Feature Article of Monday, 12 March 2012
Columnist: Yakubu, Abdulai
The Joy Online story which was reposted by Ghanaweb on Thursday, March 8, 2012 on the above caption needs further comments. Even though the Parliament is to meet and decide whether or not to invite the Minister of Defence to explain the mandate of the new Special Force Unit, the comments by some politicians are rather in the bad taste. When Mustafa Hamid first raised the red flag on the SFU displayed during the 55th Anniversary celebration, I asked myself whether Mustafa really looked carefully before he leaped. Yes, the Special Forces under the PNDC were disbanded in the fourth republic. But this SFU is not like the commandos that operated under the PNDC. We are made to understand that, this unit is specially designed to help protect our territorial waters, especially, now that Ghana is exploring oil in the Gulf of Guinea. We could attract terrorist at any time and we need to have a force that can rapidly be deployed “to defend the country against both external and internal aggression”. Yes, we have our regular Army, but most countries in addition to their regular armies, also have special units to carry out special operations. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with having a special force for a country irrespective of the time they were created; whether in election year or not.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma South, Ursula Owusu’s comments on the issue is rather worrying. It is expected that, as a learned person as she is, she could have distinguish between countries practicing despotism from countries with democracy. Comparing Libya under Gaddafi, Iraq under Saddam, Egypt under Mubarak, Uganda under Iddi Amin, and Tunisia under Ben Ali to Ghana under Mills is erroneous and uninformed. It is totally a fallacious comparison for political motive. All these countries were under despotic leaders who made themselves live presidents and refused to listen to their people, but Ghana is under a democratically elected leader who listens to the people of Ghana and ready to conduct peaceful election this year. Therefore the political context of Ghana and those cited by Ursula are never the same. Professor Mills is not Abdulayi Wade of Senegal who manoeuvred to contest elections for the third time. President Mills is within the ambience of the constitution and has done nothing wrong. He has made several pledges, both locally and internally, to withhold the banners of democracy and conduct smooth, free and fair general elections for the country this year. So what is Ursula comparing here? What is her motive? What has the president done that mimics subverting our democracy or the will of the people? The fact that she wants to be an MP does not mean she should tell lies to win the sympathies of the people of her constituency or for people to vote NPP to power. This cheap “kenkey” politics of comparing oranges with apples must stop.
It is important for people like Ursula to know that, the USA, Britain, India, China, and Korea all have Special Forces. All these countries practice democracies. Ghana is not the first democratic country to have it. If Ursula had compared Ghana to countries like the US, Britain or India where their SFUs are used to create human right abuses by brutally subduing opposition or gagging the media, then her comments would have been taken seriously. Unfortunately for Ursula, none of these countries mentioned had their SFUs been misused. Therefore, when structures such as the SFU are created to strengthen the democratic pillars of the country, to prevent any eventual mishap and ensure a peaceful country, it should rather be supported rather than destroyed.
It is equally important to condemn statements coming from government spokes persons on this issue. If government officials say the SFU was created to stem the ‘all-die-be die’ stance of the NPP, then it gives room for the opposition to express doubt about the intensions of the government. Information coming from the government should reflect on the character of the Mills led administration and should be devoid of statements that contradict the presidents’ stance on peaceful elections this year. The spokes persons and the NDC communication team should be coordinative in their release of information to the public. Saying different things on different platforms does not augur well for the progress of the party.
Finally, it should be noted that, both politicians and their followers should exercise decorum in their speeches. Generally, people in developing countries are apprehensive in elections years because of election uncertainties and Ghana must be guided by that. Lets comment responsibly and cross-check our information before we put it to public domain.
Tsinghua University, Beijing China