By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Revelations that the Ghana Armed Forces has created a Special Forces Unit (SFU) to be deployed in security operations have come to inflame passions in an already tense political environment in the country because the NPP followers have decided to cry wolf instead of seeing it as a necessary arrangement to secure national interests.
They are behaving as if they should have been consulted before such a force was created. Who do they think they are?
Why should they be complaining, anyway? Did the military hierarchy needed any Parliamentary approval to establish such a unit? Or did the government have to seek the NPP’s consent if, indeed, the formation of the SFU is at its instance? I don’t think so. That is why I see what the NPP leaders are embarking on as a foolish and wasteful exercise in futility. It is a hot but useless rhetoric. To some of us, such a specialized unit poses no threat to anybody’s interests but those who are clandestinely planning to cause mayhem in pursuit of their political ambitions. These may be those in the NPP who foolishly regard governance of Ghana as their entitlement. They are protesting against the SFU and running around radio stations, creating the impression that the SFU is designed to help President Mills’ government rig the December general elections. This is the most unwarranted protest to waste any time over.
Predictably, these NPP activists have begun raising dust in a misguided attempt to alarm Ghanaians. I have often wondered why the NPP is particularly bent on politicizing everything that happens under governments other than their own. In most cases, despite the official clarifications given (especially by the military), the NPP followers still display ignorance about the necessity for such developments and are doing all they can to create needless panic among the populace.
The latest demonstration of that penchant has come from the foul-mouthed Ursula Owusu, the party’s parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma South, who is witless enough to associate the creation of the SFU to a hidden agenda to subvert Election 2012 or to skew it to favour the incumbent. Let’s hear her: “The will of the people cannot be subverted by anybody or group because when it matters, Ghanaians will defend the nation…. When the people get tired of the system and resolve that enough is enough, she said, "no special forces can stand against the will of the people.” (Ghanaweb.com, March 8, 2012). I shudder to hear such useless comments from people who one would consider educated enough to know how the security apparatus functions in a democratic dispensation. Do these NPP functionaries really understand the enormity of the security challenges facing the country in this 21st century? Instead of being paranoid and presenting that paranoia as a national concern, the NPP leaders should come to terms with reality and stop crying wolf. One wonders what they mistake professionalism in the security setup for. Why should they think that the government has a diabolical plan up its sleeves and needs the support of such a military unit to effect? In any case, what is it about the SFU that will make it support such “diabolical intentions” to subvert the general elections and, thereby, endanger our democracy?
We are fed up with such paranoia. Our country’s history tells us what the forebears of this NPP did to thwart progressive efforts by the Great Osagyefo and his “Verandah Boys” to gain independence. They went further to indulge in terrorist acts, planting bombs all over the place and maiming and scaring the citizens just to score cheap political points.
In this 4th Republic, we have heard them issue senseless threats of being ready to match the government boot-for-boot in fighting to regain political party. They have hinted of having the force with which to confront the government. Such useless boasts don’t redound to a democratic dispensation and efforts to sustain national stability.
When it was Rawlings’ turn to find lasting solutions to the country’s security problems, they rose up against him. Despite all the criticisms they have heaped on Rawlings, he will continue to be praised for the high degree of security that he established in the country under his rule. Those who accuse him of creating a security apparatus to protect his interests have misfired big time. When he left office, did he take away the security network to serve his parochial interests? Indeed, his administration established the Forces Reserve Unit (later to be called the 64 Infantry Regiment) to secure the country. And the loyalty of the personnel was not in the least questioned. These were selfless, devoted, and patriotic service personnel who played their part in providing national security. They were the so-called “Commandos” dreaded by his opponents. But because they succeeded in securing the country, Ghanaians didn’t have any fear that the country would be destabilized. Despite all the numerous coup attempts at Rawlings (the last one of which was being engineered in February 1987 by none other than the NPP’s senile J.H. Mensah in an operation code-named “Nobistor Affair”), the Rawlings government prevailed. It did so because of the impenetrable security cordon that the security services had woven around the country.
It is these same forces that have secured the country to date. And considering the additional responsibilities imposed on the country by its democracy and new economic paradigms, what is wrong about creating a specialized unit to deal with specialized crimes against the state?
Take armed robbery, for instance, which Rawlings virtually curbed only for it to resurface with an unprecedented alacrity under Kufuor. Armed robbery was the citizens’ worst fear under Kufuor and it has spilled over into the Mills era. Again, the level of security consciousness that prevailed under Rawlings was inconceivably high, which is responsible for the political stability that Ghana has been enjoying for more than 20 years now! Who in his right frame of mind won’t appreciate this huge accomplishment and allow the security services to function as deemed fit?
