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Opinions of Sunday, 21 October 2018


Much ado about political vigilantism

Anthony Akoto Osei, the Member of Parliament for the Old Tafo constituency, was the victim this time around. He together with some members of his New Patriotic Party (NPP) were brutally attacked by the dreaded Delta Force, a vigilante group belonging his own party, at a meeting of the same party at his constituency causing serious injuries on them.

The attack on Akoto and his friends was what forced Ms. Josephine Nkrumah to hold a press conference last Monday where she took the opportunity to remind us once again on the need to come together as a force to pressurize government and the security agencies to eradicate all vigilante groups in the country.

Well, is this the first time vigilantism which involves gangsters taking to arms to defend themselves and force their parochial interest but now borrowed by politicians delightfully to commit all manner of crimes as carried on Akoto and highlighted by Ms. Nkrumah last Monday?

Before Ms. Nkrumah’s call we ever had the Emmanuel Bombande, Bright Simons, Irbad Ibrahim, Kofi Bentum Quantson and their peace organizations telling us the same things before. That vigilantism in the country is dangerous and we needed as a matter of urgency to eradicate it.

And did we need anybody to tell us, our governments and security forces about the dangers involved here when a simple reflection would have showed us that such things as the Mamprusis and Kusasis wars in Bawku and the Alavanyo-Nkonya in the Volta region etc. were as a result of vigilantism that we have allowed to be waged.

Also the constant tensions surrounding all our general elections since 1992 including the snatching of ballot boxes and the killing of political activists all over have vigilantes behind them, and we should have known this.

What of the attacks on some of our cherished institutions including the Tamale Teaching Hospital, the offices of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and the National Youth Authority (NYA) across the country and the glaring attempts to take over lorry parks and toilets that grips us in the aftermath of either a victory for NDC or NPP anytime there is an election is the cause of vigilantism.

But how did our politicians come to borrow and now favor vigilantism as a potent tool.

By 1982, Fl. Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, will shoot his way to power. But to continue in power, Rawlings would create the dreaded quasi-military force, the militias, as an appendage of the security forces which were all used to suppress us and help him rule.

By 1992 there was pressure on Rawlings to return this country back to civilian rule and he would agree but not until he won the election he organized using the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

In 2000 John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor will lead the NPP to defeat the NDC and would take the control of the nation. And to achieve his objective Kufour will need to take total control of the security agencies left by Rawlings. This led to Kufour brutally taking the decision to remove all heads of the security agencies in the country and in their place appoint his favorites. There was also the withdrawal of all the security details and protection the NDC members enjoyed under Rawlings.

This new freedom and drastic changes introduced by Kufour and manipulations the security forces encouraged the attacks of some members of the NDC by some NPP members who saw the new freedom.

On seeing these followers of the NDC who were now in opposition would take to vigilante groups including the Azorka Boys as a means of protecting the party and its members particularly at party activities across the country. This will later help the party to return to power through John Evans Atta Mills in 2009.

But, through Mills and later John Dramani Mahama who took over from Mills in 2012 the manipulation and unfair usage of the security forces against opponents as started by Rawlings and amplified by Kufour will continue.

The continuation of this will eventually lead to the then opposition NPP party to invite some private security experts from South Africa to help establish the Delta Force among other vigilante groups to protect the party’s interest and win the 2016 elections under president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who will unfair usage of the security forces and against opponents which is still persisting as we write.

That is the story of vigilantism and its contributions to political fortunes in the country. This is the basis for which they are all manner of vigilantes including the Bolga Bull Dogs, Invincible Forces, Bamba Boys, the Kandahar Boys, Aluta Boys, Nima Boys, Salifu Eleven, Zongo Caucus, Verandar Boys, Supreme, Mahama Boys, Delta Force, Badariba, Basuka Boys and Bindiriba etc. across the country. And this is why the NDC is adding more new ones as we saw brazenly exhibited during the recent Unity Walks of the party.

Who will begrudge the NDC for resorting to vigilante groups in the hope of winning 2020?

But the sad history of Old Ghana Empire that inspired our name is there for us to learn. The Empire grew up around 750AD. It was propelled by the wealth from Gold and covering a vast territory flanking nearly the entire present day West and North Africa.

But despite the wealth and splendor by 1200AD the Empire had collapsed taken over by the Mali Empire.

What led to the formation of Mali was this. To the north the Almoravids, a vassal state, became disenchanted with the unfair rule of the leaders and took to arms in similar style like our gangster vigilantes.

The rulers of Ghana in Kumbi Saleh, the capital, saw this and will not take action to correct things. They couldn’t even organize the strong army at their disposal, which was reported to be well over 400,000, even at that time to arrest the unrest.

The Almoravids seeing these would be embolden and continue their defiance drawing other small vassal states like Mali to join them. Eventually, before those in Kumbi Salleh would realize it Mali toppled them.

That is a vivid reminder of what our inactions on our vigilantism could be leading us towards. It suits the selfish politicians and their cronies within the security forces. They will not act so far as their objectives are being gained.

Well if Old Ghana will be very remote for us to readily recollect we should be wizened to just turn around and see the devastations cause by the Boko Harams in Nigeria, the Libya unrests, the Mano River Wars all resulting from the sparks of vigilantism.

Some vigilantes became fed up with the systems in those places and took arms to defend their parochial interests and the result is glaring.

Can we also imagine that it is possible one day out of the bigger NPP/NDC vigilantes or smaller ones like that of the People National Convention (PNC) which was used to intimidate Hassan Ayariga a primary in Wa leading to his formation of the All Peoples Congress (APC) will become disgruntled with a decision of any government and will begin shooting their way to Flag Staff house to remove the president? It is very possible.

That is why the security forces need to act now to take total control of this country showing fairness to all manner of persons and political parties without bias. They should stop the manipulations of their organizations by our presidents and their party members to their advantage. It is a disadvantage.

But knowing Ghana and, our proclivity to say yes sir master to manipulative leaders it will be difficult. Culturally we don’t stand to fight the unjust be it from our masters or not. If our security forces will do this it’s better for us.

But if this simple solution will be complex, and I know it will because of our hero worshiping, the solution is for us to consider our security organizations to appoint their heads and leaders as in the manner of our Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies that we are proposing to become elective.

This will force these organizations and their heads to be pro patria and stop following these self-seeking politicians that are interfering and undermining the fight to eradicate these troublesome vigilantes from us and save us.