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A Dangerous road to Ghana’s gun democracy

Wed, 25 May 2016 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

The road to Ghana’s gun democracy is likely a civil war, or subversion of the relatively peaceful unitary nation-state. Yet peace is not a guaranteed quantity, a given—in geopolitical relations.

This is no apocalyptic augury.

Rather, it is a speculative conclusion borne out of statistical, anecdotal, and sociological actualities. This is not surprising given Ghana as a lawless country with many laws.

There is a school of thought that believes Ghana is uniquely placed as a wobbling banana republic with no functioning ambulatory “head.”

And when the “head” is not functioning as it necessarily should—the organismic systems of the body politic correspondingly lose that functional homeostasis of social, economic and political [balance].

Ghana has not reached that apocalyptic destination of anarchy and nihilism yet, though that stational destiny appears to be in the offing—somehow.

Again, the largely negative perception that the sociology of armed conflict is possible in a false-positive peaceful country like Ghana is not a stratospheric lazy guess. This negative perception borders not on surreal stupidity.

It is rooted in the sociology of social, intelligence, and political facts. Once again the enabling barometer of sociological actualities point to that hazy stational destiny of a likely anarchism of some sort.

Rising youth unemployment and the increasing rate of sakawa among the youth, armed robbery, political corruption, proliferation of sanctimonious religionism and religious fanaticism, greed and materialism, social decay, bureaucratic dictatorship, extreme partisan politics, judicial and examination malpractices…constitute a few of the myriad of problems plaguing the country.

A country that takes after a giant public toilet than a responsible republic!

Why can cynicism, nihilistic hopelessness and restlessness, destructive premonitions of the ever-sleeping nation-state not undermine the public trust in such a fermented “headless” body politic?

Rising unemployment, though a national problem that cannot always be surgically traced to the doorstep of the nation-state, is fast giving way to the entrenchment of social vices of every kind—organized crime, accelerative erosion of collective responsibility and solidarity, hatred of the personalized self and of the collective self, lack of respect for laws and bureaucratic structures, and more generally—an unmistakably paralyzing hatred for social order and its brutalizing consequences.

Such is the society we have hopelessly and helplessly become—and will continue to be if we do not reverse these negative trends.

It is in such a morally fragile—if not bankrupt—sorry environ, a brainchild of Ghana’s winner-takes-all duopoly which the crooked leadership of the terminally-cancerous body politic nurtures—that organized crime such as gunrunning booms.

Put in another way, our kind of winner-takes-all duopoly also potentially feeds the entrepreneurial politics of gunrunning.

Our porous borders and corrupt security and immigration officers stationed at the borders provide additional incentives for the entrepreneurial politics of gunrunning to flourish.

We also cannot gloss over the role of local manufacturers and assayers—of guns and weapons—and middlemen in the proliferation of illegal weapons.

The frightening concept of the opposition NPP secretly bringing in mercenaries from Serbia and South Africa to train civilians for possible armed conflict, as it were disguised as a convenient expression of partisan politics, offers another interesting perspective into the dangerous politics of mind games.

It reminds us of White America—principally white supremacists—stockpiling every weapon under sun as the Obama campaign and presidency gained traction.

But the scandalous brouhaha that greeted this NPP’s abortive move from the NDC camp does not, in and of itself, mean the NDC has not also been secretly doing something similar.

Common sense and pragmatism dictate that strategic and tactical move for reasons of self-preservation.

Or that the NDC will not fail to turn the strategic operational instruments of state security and the intelligence community to its exclusive advantage. Niccolo Machiavelli called it “political realism.”

Yet, there is also some evidence that some of the appropriate authorities tasked with safeguarding public security are not taking the proliferation of arms into the country with the seriousness it deserves. It is a grave national issue, a worrying trend that needs reversing.

Here, listen attentively to Jones Borteye Applerh of the Small Arms Commission speak some facts:

“The Commission did a study on the level of small arms proliferation in Ghana and 2.3 million weapons were found to be in civilian hands. What bothers us now is why Kumasi has become an attraction for assault weapons.

