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Opinions of Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Columnist: Amponsah, Jerry

Atta Mills’ ‘Asomdwee’ In Bed With ‘Azoka Boys’

Is President Atta Mills truly walking his talk – Asomdwee (Peace), or it is a
mere political talk? He has all this while, remained blind and mute over the
atrocities happening right under his nose. He should be honest and frank to the
nation.
Ghana still remains dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to the
violence associated with our infant democracy. Despite the passage of time, our
state of national security has not changed. We have remained reluctant to the
pragmatic measures to address the vulnerability at home. Our government has not
in any way organised itself to tackle the monumental task of improving our
security. Unfortunately we will not see the full effect of these post-election
intimidations and violence for some time to come. While it is unrealistic to
expect that we can eliminate overnight, vulnerabilities that have been decades
in the making, we must do better as a nation. Our country faces grave peril, but
we seem unwilling to mobilize resources to confront the threat before us.
Managing the danger that the Azoka Boys (NDC party’s gangsters) poses cannot be
achieved by relying primarily on radio campaign. These are gangs who consciously
set out to cause harm and spawn disruptive consequences. Their agenda is to
render peaceful elections fractious through intimidations and violence. How
could tax payers’ money be used to fund this immoral cause? Capable criminals
and terrorists attack the stronghold of the main opposition party (NPP), most
especially in the Ashanti Region, to terrorize the law-abiding people and cause
mayhem. The nation has mistakenly voted into power an unconcerned and wicked
government, which is using taxpayer money to sponsor terrorists (Azoka Boys) to
kill its citizenry.

My sense of foreboding about Ghana’s current state of vulnerability predates the
Atiwa violence. It has been welling up through my life currently.
As things stand now, I maintain that their next attack in any bye-election or
the 2012 general elections will involve more than the loss of innocent lives,
but will drawa sporadic response from the national security apparatus and other
concerned bodies. This would be followed by a rash of poorly-conceived new
security mandates in the scramble afterward to reassure an anxious Ghanaian
public. In the presence of these specifics, most policymakers are unwilling to
acknowledge that the threat to the people is real. At thesame time, the
intelligence community is dedicating no resources to assess the threat, posed by
these Azoka Boys. Even those people who understand the Azoka Boys’ commitment to
attacking Ghana are generally reluctant to recognize the degree to which our
security guard is down. Those few who share my concern are convinced that little
can be done. The common refrain I hear is, “Ghanaians need a crisis to act;
nothing will change until we have a serious act of terrorism on Ghana’s soil.”
Sadly, it has turned out that even the Atiwa bye-election has not served as a
catalyst for the country to take stock of its real vulnerability. What I find
are pockets of innovative measures by dedicated public servants who are being
tasked with the IMPOSSIBLE: to secure a nation that has not been mobilized to
defend itself.

The Osu Castle will likely protest this judgment, arguing that I belong to the
opposition NPP. I knew how exposed our nation was prior to the Atiwa
bye-election, and have been closely monitoring what has been happening to our
dear nation. The current government has brandished the stinking incidents during
the presidential run-off – intimidation of electorates and stealing of ballots
by the Azoka boys in the Ashanti Region. This dubious culture remains
intractable.

Electoral intimidation and violence is a threat we must constantly combat if we
are to reduce it to manageable levels, so that we can exercise our franchise
which the constitution provides us free of fear.

This issue deserves far more attention and seriousness, as the real danger lies
before us. If the Atiwa bye-election was a wake-up call, clearly the NDC
government has fallen back asleep – it has not spent its yesterdays preparing
for the tomorrows that now confront the nation. When it comes to political
terrorism, the President Atta Mills-led government is adamant, despite the
periodic raising of the terror-alert level. One begins to wonder the honesty,
integrity, and common-sense approach of the president. Our return to complacency
could not be foolhardy. The incident was an aberration. The same forces that
helped to produce the horror that befell the nation on that day continue to
gather strength. Yet the government appears to be unwilling to do what must be
done to make our society safe during elections – civilian life in our dear
country has been virtually terrorized. The Azoka Boys have exposed our national
security’s Achilles’ heel; they even bluff on public radio to champion their
evil cause. Where do we stand as a nation in the face of a clear and present
threat? The citizens are now defenseless – Ghana is now in a position of
especially grave danger. First, from nearly points on the compass, there is
rising anti-Ghanaianism. To a large extent this is the inevitable by-product of
Ghana’s unique standing as trouble-free country. Are we oblivious of the motto
of our Coat of Arms – FREEDOM and JUSTICE?
Like moths in the flame, our current and future enemies will find the
opportunity irresistible to assault innocent and law-abiding citizens. As a
result, the system that underpins our democratic prosperity is a soft target for
those bent on challenging Ghana’s security. The security apparatus are having a
difficult time in keeping the public anxiety in check because they are
ill-equipped. Instead of mobilizing a defense against enemies who are intent on
targeting innocent civilians, the government is unconcerned.
As a country, we have not pressed our elected leaders to provide an accounting
of the concrete steps they are taking to lessen our vulnerabilities and respond
effectively if the worst should happen.
Is our national security myopic, suffering from mediocrity or being biased? In
all previous incidents, it has not been in the business of protecting the good
people – proving gung-ho response to stop determined gangsters. In election
times, the voters remain largely unprotected.
It’s not as though people who are in positions of authority in the opposition
parties have been kept in the dark about just how broken-down the security
apparatus is, or how poorly-calibrated our national security establishment is to
provide protection for the citizenry. Our national security apparatus must adapt
to the emerging warfare threats directed at the vulnerable people. It behooves
on the national security apparatus to show some level of courtesy, professional
and respect in their services. The NDC government has refused to make meaningful
progress to deal with them, therefore the widespread acknowledgement of the
Azoka Boys’ gangsterism. In all likelihood, the next attack will result in even
greater casualties and widespread disruption to Ghanaian lives and the economy.
In the aftermath of the Atiwa bye-election attacks, we could have decided right
away that we need to broaden our definition of national security.
Osu Castle’s hands-off approach is a clear indication that, it has
wholeheartedly blessed the evil deeds. There is an outright diminishing
incentive to acknowledge the vulnerabilities of our innocent country men.
President Atta Mills has become increasingly reluctant to convene vulnerability
assessments that will highlight the need for professional security measures. One
of the key requirements of a government is that, it must be by the people and
for the people. The threat has transpired but the president has failed to act.
The general public is complicit in all this by its failure to insist on an
accounting of what is being done to confront the threat of terrorism. There has
been surprisingly little public appetite for answers. The people have been
deceived that all is well.
We now must plan for the eventuality that bad people are intent on making bad
things happen. Instead of fixing the problem, time is being wasted in
apportioning blames. Ghanaians have been subjected to a debate over national
security that looks like a ping-pong match.
Our world acclaimed democracy is gradually sinking into a state of decrepitude.
But one cannot eat his cake and have it – we have only ONE Ghana. Progress will
only be achieved if we remove this stinking mote in our eyes.
President Atta Mills, who assured the good people of Ghana to be father for all,
is now far removed from the people that he looks upon as foreigners. He and his
NDC party are driven by self-interest, so excessive that the people’s interests
are forgotten. In all hue and cry, what is more infuriating and irritating is
the speed with which the NDC government and its party propagandists are quick to
play the blame game. Most would also readily agree that there is a difference
between inadvertent untruth and outright slander, between electoral disagreement
and committing premeditated chaos.

