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Opinions of Monday, 20 February 2017

Columnist: Abdul Hanan Mohammed EL-Saeed

National Security is a lot more than you think it is

By Abdul Hanan Mohammed EL-Saeed

In the minds of the uninitiated party vigilante youth who work as pseudo security guards for political parties. Anytime their party wins political power, then automatically they must graduate into full blown "national security operatives". They must quickly move to "take position" because their party has taken political control and power.

A gate man at the party headquarters must necessarily become part of the state security.

Little wonder why the invincible forces recently beat up a senior police officer two days after the swearing-in of a new president?

Yes, in their minds, once the political baton has changed from one party to the other, they assumed they were large and in charge and it was time to get to work and possibly to pay back those who treated them "unfairly" in opposition.

I wish I could talk a little about that unfortunate incident but due to circumstances beyond my control I am constrained and I will like to shelve it until sometime in the future.

Many times, I have heard people wonder when such errant misfits are reported that what or who exactly is that animal called National Security?

You can't question why those people ask those questions because obviously, some of the things that are usually reported can make one cringe in his seat.

Usually, when some people hear about National Security, the assumption is that it is some humongous gargantuan creature sitting somewhere at the seat of government that is occasionally set loose to come and cause havoc and go back.

Or it is some bungalow guard dogs that are unleashed as and government deems fit to come out and handpick some political opponents or bad guys in the system to teach them where power lies.

National Security goes beyond such thinking and mentality. It is the Alpha and Omega if you like as far as the security of the state is concerned.

It is the super league of all the security agencies of the country. It is where the security and wellbeing of the state is planned and executed if need be.

National security is not an animal neither is it a mysterious agent sitting somewhere. It is a set up where all the "somebodies" in the security and intel service meet. It is the apex of our country's security.

The preparedness of any nation against threats - external or internal such as terrorism, ethnico-tribal wars, religio-socio-cultural wars, espionage, spying, natural disasters, threats of biological and chemical weapons, invasion, trans-border crimes and influx of refugee, locust and insect crisis, etcetera etcetera, can be considered as eminent or present threat to the national security and peace of a country.

Because these threats exists in every human habitation, and because the state has various agencies and agents that deal with such threats as and when they manifest or present themselves, the state acting through the constitution - supreme law of the land and the security and intelligence agencies Act decided to have a central point of convergence for all these agencies be able to work properly and effectively.

That is why we gave to ourselves the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, Act 526 which makes provision for the National Security Council with a Secretariat and Coordinator to coordinate the activities of the Regional and District Security Councils responsible for implementing government policy on security.

And to attend to issues on or relating to the external security of Ghana and to provide for related matters.

The Council consists of the President, the Vice President, Ministers for the time being holding the portfolios of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Interior and Finance and such other Ministers as the President may determine.

It also includes the Chief of Defence Staff and two other members of the Arm Forces, the Inspector General of Police and two other members, one of whom shall be the Commissioner responsible for Criminal Investigations Department.

Others are; the Director General of the Prisons Service, the Commissioner for Customs, Excise and Preventive Service formerly CEPS and now Ghana Revenue Authority GRA and three persons appointed by the president.

To ensure the proper coordination of the activities of all the security and intelligence agencies both internal and external in the interest of the state, the president who is the chairman of the national security council, and as mandated by the Security and Intelligence Agencies Act, appoints the National Security Coordinator in accordance with the advice of the Council given in consultation with the Public Services Commission.

The responsibility of the National Security Coordinator shall be to; coordinate on day to day basis the activities of the National, Regional and District Security Councils as well as the activities of the Intelligence Agencies. Collate and evaluate intelligence reports relating to national security and dissemination of information within government as appropriate.

He also determines in consultation with the Directors of the intelligence agencies the manpower level requirements of the Intelligence agencies. He assists the relevant agencies to gather defence intelligence both internal and external and use the information to detect and prevent threats to the security of the state and perform such functions specified in the Act and as the president or the council may direct.

The above and many others that I will not be able to enumerate due to the constraint of space and time, are what National Security is and should be.

National security is not about political party footsoldierism nor vigilantism. Neither is it a conduit for subtle "transmoglification" or transmutation of political vigilante groups into the state security apparatuses.

National Security is not tokenistic agency where sheer tokenism is allowed. It is not supposed to be for little minds neither is it supposed to be for people with chicken brains where everywhere tom dick and harry is gallivanting around with one gadget or another with weapons they have no knowledge about parading themselves as national security operatives.

That is not national security - that is party security. Mind you! This is not in reference to any particular regime but applies to all other regimes since we started practicing this fourth republican democracy.

The intrusiveness and the state sponsored transportation of party political vigilante groups into the security set up is what I am referring to and the mass exodus of un-lettered individuals to the capital from all corners of the country anytime there is a change in political order seeking to be enlisted into the "national security". That is what I am talking about.

National security like I indicated earlier, is a vast all inclusive, all encompassing sensitive strategic congregation state security and intelligence institutions which should not be toyed with by politicians and political parties. It includes politico-social, religio-cultural, ethno-regional, economic, foreign policy, and internal and external issues. Usually very complex to deal with.

Because of these complexities, any government that gets its National Security equation right and properly in place vis-a-vis from council to coordinator, to security and Intel manpower, can be assured of a comfortable lead in terms of security and to some extent, stand to gain on the electro - political party space. Only hose who can decode this will understand what I mean by that.

When you choose a Coordinator who will tell a radio station that he is not a politician and that he doesn't do party politics when in fact, everybody knows that for one to be elevated to such a sensitive government position, you must be a dye in the wool party person.

This statement were the exact words of once upon a time a coordinator of the National security circa 2008. What some people saw a total betrayal that time.

So you get the drift of the political sensitivity? I hope you will understand.

This office is one office that any party that wants to stay in power and rule in peace or perhaps get reelected to a second term or more must get the selection of who becomes the especially National Coordinator right.

If you don't get it right, you are bound to taste political opposition. I have mentioned how the so called neutrality of a former National Security coordinator cost the Npp the 2008 elections.

Usually, when the coordinator is changed, it is either because some power brokers in the party thinks he has become a thin god or powerful and must be cut to size or some foot soldiers think his office is not accessible to them and so he must go for someone to come. The danger they do not see Is what you see below;

Before the 2008 elections, the Npp changed its national security coordinator and lost the elections.

In 2004 the Npp maintained its security coordinator and won the elections.

In 2012, the Ndc maintained its security coordinator and won the elections.

In 2016, the Ndc changed the security coordinator, and lost the elections.

I live you to do the analysis whilst I attend to other things.

I don't have a clue to give you more than what I have done but just to end by saying that the National Security is more than what you think it is. May be more!

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