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Feature Article of Monday, 16 May 2011

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Confronting Ghana’s Problems: Indiscipline

(Part I)

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

E-mail: mjbokor@yahoo.com

May 16, 2011

One of the major problems that many Ghanaians have complained about but which no serious effort is being made to solve is indiscipline at all levels in our national life. Considering the current heightening of acts of indiscipline, especially among the country’s politicians, one can safely draw the conclusion that indiscipline has now become a major negative factor that is creating tension in the body politic. Ghanaians have to tackle this problem to prevent any crisis in the near future. No viable democracy can endure in an atmosphere of indiscipline.

There are many reasons why we should be alarmed at the uptick in indiscipline at all levels in our national life. There is too much indiscipline at all levels. In households, educational institutions, public and private sectors, political parties, traditional institutions, religious establishments, security services, government circles (the Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary)—everywhere! On the roads and streets in the cities, towns, and villages, indiscipline prevails. How can we make any progress if we allow indiscipline to adversely affect our lives and institutions?

INDISCIPLINE IN POLITICS

Many instances of indiscipline have occasioned politicking in the country. Misconduct on the part of government functionaries, judges and others in the Judiciary, and MPs and others in the Legislature confirm that indiscipline is not limited to specific segments of national life. It is everywhere, manifesting in many forms, especially through the manipulation of the systems for personal benefit. This manipulation is given the name “bribery and corruption,” which no one seems to be interested in tackling.

The zeal with which our politicians bad-mouth each other and their opponents is particularly alarming. I will be brazen to say that the relations between and among the different political camps is sour because of indiscipline. Our politicians have thrown caution to the wind and unashamedly use insults, provocative fabrications as well as the peddling of rumours and damaging half-truths and naked lies in a vain attempt to undercut each other or those they consider as “impediments.”

Some of those instances of indiscipline have become obnoxious, not only because they are damaging but because they don’t provide any inspiration for tackling serious national problems. Of all the instances of indiscipline at the political level, the attitude toward the President (J.E.A. Mills) and his government is the worst. And that attitude has been displayed by none other but a group of people led by the President’s own party activists under the control and guidance of former President Rawlings.

We have heard the insults and ill-conceived lies that they’ve hurled at President Mills to such an extent as to project him in a very bad light. This smear campaign is a clear manifestation of how intractable indiscipline is. Still within the NDC, some government appointees can’t control themselves and also fall prey to this problem of indiscipline as they make unguarded utterances to hurt others.

Then, politicians outside the NDC have taken a leaf from what Rawlings and his group have been doing to make utterances that boil down to nothing but outright indiscipline. Calling the President by all kinds of names and imputing to him acts that he hasn’t been proved to have committed reflects indiscipline. The NPP MP for Bimbilla, Dominic Ntiwul, for instance, has made an allegation that beats common sense and portrays indiscipline. By alleging that President Mills won the Presidential elections because of the “ring” he had won and wondering why he has stopped wearing it since then is a mark of abysmal indiscipline if not paralyzing stupidity. Many of such utterances fly about.

Then again, this name-calling and the casting of insinuations and aspersions against the high office of the Presidency seems to be the main political tool being used. The National Chairman of the NPP, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, thinks that President Mills is a “hypocrite” just as the faction in the NDC opposed to the President have labelled him variously as a “coward,” a “sycophant,” a “wicked and divisive man,” an “incompetent man,” and many more. Others see him as a “thief” without bothering to provide any evidence.

Indeed, the spate of indiscipline is worrisome. It is threatening to degenerate further as rival politicians lift their negative politics a notch higher. Herbert Mensah’s wild allegation concerning the “security tapes” on President Mills’ alleged expenditure of 90 million Ghana Cedis on his campaigns is a mark of indiscipline that will set in motion many worrisome developments, especially if it turns out that no such tapes exist.

As our politicians intensify their hustings in this atmosphere of indiscipline, any misguided act or utterance by them can trigger confrontations to destabilize the society. Order seems to have broken down, which is not good for our democracy.

Other numerous instances of misconduct (outright criminal acts of stealing) involving our politicians attest to this problem of indiscipline. Many examples confirm my claim. The criminal conduct of the NDC MP for Sene who helped some Spanish nationals to twist the arms of the police in the fake gold case is known. He is walking about a free man because the Police are not disciplined enough to deal decisively with him.

The former Speaker of Parliament (Begyina Sekyi-Hughes) who stole official property from his official residence is walking about a free man too because those to deal with the matter are not disciplined enough to carry it through. Other politicians have committed crimes but are not being prosecuted because those tasked with the responsibility to maintain order are themselves undisciplined.

INDISCIPLINE AMONG THE CLERGY

It is pathetic to note that those who are charged with the responsibility to reform the society are guilty of indiscipline. Our clergy and leaders of other religious institutions or systems have acted not only as the agents of indiscipline but have become the victims of indiscipline as well. These notable characters who preach virtue on roof-tops descend into the gutters to indulge in immoral acts such as incest (The Jesus One Touch pastor), rape, stealing of church funds, fraud, and many others.

Others have found cunning ways to be in bed with politicians of their liking to launch vicious campaigns against their opponents. Some of these religious leaders act as the spiritual forces for the politicians and help foment trouble. How can we trust our religious leaders to help weed indiscipline from the system if they are themselves part of that problem?

INDISCIPLINE AMONG THE SECURITY SERVICE PERSONNEL

Personnel of all the security agencies have come to notice as undisciplined and inefficient in the performance of their duties, as a result. Just yesterday, the Director-General of the Ghana Immigration Service (Dr. Peter Wiredu), made it known that he had interdicted 116 staff members because of various acts of indiscipline.

The IGP may be doing his best but the Police Service is still bedevilled with indiscipline. We need not talk about the Ghana Armed Forces because instances of indiscipline have been recorded. It must be clear by now that personnel of these security agencies will not be trusted to rid the society of crime if they are themselves undisciplined and establish themselves as accomplices of the very criminals that the state spends resources to deal with.

INDISCIPLINE IN THE MEDIA HOUSES

It must go without saying that the media houses are full of undisciplined journalists who are not ashamed of their conduct. Instances of journalists’ misconduct are known. Some of the journalists are not ashamed to identify with specific political camps and to use their calling to cause tension as they skew or fabricate news reports to serve the interests of their pay masters. Others are known for blackmailing innocent and successful people just to twist their arms for favours. The problem that such journalists create for the country are heart-rending. Such journalists (especially those in the private media) are complicit in the current volatile situation because they have found ways to harm those they don’t like and to sing the praises of those who support them with material gifts and others. Indiscipline in the mass media is entrenched.

To be continued in the next installment

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