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Opinions of Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Columnist: K. Badu, UK

Didn’t NDC actually invent Ghana’s unbridled vigilantism?

Much as Ex-President Mahama was absolutely right for condemning the abhorrent and unbridled vigilantism in Ghana, he was, frankly speaking, not right for suggesting that it was rather the NPP Party that introduced vigilantism into Ghana politics (See: Mahama jabs NPP over uncontrolled vigilantism; graphic.com.gh/ghanaweb.com, 30/10/2017).

The said NPP youth, to be quite honest, have been going overboard lately and must be condemned in no uncertain terms.

In as much as the NPP youth in question worked selflessly and strenuously to ensure the election of President Akufo-Addo, their disgusting actions cannot be condoned by well-meaning Ghanaians.

But all said and done, the apparent hypocrisy and the dishonesty being exhibited by some members of the opposition NDC really bothers me, I must confess.

Well, in so far as some of the NPP youth conduct is completely out of order, I do not think it is right for the NDC operatives to seek to exonerate themselves from any blame in respect of uncontrolled vigilantism in Ghana.

In any case, much as discerning Ghanaians have every right to ventilate their arousing disgust over the seemingly reprehensible conduct, it would be absolutely wrong for the experienced politicians like Ex-President Mahama to seek to suggest that the said youth’s despicable behaviour is alien to Ghana politics.

I have always maintained that some of us were old and fortunate enough to have witnessed the revoltingly ugly events which took place over a period of three decades (1970-1990s) and therefore cannot be hoodwinked by the propagandists.

No true patriot, as a matter of fact, and honesty will ever support lawlessness. In that regard, some of us will rightly support genuine calls to disband such groups.

However, the glint of hypocrisy being displayed by some members of the opposition NDC cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

It is disheartening to continue reading and listening to the groundless claims from the NDC quarters that it was the NPP Party that introduced vigilantism and lawlessness into Ghana politics.

Well, I am pretty sure that there are numerous vigilante groups in Ghana, including those in the camp of the opposition NDC. So why are the opposition NDC operatives only finding it convenient to limit their scope to the ‘Invincible and Delta Forces?

Apparently, it was the founders of the NDC Party who introduced vigilantism in Ghana. The extent of the harassment we received from the paramilitary groups which were created by the founders of the NDC Party was out of this world.

If we stroll down memory lane, in their desperate attempts to defend their illegitimate power and lay the foundation for a supposedly true democracy in Ghana, the PNDC regime created a controversial countrywide network of People's Defence Committees (PDCs) and Workers' Defence Committees (WDCs), reorganised and renamed, in late 1984 as Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDRs) whose collective mandate was to defend the revolution by hook or by crook.

“The PDCs and the WDCs (Workers Defence Committees) had their own courts and "meted out justice according to no established legal procedures” [Amnesty International, 1983).

The CDRs were established in villages, urban communities, and workplaces and intended to be the organs of popular power and political initiative.

In addition, Forces' Defence Committees were established in the armed forces and the police service.

It was alleged that the principal functions of the CDRs were to ensure democratic participation in decision making in all communities and workplaces; to guard against corruption, abuse of power, sabotage, and social injustice; and to promote sustained national productivity by focusing efforts on the productive sectors of the economy.

The other mass organizations of the revolution were the National Mobilisation Program, the Civil Defence Organisation (the militia), the National Youth Organising Commission, and the June Four Movement.

Apparently, the National Mobilisation Program started as an emergency programme to receive and resettle Ghanaian returnees from Nigeria in 1983. It soon developed into a cooperative movement engaged in a variety of economic and community development projects throughout Ghana.

The Civil Defence Organisation, popularly known as the militia, was set up as a paramilitary institution to assist other state organizations in national emergencies such as invasions, bushfires, and floods. Members received special training in combat readiness to defend the nation against internal and external aggression and economic sabotage.

The militia, in addition to combating crime in local communities, engaged in voluntary social and economic activities to help promote community development. In this effort, it was often assisted by the National Youth Organising Commission, created in 1982 as part of the PNDC's efforts to establish a youth movement to carry out the objectives of the 31st December 1981 Revolution.

The June Four Movement was a militant mass revolutionary movement dedicated to keeping alive the ideals of the June 4, 1979, uprising that Rawlings had led. It sought to arouse the population at large to assist in establishing so-called people's power within the avowed objectives of the revolutionary process.

Before the establishment of the district assemblies in 1989, the PNDC government was able to reach the rural population and to broaden its base of support by direct consultation.

This was achieved through chiefs, the CDRs, and other national bodies such as the Democratic Youth League of Ghana, which in 1988 claimed a nationwide membership of more than 100,000. Other such groups included farmers' organizations, market women's associations, trade union groups, students' organizations, and religious and other bodies.

Nevertheless, the PNDC's political opposition back then vehemently contested the democratic nature of such organs and saw them as nothing but state-sponsored vigilantes engaged in intimidation and human rights abuses (Source: U.S. Library of Congress).

Somehow, it is being alleged that when Ghana returned to democratic rule, some members of the paramilitary groups who could not get the opportunity to join any of the security services bolted with their guns and infiltrated the major political parties in the country.

And, we have unfortunately sat back over the years and allowed the boisterous homicidal brats and other paramilitary groups to cause havoc to innocent Ghanaians.

Given the circumstances, it would be hypocritical on the part of the opposition NDC operatives to attempt to put all the blame on one particular party with regard to the creation of vigilante groups in Ghana.