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Opinions of Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Columnist: Frank Kumi

Major Mahama did not die alone, he died with a thousand others

Government should ensure the trust fund rewards all heroes who die for the state Government should ensure the trust fund rewards all heroes who die for the state

On Monday 29th May 2017, social media was flooded with reports of a purported thief that had been lynched in an obscured town in the Central Region of Ghana called Denkyira Obuasi.

Many commentators did not care much because lynching of thieves in our part of the world is tolerable and a culture which we have come to accept even though many human rights groups have spoken against it. In most cases, these human rights activists are usually demeaned by society and are called all sorts of names.

However, when the events fully unfolded and we came to realize that the landmine that human rights activists had red-flagged this time blasted an honourable citizen who was on a state duty to this small town, the whole country was shocked and the actions of the perpetrators were described as barbaric.

Senior citizens called on the army to exercise restraint and allow rule of law to prevail. It was a period of mourning for the state especially when it became public knowledge that the murdered officer was related to Ex-President Mahama, precisely his nephew.

The nation concluded it was time we rid ourselves from such a barbaric culture and reform our approach in dealing with suspected criminals.

Major Mahama’s case should be the last and never again must we have an occasion of discussing lynching. As typical of the leopard that cannot shed its skin, within that same week whilst we were mourning Captain Mahama, stories of the alleged lynching of people suspected to be witches and mobile phone thieves were also reported on various news portals.

The state organised a befitting burial for the Captain and he was promoted to the rank of Major.

At the funeral, the President of the Republic indicated that a Trust Fund with the seed money of GH¢500,000.00 would be set up for the deceased's family to cater for his children and widow. The president then pledged a personal donation of GH¢50,000.00.

However, Ghanaians were surprised when on the 24th of October, 2017 it was reported on the various news portal that the Government had started processes to create a Trust Fund that will cater for the welfare of the family of the slain soldier, Major Maxwell Adams Mahama. The Major Mahama Trust Fund Bill, 2017 was introduced in Parliament, after Cabinet sanctioned it.

The seed money for the fund is going to be public money which would be charged on the consolidated fund. The question that comes to mind is why a trust fund should be set up with public money for a particular individual.

It is a fact that the manner in which the Major died was very sad and that he was on a state assignment when the tragedy happened but if a fund is to be set up it would be proper that it covers all persons that might fall victim to similar circumstances. What happens to the wives and children of the under listed;

1. Lance Corporal Robert Kumi Ackah, who was killed at dawn on Sunday when the OA passenger bus he was escorting to the Northern region was attacked by armed robbers on the road between Buipe and Kintampo.

2. Francis Gbeneh, 33 and his brother Timothy Gbeneh, 28, were gunned down by the police at the Mampong Midwifery Training School in the Ashanti Region school campus after a distress call by a female teacher that armed robbers had attacked her.

3. Tawiah, 27 who was a resident of Krofrom in Kumasi whom the police arrested and in the process beat him to death.

4. The killing of a policeman by robbers recently at Lapaz, etc.

All these cases have gone silent and the nation seems to have forgotten about them. Maybe these people are not related to the upper class in society hence their deaths do not matter. Assuming the events outlined inter-alia had caught one of the big fishes of society, would the nation have remained silent on it?

The attitude of our big men give credence to the perception that had Major Mahama’s fate befell any ordinary citizen; the dead person would have passed into silence unmentioned. It is time we move beyond the moral sentiments and adopt a long-term approach in addressing issues in this country.

Is the government saying a fund would be created for families anytime tragedy befalls its member who is on national assignment? If so how sustainable is this?

Government has gotten it wrong in the selective manner in which it is addressing this issue. It is only prudent that if a fund is to be set up then it should honour all our heroes, especially when the taxpayer is to bear the burden and not to favour only people connected to big men in society.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged the way its animals are treated”.

The least a nation can do for its citizens who sacrifice their life for their country is to offer a secured and stable life to the family he or she leaves behind, and this privilege should only include, but not limited to our beloved Major Mahama.

Our government should ensure the trust fund which we are not against in principle rewards all heroes who die for the state to enhance and inspire patriotism.