have forcefully kept sunk in the river.
The first thing we need to understand, as citizens, is that, silence is the invincible weapon deployed by the oppressor to perpetrate its evil deeds. If this culture of silence is allowed to fester, we can be assured it is definitely not going to be the solution to the threat of our insecurity problem.
Many of us perceive the recent shooting and killing, by the military, of armless civilians at Ejura, who were merely agitating over the brutal murder of their colleague, as another attempt by the state, to deflate the momentum built by The Fix the Country Movement, after its failed attempt at sustaining the perpetual injunction on the impending demonstration.
Martin Luther king Jnr. once said, “In the end, we shall not remember our enemies, but the silence of those who should have spoken”.
Our battle to build a resilient and stable democratic state, with opportunities for all, would have been lost the very day we succumb to this monster called, “culture of silence”.
All meaning citizens must be encouraged to;
- speak truth to power when the need be;
- join credible political movements like Fix-the-country Movement, in exercising their displeasure when things go wrong,
- and form unionised bodies and advocacy networks to fight all forms of exploitation and political injustice in every part of the society.
This, indeed, is the surest way of ensuring that the oppressors do not dissipate off the limited natural resources, in an irresponsible manner, as it is currently the case, to the disadvantage of the masses and deprive the future generation their means of existence.
It is normally alluded that when you push a goat to the wall, it will turn and bite you. But I ask, “what if the goat, in question, is ignorant about it’s potential to bite?”
That goat definitely needs some level of conscientisation to do the needful when the need arises.
In fact, on a countless occasion, Ghanaians have been push to the wall, into the wall and through the wall, but have always let sleeping dogs lie.
That is the reason many are of the popular opinion that, “Ghanaians are not angry enough”.
Well, the dangers of not being “angry enough”, when we should be, is that, these agitations are accumulated and compounded over time, but, …
“how long can we keep the empty calabash sunk in the river?”.
My ultimate inspiration to write is to strive for social change.
By Anthony Agee-kum (Kostodian)
Contact: +233 546 440530