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Opinions of Sunday, 17 February 2008

Columnist: Ayisi, Gabriel A.

Corruption Endangers Our Safety

Lady: Officer we are being attacked by armed robbers

Officer: How did you get our number?

Lady: Please officer; we are being attacked with machetes and guns.

Officer: We have no vehicle to move to your address.

…and that was the end of the emergency call. The officer involved did not even have the courtesy to relay the SOS call to other security personnel. The above happened in Ghana over the week end when a family being attacked at 2 am placed a call to a nearby police station (Ghanaweb February 13, 2008).

Is this how Ghana’s Homeland Security operates to safeguard Ghanaian citizens? WHOSE FAULT IS IT? Is it the fault of the police or is it the fault of the government? Fellow citizens, through unchecked corruption, wanton embezzlement of public funds, and lack of accountability, Ghanaians are being deprived of our economic, human, and civil rights. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that our security personnel are adequately resourced and effectively equipped to deal with the armed robbery menace in Ghana. If the robbery perpetrators know that this is going to be the response of our security personnel, they will be emboldened to continue with their nefarious activities.

This is the reason why, as a people, we must stand up and demand justice through accountability and responsibility of our elected politicians and every public official. When someone embezzles public funds you and I are being deprived of our safety and individual human development. Money that could have gone into hospitals, roads, schools, electricity, well equipped police force, etc., are finding their way into the pockets of individuals (politicians and public officials). How come politicians, who until they were elected into office who had nothing, now have several houses, multiple vehicles, and fat bank accounts over a couple of years while some of our police stations do not have vehicles, or communication equipment (police radios/phones) with which to respond to emergencies? Is it not a shame that our politicians, instead of developing first class hospitals in Ghana, travel abroad for medical treatment leaving the ordinary Ghanaian at the mercy of few and poorly equipped hospitals in Ghana? Most recently and sadly, Professor Atta Mills had to travel to South Africa for a simple cataract operation and a sinus problem, which inadvertently resulted in the speculation of his “demise”.

Even if at the time the lady called there were no police vehicles available at the precinct, the officer in charge or the officer who responded should have relayed the call through radio to other police personnel of another nearby police precinct or transit police. Well perhaps they do not have CB radios either.

Not until the government becomes responsive to the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian’s safety through adequate resourcing of our security personnel, we must rely on a network of next door neighborliness. Every household must make sure that it exchanges phone numbers with the immediate surrounding five houses, so that in case of emergency a call can be put through to the neighbors to summon help.

Lastly, we must take corruption seriously because it compromises our national and individual safety as well as our general well being as individuals and as a nation.

By Dr. Gabriel Ayisi, New York.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.