Are Mills and Mahama on the Right Path on Ethnic Conflict?

Fri, 6 Mar 2009 Source: Danso, Kwaku A.

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Why can't we Ghanaians and Africans use simple rules and laws in maintaining peace, and when violated punish offenders! Why do we always see some mysterious reasons for crimes, deaths, sicknesses and a witch or bad spirit, the devil, or ethnic hatred has to be blamed!!

In a report on myjoyonline.com of March 3, 2009, we read the following: “The President, John Evans Atta Mills has dispatched his second-in-command, John Dramani Mahama to Bawku, in the Upper East, as an emissary to broker lasting peace between the Kusasis and the Mamprusis. Two people were confirmed dead Sunday in renewed clashes in the area, sending worrying signals the conflict might degenerate.”

Folks, we all love peace and there is nothing wrong if your neighbor’s house is on fire and you help. The funny thing about this news is that our leaders always seem to have no clue how to solve these simple acts of crimes in certain impoverished regions and always ascribe them to ethnic conflict. The report continues that: “A combined military and police search led to the arrest of 27 people said to be connected with the violence. They are to be investigated, while the search continues for guns in private hands”. Strangely, the report added that “The vice president's preoccupation will be to restore law and order, rather than to find the cause of the skirmishes. He is also expected to meet with heads of the two ethnic groups”.

For God’s sake, is the Vice President the Chief law enforcement officer? Why the same old thinking! Who told them that the crimes were committed because of ethnic conflict? The President was elected not to use the old ways to do things! Last month a disheartening news item read that some Nigerian pastor was claiming the President consulted with him or other such silly news. Folks, let’s worship our God or fetish if that is our personal choice, on our own time, but when it comes to managing Ghana, let’s use the rule of law, enforce laws to the letter, punish crimes, and think Scientific instead of beliefs and faiths! I remember a caution one Bank Manager gave me when I threatened to write an article on Ghanaweb exposing the poor customer service. She told me some employees may consult their local fetish if they are fired from the job! I exclaimed NONSENSE! My Gosh! Is this the fear of a Bank Manager who needs to provide better service in the year of our Lord 2009?

QUESTION - Folks, let’s ask ourselves if the way we deal with human problems is the most effective way. What is John Mahama going to do in Upper West or East? Negotiate for peace! Come oooooon!! Is John Mahama the Vice President and Chief Cop or Chief UN Peace official in Ghana now, or given some magical skills and wand to avoid human disputes among themselves and restore eternal peace in the North, Upper East or Upper West? If so why not in the whole of Ghana, Africa, and the World! I would love to see no armed robberies and no murders in Ghana again! Can VP John and maybe President Mills help in that regard? By the way, after that I want him to negotiate World Peace! And how about Poverty elimination! Can anybody negotiate a peace such that the nations of the world will never be in disagreement, no conflicts, and at war with each other? Look at the Bible and see how many wars were fought and are still being fought!

POVERTY AND CRIME - Folks, crimes do occur in any country and when we see crimes, let us call them by their name and prosecute the criminals. Research in some major American cities have shown that most crimes occur in poorer neighborhoods where the youth have more idle time on their hands. It is also a fact that there is a higher level of unemployed youth in these poorer neighborhoods! Can one make an analogy? What kinds of jobs are available in these Ghanaian regions and communities we ascribe to ethnic conflicts? Nobody is suggesting that poorer people are more criminals, but can one draw some analogy that some jobs need to be created in such areas, and/or some financial assistance programs are needed to assist them in creating their own jobs? Can someone tell me what we did with all the $547 million MCA funds from the USA under former American President George W. Bush? Maybe Dr. Kwesi Nduom can help, since he led the team of negotiators. Folks, educated elite are disgracing our nation; is it possible that if the elite and the executive branch helped Ghana solve the crimes in the administration of moneys in Ghana, we could possibly save some money and use it to help create jobs? We can then employ some youth who might otherwise get into crimes, some of which are serious and affect all of us!

TIME IS PASSING - As we speak and write it’s going on two months now and President Mills and his team have not set up a single investigative team to investigate the Auditor Generals reports of missing $295 million in grant moneys in 2008, the unexplained extra $45 million spent on the Ghana@50 celebrations. Why is it that despite $603 million to $1 billion in World Bank grants and loans and foreign consultancies, our people are still drinking from wells and rivers and at best dirty poly tanks and water tankers in our cities and villages! Ghana has more important issues to deal with than our Vice President negotiating peace when crimes have been committed and people need to go to jail in the Upper East or Upper West or other regions!