“One of the triggers for weapons [movement] in West Africa is elections. Any country going into elections must be extremely watchful. Most of these vigilante groups sell their services to anyone who’s interested, including the politicians.”

Of course, there is not much we can say at this point as we are not certainly privy to the methodology used, how the Commission managed to determine how and why and which Ghanaians came to possess these arms in the first place and how it reached its general conclusions, whether or not the arms were acquired legally, and whether there was and still is substantial reason(s) to cite elections as one of the principal driving or motivating factors for those Ghanaian to acquire arms, among several others.

For instance:

What do the numbers say about the other areas or zones the Commission surveyed?

What are some of the other reason(s) beyond elections that pushed those Ghanaians to acquire arms in the first?

Did those members of the Commission who carried out the research have stockpiles of small arms or assault weapons themselves and if so, did they obtain them illegally or legally and whether they included theirs in their data?

How did the commission normalize or standardize the population sample sizes it used for useful, pragmatic inter-zonal or inter-regional comparison?

What is the crime rate for each of the zones or regions studied?

Are those Ghanaians using the arms for hunting, self-protection, organized crime or a combination of these?

If those surveyed acquired the arms illegally, what did the Commission do in terms of alerting the appropriate authorities?

The questions are nearly “infinite.” We are hereby referring to data collection and analysis, and their quality.

Nevertheless, we shall not dismiss these observations out of hand because what we may have read in the media could as well be a cautious synopsis of survey research minus the nitty-gritties of hard numbers.

Sometimes the public becomes allergic to numbers.

We will therefore give the Commission the benefit of the doubt.

This Commission’s observations if true and we have no doubt that they may have a kernel of truth, is cause for alarm.

But Ghana’s lackadaisical bureaucracies are more likely to brush aside this sensitive national security matter than take the trouble to dig into it, nib it in the bud, and effect the arrest of the perpetrators behind the criminal syndication of gunrunning in the country. Here is how Mohammed Tanko, the Regional PRO of the Politic Command in the Ashanti Region, put it not too long ago:

“We do not have any concrete evidence that there are a lot of weapons that have been piled upon this region…I do not know of any vigilante groups operating in the Ashanti Region. But if, indeed, we have such group working with sophisticated weapons, then, it is a very dangerous development.

“But the Ashanti Regional Police is not sleeping. We do a lot of intelligence gathering and mount various operations. If there were any vigilante groups, by the level of our intelligence, we would be able to pick the signals and deal with them. However, we are not ruling it out, so, if there is anyone with information on any such groups and they bring it to us we will be happy.”

“No evidence of weapon stockpiling in the Ashanti Region,” Tanko seems to be implying.

So, how then did the Small Arms Commission get its data and how did it come to the conclusion Tanko is unconvincingly trying so hard to refute?

In other words, where is the synergy?

It appears both Tanko and the Commission inhabit a world of mutual exclusivity!

And do the vigilante groups have to be in Kumasi? Could they be the Azorka Boys, the Kandahar Boys, the Bolga Boys, and the Invincible Forces? And Paa Kwesi Nduom’s yet-to-form Sea Lions? Anyway, how far is Accra from Kumasi? And Bolgatanga from Kumasi?

If South Africans and Serbian mercenaries can travel all the way from their respective countries to Ghana, what prevents these native vigilante groups from traveling from their respective locations within the country to Kumasi?

Let us just add that, it will not come as a major surprise to us if some of these political parties, especially the NPP and the NDC, are actually behind the spate of armed robberies in the nation, another “profitable” means to generate funds to support their campaigns and electioneering platforms.

Now let us turn our attention to another writer:

“The officials of the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) seem to be always busy chasing after political opponents, in order to settle old scores than to worry much about armed robbery situation in the country….Recent revelation of some corrupt law enforcement officials’ involvement in many of the armed robbery operations in the country.”

Rafak R. Nartey, the author to whom we attribute the aforementioned quote, goes on to elaborate upon some of our security officers taking bribes from these criminal syndicates thereby hampering strategically organized conceited efforts at extirpating armed robbery in the body politic.

