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Feature Article of Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Columnist: Asimenu-Forson, Kwaku

Mahama SHSs and matters arising II

By Kwaku Asimenu-Forson

In a latest publication on Ghana web (27/1/2013) titled as above, there have been many intriguing comments regarding cost of boardenised Mahama SHSs, high intermarriages in Ghana guaranteeing the stability of the state in lock and key, military conscription in Ghana being advantageous rather to criminal elements and fostering patriotic spirit in the Ghanaian needing starting rather in the formative years. I have therefore decided to explore the topic further to keep the public debate on military conscription in Ghana alive. I however must firstly elaborate on two issues namely ‘military conscription in this context and my position on the 200 SHSs promised by JDM.

Military conscription as the compulsory enlistment of all qualified citizens into the military is not geared only at training people at how to wield guns or undergo physical exercises. It is also a great forum for training in civic duties, honing of national consciousness and patriotic fervor and reinforcement of positive attitudes as a human being. It emphasizes shared identity, comradeship and espirit de corps as a citizen of the state. This could take about 3-6 months with special trainees spending longer for onward enlistment into the regular army. One commentary said these are better achieved when instituted at the formative years. Well and good. Civic education at basic school, right? Except that history and social empiricism from Israel, France, China, US, UK ect at various stages in history points to military conscription as the best ways to engender the goals afore-discussed. It is the realization of these goals that I submitted that a boarding system better aids in their realization than the community schools.

Not that I have anything against the community SHSs to be built. If anything I am full of admiration for the campaing team of Prez Mahama for coming up with such a credible alternative to what appeared populist without substance in the form of free free bonto SHS. Neither was I advocating that these community schools be made boarding schools. I aimed at generating public debate on military conscription.

Having said that can we explore the idea that intermarriages in Ghana is sufficient to guarantee the perpetual stability of the state? Before the genocide in Rwanda, intermarriages were common. In fact the UNHCR has records of people who murdered their spouses in the name of the extermination project in Rwanda. Were there no intermarriages between Kokombas and Nanumbas before the conflict? Are there no intermariages in Bawku today between Mamprusis and Kusasis? Many marriages today comes largely as a way of financial sustenance or at best a socioeconomic partnership where the two parties pull resources to mutually achieve their individual and collective goals. Check the divorce statistics. The issue of Lovi lovi Love driving on the highway of For better for Worse till death do us apart in an inter-tribal union in Ghana is the exception rather that the norm. that’s why our elders say that if the vulture in your village eats your meat, it would at least leave your bones.
Prez Kuffuor once said, ‘ Ghanaians know the cost of everything and the value of nothing’. We knew the cost of the Motorway, the Akosombo Dam, the Jubilee/Flagsstaff House, STX , everything and never their value. Regarding how Ghana is blessed both in natural and human resource, there is nothing we need as a country that we cannot afford. It is only a matter of prioritization. Like Nana Addo would say, it is only a matter of choices. Therefore if we come to the decision point that military conscription is the way forward for social re-engineering in the forward march of the Ghana project, why not; we can fund it, we have the money. Moreso, it might not need be divorced entirely from the current national service scheme.
Of all the reactions, what I considered most unfortunate was the submissions that Ghanaians are not the kind of people to be given such an opportunity and that criminal elements in the society would take advantage of the programme to perpetuate crime. I beg to differ. In 2010, we learnt that there was an armed robbery school in Ashiaman. Some may not be that structured but still, crime schooling goes on in the dark everyday everywhere. There are even people in uniform or formerly so who engage in crime. I think that a programme for conscription would rather reform warped minds before they grow intof ull fledged criminals. Can we give conscription a thought?



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