In the first place, we are aware that our state institutions are still weak and can’t perform the heavy responsibilities that the constitutional democratic system of governance has imposed on them. Shouldn’t we be satisfied that at least, one of them—the military—is making the difference? Of course, some ignorant critics will quickly blurt out their unintelligent response that the military is a drain on our national resources and shouldn’t be supported this way in its expansion or injection of professionalism into its life. Such ignorant people should be ashamed. Any responsible citizen who inquires about the operations of the military will know how much benefit it rakes in for the country. Probably, if such people get to know that the Ghana Armed Forces doesn’t only grab resources but also yields benefits through its internal and international operations, they will be informed to zip their mouths. Let the military establishment throw more light on this issue for people to know that the Ghana Armed Forces makes profits! Again, it is my wish that all the security services will be encouraged to create specialized units to tackle special assignments to enhance their status and secure the national interest in diverse ways. It is only when such developments occur that they will attract public respect and confidence. The Ghana Police Service has some of such specialized units even though some problems still need to be addressed to make them more viable and efficient than they’ve been so far. The Rapid Response Unit and the Special Police Command (SPC) especially need to be strengthened. So also should all the internal mechanisms and structures that are geared toward policing the personnel to be of good behaviour be improved. All the other security services (Ghana Prison Service, Ghana Fire Service, Ghana Immigration Service) and the quasi ones (Customs and Excise Service, Community Police, etc.) should also be reinvigorated. No amount of vain criticism and paranoid condemnation on the part of opponents should deter the authorities from implementing decisive measures aimed at securing the country against sabotage and espionage.
Indeed, the NPP particularly is obnoxious for thwarting genuine efforts aimed at such purposes. I remember very well their negative attitude toward the so-called “Commandos” and why Kufuor was misled into either dismissing them (e.g., Col. Gbevlo Lartey) or being hesitant in supporting their absorption into the mainstream Ghana Armed Forces, a process that had begun before Rawlings left office. By constantly expressing this useless and needless apprehension, the NPP functionaries only create unwanted tension and premonition.
I hope that those now being identified as capable hands and trained to constitute the Special Forces Unit will not be targeted for any punitive action if the NPP wins the 2012 elections. If they indeed have any love for the country, they should work for its security so that the citizens can feel secure and go about their activities without having to look over their shoulders every step of the way every day! There is no justification for the country to be left insecure, especially with the emergence of the oil industry and the challenges it poses. We know that the traditional military establishment can be used to fight off aggression or sabotage; but there is nothing wrong with reinforcing its capabilities with a specialized unit such as the SFU.
If the NPP leaders are worried at the SFU because they consider it as a force that will crush any terrorist acts they may be hatching with their “All-die-be-die” nonsense, so be it. But they will be deceiving themselves that they can confront such a force with their belligerence. If they do anything that warrants their being crushed, they should be crushed without any let or hindrance.
They were those who corrupted the traditional military institution in the 1st Republic when Nkrumah created the President’s own Body Guards Unit. They did so when Acheampong began equipping the Police Service (re-named the Ghana Police Force) to take up additional responsibilities; and they sought to do so under Rawlings (with the so-called “Commandos” idea) all to no avail.
If they make any ill-thought-of move to incite the military (especially their lackeys therein) against the government because of this SFU issue, they should be dealt with severely. It is only then that they will realize the futility of the threats they are bandying about in their morbid desire to regain political power. I wholeheartedly support any official action to secure the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Those who are clamouring for political power and feel threatened by the creation of such specialized units shouldn’t be allowed to hold any sway anywhere. Indeed, if the Ghanaian electorate decide to vote down the incumbent, I don’t think that it will be the responsibility of the SFU to retain him in power. The NPP leaders’ fears and protests are unwarranted. Why can’t they rather see positive things out of such a development from a wider perspective as far as the security of national interests is concerned? And why do they think that they will win the elections at all costs to warrant their opposition to such a force in the military?
I want to remind these paranoid NPP functionaries that one of the major sacrifices that we can make today to sustain our democracy is to secure our country. Eternal vigilance is the key. Democracy is expensive and creating institutions to help us sustain it is a must. The SFU is just one of those specialized institutions for that purpose, which the NPP shouldn’t fear. Instead, its functionaries should see it as a national asset to be propped up with public goodwill and the resources it needs to function effectively. The NPP activists can still go ahead to look for political power without subjecting Ghanaians to this kind of paranoia. If they choose to disband such institutions if they ever regain political power, they will be known for what they are.
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