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General News of Monday, 25 February 2008

Source: Ghanaian Times

Ghana’s peace is deceptive - P. V. Obeng

Mr. P. V. Obeng, a former Presidential Advisor on Governmental Affairs, has said that the notion that Ghana is a peaceful country and cannot be plunged into civil war may be misleading.

He argued that the conditions that led other African countries to war exist in the country.

These conditions, he said, included the perception that some tribes are favoured in appointments to positions of trust, complaints about uneven distribution of spatial developments, unfair sharing of the country's wealth and fear of elections being rigged.

He therefore, called on government to use the instruments of state to diffuse the mounting tension and manage the affairs of the country in a manner to prevent crisis and ensure everlasting peace.

Mr. Obeng, Managing Director of OB Associates, a consultancy firm, was speaking on the topic : "Aftermath of the Kenya general election - Any lessons for Ghana and Africa" at a public lecture organised by the Tema Chapter of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) alumni.

The lecture forms part of a programme to discuss topical issues with the view to raising awareness and creating an opportunity for civil society to actively get involved in finding solutions.

Mr. Obeng noted that African nations naturally tend to bond strongly along tribal lines and these can be easily carried into party politics, such that some powerful individuals or families may want to satisfy their selfish egos.

"If this is not checked, it can with time undermine society and lead to the unexpected, like what happened in Kenya, Rwanda, Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire among others," he said.

"Ghana's history since independence has shown that these same sentiments and perceptions are with us but what is important is to find ways to contain them and nib them in the bud.”

Mr. Obeng suggested that as a way of reducing tension, governments should ensure that development is spread across the country while at the same time appointments are not made on favoured tribal lines.

He expressed concern about the way students in tertiary institutions are forming tribal associations instead of national associations for the development of the country adding that it rather emphasises the differences in society more than uniting them.

A Kenyan civil engineer, Wilson Kalunye, shared his experience at the forum.

He said during the genocide in Rwanda, Kenyans took things for granted that such an atrocity cannot happen in their country but events lately had proven otherwise.

He therefore cautioned Ghanaians to take steps to ease tension rather than pride themselves in the fact that nothing of the sort can happen to them.

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