Dr. Percy’s proposal on national security is dangerous (Part II)

Fri, 2 Nov 2012 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We acknowledge the fact that as a human institution, the national security apparatus is not immune to manipulation. But why should we single out the President when there are various mechanisms of control? The security apparatus can be manipulated by not only the President but their own commanders as well. The real issue to fear is any friction between the President and upper echelons of the security services, especially in a situation where any of them may flagrantly disobey the President’s order. It happens in other countries and causes much trouble. In our case, we haven’t had anything of the sort. It doesn’t mean that it can’t happen, but it hasn’t happened so far nor is there any inkling to alert us to its happening soon or later.

There has been a very cordial relationship between our Presidents and the high command of the security services. As to when that cordiality will degenerate into bad blood to warrant the President’s exercise of his powers to manipulate the security apparatus, I cannot tell. I won’t even bother my head over it because there is no need for this kind of dangerous game of speculation. In our case, we are conversant with how the security apparatus functions in diverse ways, especially during a military intervention in national politics to the extent that dictatorial tendencies on the part of the Head of State could spell the doom of opponents or just anybody caught in the crossfire of military dictatorship and dissension.

All the military interventions in our national politics demonstrated such waywardness in the abuse of the instruments of violence (both human and material) to perpetrate heinous acts that served only the perpetrators’ interests. But they paid a heavy price for it.

The other issue is about the Electoral Commission’s Electoral Task Force. Here too, Dr. Percy seems not to get it right. Commenting on the brouhaha over who heads the special election security task force, he also said “it is completely false that anyone appointed from outside his or her political responsibilities to head the special election security task force will bring transparency in the elections.” What exactly is the definition of “transparency” that informs Dr. Percy’s viewpoints? I am confounded at this point. Empowering the EC to manage the electoral process is good but it can’t perform its onerous functions alone. That is why the suggestion by William Dowokpor of the Progressive People’s Party “that an Electoral Commission Officer heading the special election security task force—be it at the constituency, the region or national level—will be the most appropriate situation” is also questionable. In the same vein his elaboration that “in the election period, the EC has the total control over what happens and its officers will provide a more neutral way of handling miscreants who foment trouble during the election” is intriguing. In all that happens in the electoral process, there is need for conscientiousness and patriotism to ensure that the process is not skewed to favour any of the contestants. But we must not implement measures that will cause more trouble than we can contain. The President will continue to be the head of national security and it is our responsibility to keep him on his mettle and ensure that all loopholes are plugged to curtail any abuse of incumbency. That is why civil society groupings need to be non-partisan and conscionable enough to promote public education and awareness creation to facilitate the electoral process. What we currently have is deplorable. There is none of the so-called civil society groupings that isn’t politically aligned. How can such organizations command public respect and trust to help streamline the electoral process?

In the end, let’s leave security matters to security experts and those constitutionally mandated to handle affairs. We should play our watchdog roles and offer constructive criticisms to support them. Nothing of the sort prescribed by Dr. Percy and Dowokpor will solve any perceived problem. Let’s not add more to the package to hamstring ourselves. The President will remain head of national security at all times.

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.