By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
I am not particularly enthused by the recent report of the supposedly ringing success of a collaborative swoop conducted between personnel of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) and the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) on armed robbers in the Kumasi metropolis and the Obuasi township (See "The Police Must Be Commended - Prof. Ken Attafuah" Citifmonline.com/Ghanaweb.com 3/22/13).
I am not particularly enthused because it clearly and eerily indicates that the Ghana Police Service is both woefully understaffed and under-equipped to readily tackle the quality-of-life preservation for which it was originally established. Indeed, in the lead-up to Election 2008, what most impressed me about the Akufo-Addo campaign, was the latter's up-to-date statistical figures on the optimal size of the police service that Ghana needed to maintain in order to guarantee the highest level of personal and collective security for all her citizens.
Needless to say, there was absolutely nothing mysterious or magical about the aforesaid statistics; they had been largely compiled by experts commissioned by the United Nations, and these figures dealt with proportionate national population sizes and were readily accessible to any security-conscious leader. And it is for this reason why I have been wondering whether the Mahama government is aware of the cheap and ready accessibility to these figures; and if so, what has his government been doing about the same.
At any rate, it cannot be gainsaid that once it becomes an imperative necessity for the military to step in and conduct policing activities, it is time to either dissolve the entire police establishment or immediately reconfigure the same constructively, in order to get it to perform up to snuff, once again. This well appears to be the situation in the country presently. And this is too dangerous for comfort.
To be certain, the first requirement of contemporary nationhood is security, and then health, agriculture, education and transport; and then all else logically follows. Of course, not necessarily in the order enumerated above. You see, all things being perfect, one would rather have the military patrolling our national boundaries and ensuring that all undesirable elements are religiously kept at bay. Once the military gets into the domestic routine of policing activities, there can be no telling of the deleterious impact that this new role may have on its traditional function of external defense. And presently, the country appears to be in possession of the requisite resources than at any other moment since Ghana reasserted its sovereignty from British colonialism some 60 years ago.
In the Kumasi armed robbery episode, the problem clearly appears to be primarily economic; and so the government may do itself and Ghanaian citizens great good by coming forth with a comprehensive economic development strategy that goes well beyond rhetorical platitudes. The Kufuor government went about this problem with the progressive establishment of the National Youth Employment Program (NYEP), whereby young and able-bodied citizens were offered employable and entrepreneurial skills. This, however, was only a peripheral aspect of the problem.
What really needs to massively occur in order for a viable economic transformation to become a storied success, is for the Mahama government to stop fooling itself with the patently insubstantial agenda of "social democracy," whatever be the meaning of such amorphous beast, and actually open up the country to industrial capitalism with a welfarist edge, as conceived by Drs. Danquah and Busia. In the case of Dr. Busia, rural development was to be the engine of growth. The "Galamsification" of the country's rural economy, as it presently prevails, is the direct consequence of failed leadership in this most crucial sector of Ghana's economy.
In Obuasi, we are told that such leadership failure has resulted in antagonized Galamsey operatives - or illegal miners - launching massive and deadly attacks on vulnerable citizens who have, in the warped imagination of these Galamseyers, become scapegoats for AWOL policy wonks who ought to be squarely held accountable for the raging economic crisis in the country.
I guess what I am trying to say here is that the cosmetic collaboration between the police and the armed forces in flushing out armed robbers and Galamsey goons is just that, cosmetic. It is tantamount to fighting the symptoms of a carcinogenic disease rather than applying "radical" medication.
Indeed, one expects brilliant lawyer-criminologists like Prof. Kenneth Attafuah to be addressing the country's all-too-fundamental economic problems, rather than incongruously wheeling the proverbial cart before the horse, by pretending as if the problem was more behavioral than it is largely economically determined. Of course, it may be both to the extent that economics and culture are functionally symbiotic.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
March 24, 2013