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Opinions of Saturday, 1 May 2010

Columnist: Appiah, Gifty Andoh

My lay point of view: Trust National Security?

When I was young, I nursed the idea of joining the military someday and was even more enthused upon realization that my physique was deemed appropriate by other people who tried one way or the other to sell the idea to me. My reason then for wanting to be a military person was an inexplicable attraction to the attire and how parades were conducted. The latter gave me goose bumps and still do as amusement runs all over me at how the word “Sir” ran through each and every sentence. I thought I saw discipline. “Fortunately” for me, my passion was drawn to something else; I would have been mired forever. I would have been in the military for misplaced reasons (which will of course affect my output in the field)-a mistake I believe most people of the security caucus have realized rather too late.

Growing up in the streets of Kaneshie, I saw many fights spring up with the least provocation yet anytime a police man arrived on the scene, everything calmed down. I wonder if the same can still be said. I guess we don’t respect them as much anymore. But who is to blame? Oh! Almighty BNI, the title used to send waters of admiration and respect down my spine until some of them were implicated in the “infamous” Aremeyaw video coverage of cocoa smuggling. I knew the least about the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) until a friend of my mother’s, after clearing a container carrying three cars, was left with some few personal effects and a debt of 12,500 Ghana Cedis.

The old adage goes:”if you play hide and seek with God, you are still within His reach/beneath Him. (If my interpretation is right.) That is how the security system looks like, we try to criticize their wrongful deeds but we still have to depend on them for our security. Though a few are professional and honest, It is scary enough knowing that your “protector” is the “compromiser” of your security and dreadful to think that there is virtually no escape because they will forever remain protectors of law . It is even worse when situations seem to overwhelm our very protectors. This is the situation we seem to find ourselves in as Ghanaians and maybe as a World.

It seems that no matter how much we say about that pot bellied man in blue shirt at the port, his pocket will forever be filled with dishonest cash. No matter how many of them are arrested for collecting and pilling up one cedi notes in brown envelopes, the wide eyed man in blue-black will continue saying “masa, ibi weekend oh!”, sometimes pulling along their brothers in green and brushing aside the thought that the few Cedis he is accepting to overlook a wrong deed can cost others their lives and properties. As for the gentleman who doesn’t have a uniform, the power vested in him will still be unnoticeably abused one way or the other.

The feature in which I summarized “the Ghana I know” and attempted to express my feeling about the kind of government I thought Ghana needed, received about 300 reactions in all from the public. It was commended, of course not without a ‘but” because I mentioned military rule. Insults were not left out either. My impression- everyone detests oppression and as a matter of fact anything that attempts to suppress ones freedom will be fiercely resisted by the Ghanaian. That for me, is the best attitude we have ever had. But we seem to have turned a blind eye to the glaring non -military revolution that is gradually engulfing the country-seizure of

Public toilets, public offices, and toll booths among others by one youth group after the other- a disturbing trend which once again has not eluded the stinking claws of politics. It even seems to have overwhelmed the security agencies, making it look as though one can be lawless and walk away with a broad smile as long as you act as a group and one whose government is in power-

Even a police officer couldn’t help but air his fears concerning arrests of such people. Many thought it was a misguided statement but I think he was saying it as it really is and we had better found ways of averting the disturbing trend instead of waiting till what happened between the colonial government, corporal Attipoe and his colleagues is repeated when these over-zealous groups attempt the castle. I trust that if not for anything at all, the men in green at the castle will not “spare the rod” to ensure the safety of the seat of government and ultimately that of the president.

I have not completely lost faith in the security caucus of this country but considering Anas Aremeyaw’s undercover report-the last straw- among others, the feeling of insecurity as a citizen of Ghana has only risen to higher heights as my confidence in them sinks into deeper seas.

The trail of some of the culprits is a good start but until government pay fair or equal price for cocoa as compared with neighboring countries, no amount of these officers being put in jail will stop these nefarious border activities. Until government (NDC, NPP ETC) resort to punish wrong doers without thinking of scoring or losing “political points”, until politicians avoid giving false hope and empty promises , the emerging “youth revolution” will blow up in our faces. There is the need for a complete overhaul of the security system-a difficult task of course- but a journey of a thousand miles definitely starts with preparedness of the mind and a step of diligence. Yes we can!

Gifty Andoh Appiah (giftdot@yahoo.com)