He also touches on the complex issue of judicial corruption and how it, too, adds up to the insurmountable mountain of difficulty of fighting armed robbery and other gun-related crimes due to bribery-induced arbitrary carriage of justice where armed robbers with deep pockets are involved (see Nartey’s article for some useful, practical suggestions on fighting armed robbery, etc).

GHANAIAN POLITICIANS AND DRUGS

In the publication “Politicians Behind Drugs In Ghana—NACOB Boss,” Yaw Akrasi Sarpong makes the following claims (see modernghana, May 23, 2016):

“Many people who are mobilized for large scale demonstrations on the spur of the moment…particularly to play politics [are all under the influence of] alcohol and marijuana…

“If any politician will use alcohol and marijuana or not necessarily use them or know people who will normally, for being daring, go and smoke marijuana and drink akpeteshie on top or go and take Atemudaor Jordan or Under, that is a very dangerous situation.

“‘In this country, we have seen a politician of a ruling party arrested for drugs before,’ he cited as one of the hypocritical stance of politicians, stressing that his colleagues justified his wealth by saying the politician in question provided bicycles for his constituents.

“All that it means is that people know people involved in drugs whose monies in one way or the other helps in somebody’s campaign. And that is very dangerous.”

This is why have consistently asked that the heads of our politicians be closely examined or checked for mental disorders before the longsuffering public allows them to assume political office.

FINAL THOUGHTS

An allegation recently made by William Adamudzi, a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to the extent that the NPP is “importing guns and other offensive weapons into the country with the aim of leading an uprising after they are defeated in the general elections” is outrageous, neither here nor there.

Worst of all, such unguarded statements give the NPP an impression that the NDC is going to rig the elections! Where is Adamudzi’s evidence that the NPP is going to lose the general elections anyway and that the NDC is going to retain the presidency and its parliamentary majority?

Again, where is his evidence that the NPP is importing arms into the country? Has the BNI invited him in yet to share any intelligence he may have had in connection with his allegation? Why is the country under the leadership of the NDC doing such a poor job of picking up intelligence on opposition-funded gunrunning in the country—if we are to believe Adamudzi?

More generally—what are the appropriate authorities: The BNI, immigration and customs, the army, and the police—doing to arrest the problem of gunrunning with the NDC in power?

If the NDC government is serious it would not allow the opposition NPP to sneak weapons into the country, to threaten its comfortable incumbency or for the opposition NPP to employ armed conflict to wrestle power from it [the NDC].

Here we are rather pushed to hypothesize that the NDC could be importing the said arms into the country, then blaming them on the NPP and incurring public disaffection for the opposition.

In fact, we should not put this hypothesis past the NDC. Both the NDC and the NPP are in love with Machiavelli’s “political realism.” And both do not deserve Ghanaians and their future. It is time for both to vacate the political landscape for new, untried and untested hands at governance.

A big national security problem like gunrunning and both of them have made the emotional playfields of political football—partisan politics.

Let a civil war break out and then let us see whether it is the NDC and the NPP, political organizations known for their duopolistic stupidities and uncaring posturing, rather than Ghana that will likely be destroyed for their selfish, unpatriotic objectives! Is Ghana not bigger than them?

REFERENCES

Ghanaweb. “NPP Importing Arms And Ammunition—NDC Chairman.” May 18, 2016.

Ghanaweb. “Police Intercept 32 Boxes Of Ammunition.” May 17, 2016.

Ghanaweb. “US-Based Ghanaian Accused Of Trying To Smuggle Guns To Ghana.” February 19, 2016.

Ghanaweb. “Man Smuggling Guns To Ghana Faces 20 Years.” February 19, 2016.

Ghanaweb. “Kumasi Arms Cache Belong To Ivoirians—Police.” December 14, 2015.

Ghanaweb. “No Evidence Of Weapon Stockpiling In A/R—Police.” May 21, 2016.

Ghanaweb. “Nov. Polls: Weapons Being Stockpiled—Arms Commission.” May 20, 2016.

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis