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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Columnist: Adjapong, Kwame

Let's make December 28 be about stamping-out Armed Robbery

In a week or so, Ghanaians will head to the polls again, this time to select among two men and two doctrines that are not inherently any different on the surface, for the presidency. If the presidential and parliamentary results from December 7 so far point to anything, it may very well be that the electorate does not like the status quo and seeks a change. However, the same electorate appears to be unsure of this new change they seek. And that is understandable since we really don't see what clearly separates the two sides: the NPP and the NDC. If you ask me, I would say the economic and social policies of these two parties are really not that different and so what does change really mean in our circumstance?

As the French novelist Alphonse Karr once remarked, "The more things change, the more they remain the same". On that thought, perhaps the average Ghanaian voter going to the polls this time around should use this election to demand one critical thing: a government that can assure and protect the citizenry from the one single problem that increasingly threatens to make Ghana a failed state: ARMED ROBBERY! And if you don't think it is a problem, take a look at neighboring Nigeria.

Ghana used to be a very fine, hospitable and peaceful nation, where the individual's safety was never in doubt. In the last eight years or so, that personal safety Ghanaians always took for granted has eroded with keen alacrity, as all kinds of criminals are allowed to roam the nation, guns and knives in tow, raping, pilfering, and stealing from homes in cities, towns and villages, and in the middle of roadways and highways with all kinds of makeshift roadblocks. What is interesting is that as the average Ghanaian suffers through these horrible things, the very government sworn to secure and protect the people from harm appears either paralyzed or completely impotent about doing anything, even marginal, about this problem. Or is it because all DCEs, MCEs, Ministers, and the Presidency, plus all those that matter, have 24-hour police security and only see this cancer as other people's problems?

If you listen to the two candidates, Nana Akufo-Addo and Prof Atta Mills, they seem very interested in convincing you about how they intend to lift Ghana into second world status with their economic plans and agenda. What they fail to talk about, or what the electorate has failed to demand from these men, is how they intend to secure and protect individual safety, which should be a pre-cursor to a peaceful, investor-friendly, and prosperous Ghana. The current government, under its watch, has seen the armed robbery canker escalated like never-before in Ghanaian history and has failed miserably to do anything about it. The irony is these two presidential candidates are both interested in attracting foreign investors to the nation to help create jobs and employment. Well, foreign investors are very smart people and they do not send their resources into communities where armed robbers and other violent criminals run amok unchecked. Do you see any serious foreign investors in Nigeria (outside of oil), Colombia, etc.? Hopefully, the picture is crystal clear on where we are heading as a nation if we don't reverse course on this canker.

Fellow Ghanaians, as we go to the polls on December 28, let this second time be a charm, and remember that it is our God-given duty and responsibility to do some serious soul searching. Mother Ghana's future and prosperity is at stake, perhaps more so at this time than ever before. Let's ask ourselves a simple question, "which of these two men can help arrest, contain and eradicate this increasingly armed robbery menace from our beloved Ghanaian society?” And please let us vote sensibly to help cure the Ghana we all love, at least we owe her that much! Ghana is bigger than any single party!

Kwame Adjapong, PhD Westchester County, NY