Folks, history tells us Europeans and Americans were more at war and killing each other in the last centuries perhaps more than any. Didn’t these people invent guns and bullets? Huh! Crimes in America have been estimated to be more than the combined crimes committed in all the other 6 or so industrialized nations. And yet when one arrives in America one does not have to take any more precautions than normally necessary in Accra or London or Toronto, knowing that there are posted phone numbers to call in case of emergency, people to respond, sometimes there are cameras all over the place, there are people responsible for investigating crimes, people to arrest these criminal, and of course well educated Judges to try them and put them behind bars! Ghana can use the free labor of these criminals, as one member of our GLU forum once postulated. We could use these criminals behind bars to help provide services such as cleaning up the towns, eliminating gutters, spraying the neighborhoods to reduce or eliminate the mosquitoes, and digging an underground sewage or work on other valuable state construction jobs! Let criminals pay their dues to society!

Folks, isn’t that how modern societies are managed by leaders in the modern day? – Define projects, enact laws, enforce the laws, arrest the violators and criminals and put them to work to pay off their debt to society! Who cares if a chained gang of criminals from Nsawam prison are on your street cleaning up your gutters, and especially if they are former criminal politicians!! What a joy it will be!

I’d strongly suggest to President Mills that there is no specific hatred or crimes that are Ashanti, Ewe, or Fante, Mamprusi, Kusasi or Dagomba! No! I am sure President Mills and his Vice John Mahama are aware that none of their education can point to any scientific rational for specific crimes associated with Upper West, Upper East, Ewe or Ashanti, Accra or Bunkrugu, except the human motivations of anger, hatred, greed, selfishness, and criminality that leads to theft and murders! Period!

SAME OLD METHODS? - The people of Ghana do not want the same old ways of solving problems, where we attributed lack of water, diseases and illnesses to the devil or prayed to God for water to fill our dam to provide electricity. No! We cannot blame our backward lifestyle to ignorance anymore, after 50 years of independence and the Internet being used in Ghana among our youth. We want the rule of law established and enforced, moneys accounted for, and projects managed for the people! We want to use the same brains and technology that others like Singapore have used to survive and do well in the world. The people will not accept some traditional behind-the-scene excuses and methods! Let the Chiefs leave home their big umbrellas and not come waste the time of the President for favors, as done in the old days and under Kufuor! Occasionally it will help if Mills will come out of the conference rooms, take a breather and have a dialogue with the people who elected him! A press conference to tell us why some people seem to have stolen blindly from public coffers, are still stealing blindly and we don’t do anything about it!

For God’s sake, Ghana has moved forward (if I may borrow an NPP phrase) from gun-toting forced leadership through 24 karat gold-chain-wearing and wonna-be Kingship leadership, and now we have a leader who is well educated and a former Professor of Law, educated at Legon and at one of America’s topmost University, Stanford! Please let’s put some of these traditions and cultures such as the fama-Nyame (give-it-to-God) principles aside, step on the pedal and clear these criminals hiding under coats of ethnicity, politics, and put them in jail now!! We need to ask why American or other Western leaders do not get involved in crimes involving ethnic groups anymore but allow the police and Attorney General’s offices to work! Half of the missing funds at the Ghana@50 could pay police well and provide vehicles for them to work as professionals in protecting the people! President Mills has promised to investigate the previous unsolved crimes involving the Yaa-Na murders, Alhaji Mobilla and others, and we suggest strongly that he keeps his promise and have Nsawam and other prisons made into productive centers where criminals will pay their dues to society. In California where Mils came to school many decades ago, license plates are produced by criminals in prison!

Let’s forget this notion that we can use taxpayer money to fly up and down within Ghana to talk with Chiefs as a way to enforce laws. Let’s stop the notion that all problems including crimes, can be solved by diplomacy, good will of the President and the Vice, by prayers, or by mere talking. Neither can we fly around the world as Mr. Kufuor did, or run to some young PhDs at the World Bank, to solve our financial problems for us! No! It never works that way! Life is a competitive world and we are part of it! Let us use our brains, our education and global experience, and our laws, to manage our moneys, our projects, and provide enforcement of laws. We must compete on the same global markets for limited resources in the world as others, and then obtain peace! No other way around it. Most Ghanaians think we have wasted valuable time since our independence. PLEASE step on the pedal for Ghana!

Thank you.

Dr. Kwaku A. Danso President, Ghana Leadership Union. Email: k.danso@comcast.net

Columnist: Danso, Kwaku A.