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Opinions of Saturday, 24 July 2010

Columnist: Amponsah, John

Advice to the Government of Ghana on Managing Security

By John Amponsah

The advice presented in this article should be relevant not only to the current government of Ghana but to any sitting government of the people, which holds the interests of the people at heart. Much of what will be said here should be seen as obvious, however sometimes the obvious has to be stated in order to emphasize its importance.

The current government of Ghana has the opportunity to propel Ghanaian society into a better state of affairs, using funds gained from prudent investment of resources, particularly that of oil. As fresh blood attracts sharks in the ocean and flies on land, the oil will attract various kinds of interest groups looking to make money. It will take courageous leadership to steer Ghana into this better state of affairs we all want and are looking forward to. Tough decisions will have to be made. The president and his team will have to look out for the interests of the people of Ghana. You are our leaders for the moment so it is your responsibility to play your best game. Make Ghana an example for the rest of Black Africa to follow.

It is for this reason that managing the security of the country is paramount. One may say that Kwame Nkrumah, despite all of his great ideas, idealism, drive and dreams, fell well short of one area: security. He was an intellectual but not a revolutionary. He was easily eliminated by the CIA once he started dealing with the Soviets and the Chinese, something the west (particularly the Americans) did not like. This is because Nkrumah did not “cover his back” well. Mugabe on one hand (arguably) has both the qualities of an intellectual and a revolutionary, while Castro has the qualities of a revolutionary. Both leaders have paid attention to their security and hence remained in power for a long time.

Once again the need for solid, water tight security against externally originating “trouble” is most important. Ghana as a country is at the moment not only dealing with US security groups but also those of European and Asian countries. BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India & China) is becoming more powerful, while some Asian countries like South Korea and Japan are strong and hence have “needs” to satisfy their societies. All of these will have “eyes” and “ears” in Ghana, this is obvious. Those who take care of security in Ghana must be on top of their game. If things were so during Nkrumah’s time it would have been more difficult for the CIA to “take him out”, using Ghanaian traitors as proxies.

President Mills, you should be aware that once you start making decisions such as filing away $10 billion housing contracts, you are beginning to look like you have the interest of Ghanaians at heart. The people who take care of you should be wise and should make it very difficult for outside troublemakers to play their game. Ghana does not need trouble at this time. What we need is (sustainable) development and growth and improvement in education, health and a general advancement of society.

Ghanaian security managers, instead of harassing your own people (other Ghanaians, reporters, activists etc. if they should ever offend the government) you should use the full extent of your resources to protect the interests of Ghanaians and to make sure our society is protected so that it can grow to become what it is destined to become. I tell you, if we are to move from “3rd world” to “2nd world” status, it will not be easy at all. There will always be those who will hold us back. All Ghanaians need to play their roles, and as we can see Ghanaians seem to be doing so. Even on the web (Ghanaian websites) one sees contributions from Ghanaians with different training, all pouring into one big pool, into one resource. On the ground, private entrepreneurs are doing a lot of business. To protect this atmosphere, to grow this hive of seemingly disparate activities (but necessary for economic and social advancement), the society has to be protected. The leaders have to play a positive and forward-looking role, they have to take decisions in the interest of the people, and those who look after the leaders have to protect them.

So there you go, your work is cut out for you. Once again, this message is directed at the security agencies of Ghana. Do not harass your own people. Do not harass the opposition. Focus on protecting an atmosphere that will nurture growth of education, economics and foster social advancement. Learn from the very best! The Libyans, the Cubans, the Venezuelans, even the Americans and the Russians! Mossad! Whomever! It does not matter, just get it right. You don’t need the best technology to thwart local activities of technologically sophisticated groups such as the CIA. The British MI6 is among the best in the world but their technology is not on the same level as the Americans. Instead they are well trained and they have got brains and guile (which is not to say that CIA-trained agents have neither).

The message in this article is simple: for Ghana as a country to move forward and to progress as an African nation worthy of emulation by other African countries, every Ghanaian will have to play their part. Good leadership is absolutely essential and good leaders must be protected from traitors and external troublemakers. The social environment for education, economics (sustainable development) and socio-cultural advancement will be developed by Ghanaians of different training and interests, if a suitable environment is present. All of this must be protected in order to foster growth of the society.

Wake up! Do not make the same mistakes that occurred during the Nkrumah era, when protection of the leader was poor and when a great opportunity for the advancement of the country and potentially for the African continent was missed. Put ethnic affiliations aside or at least in check and look at the bigger picture. Make sure security is water-tight. If Americans and South Koreans happen to get pissed off at decisions made regarding oil and billion dollar housing contracts, you should know that there could potentially (but not necessarily) be trouble from their troublemakers and you should be ready for it. Although these are only two examples, there could be more in the future. It is your job to thwart any current or future instances of these.

Your work has been cut out for you! Can you live up to the challenges you may face? As a Ghanaian, I wish you all the best.