This sad culture is what has propelled me to write this piece with all the wits
that I can muster. Why can’t a commander-in-chief accept responsibility and face
the music. The party in government bears the mark of Cain.
We need to acknowledge that there are moral boundaries that should never be
crossed and that, we as a nation are capable of abstaining from evil acts.

“Mere oppression may make a wise one act crazy.” Ecclesiastes 7:7.
In this 21st century, whiles others are enhancing in technology, we are
extremely hooked to antiquated practices.
A nation in which a morale ode regulates the lives of all is now turning into a
nation of ill repute. What the eagle eyes of the world have witnessed, being
overlooked by the NDC government, is an indictment on the integrity of the
government.
To resort to trickery, intimidation, violence and hardliner manipulation of the
democratic process in order to maintain grip on political power is archaic. We
need to learn lessons from what plunged other African countries like Angola,
Chad, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Somalia, etc. into civil war and destroyed their
countries. Gradually a ’mafia state’ is evolving – a state whose political
elections is being hijacked by vampire elites, hustlers and gangsters, who
operate with their own notorious ethics of self-aggrandizement and
self-perpetuation in power.
How safe is our dear country in the hands of President Mills and his cohorts in
the NDC.
Indeed, the record books are overflowing with evidence of the Azoka Boys’
threats, intimidations and violence. The NDC party has perfected the use of
propaganda, intimidation and disinformation to keep a passive population calm.
In the process, a timid and innocent population has become quiet.
What one witnesses now are vagabonds harassing dissidents, terrorizing the
nation and intimidating opponents. In addition to the unrepentant tactics
orchestrated by the NDC, their hooliganism can easily plunge the country into
chaos and civil war. They come, tooting guns and brandishing cutlasses
(machetes), trying to drain out the electorates blood to the last drop.
In my candid opinion, the following measures must be adopted to solve the
problem we facenow.

The five basic effective resolutions to the problem:

* Firstly, the problem needs to be exposed. This has already been
exhausted through the media (radio, newspapers and television). The
journalists, editors and writers have done their business. This step has
already been utilized by the media.
* Secondly, the problem needs to be diagnosed.
* Thirdly, there is the need to prescribe a solution.
* The fourth is to implement the solution.
* And the fifth is to monitor it to see if is working; if not, the dosage
may be increased or an entirely new remedy tried.

The last four have been deliberately ignored by the government and the national
security system. The innocent and vulnerable people suffer at the hands of a few
evil hoodlums, for exercising their franchise. The freedom that is most critical
to the existence of all other human freedom is that of expression – the freedom
of expression and wishes through the ballot box without fear of reprisal.
Intolerance of alternative viewpoints is a disease that afflicts the ruling NDC
government, which could be traced back to the PNDC era. Instead of the “Better
Ghana Agenda” promised by President Atta Mills, the country is now witnessing a
‘Bitter Ghana Agenda.’ Two years away from yet another general election, how do
we prevent future occurrences?
After the media has exposed it, the government still remains adamant.
The noble nation demands an exigent and perpetual solution to such callous
political practices. The government lacks sincerity and commitment to address
the issue confronting the nation.
Is the northern part of the country allergic to development? Professional elites
like the Vice President, John Mahama, Hon. Alban Bagbin, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu and
other legislators who hail from that area and are supposed to stand up against
such callous acts, have remained tight-lipped.

Instead of giving the people education, they have rather given them deadly
weapons to kill their fellow country men and women. The party in power has
dumped the children in foreign countries, giving them better life.
If stringent measures are not taken now to disorganize the emerged terrorists
(Azoka Boys) as they prepare to gas on come 2012, a trivial political dispute
may easily escalate into a full-blown civil war.

We need to be guided by the Kokomba and the Nanumba conflict in 1994.
God bless Ghana!

JERRY AMPONSAH
KING SABBATO
NEW YORK