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Opinions of Friday, 3 October 2008

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Rawlings And Former Security Officers Meeting

: CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION OR NATIONAL INTEREST?

Appiah Kusi Adomako, Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, London

In this country everything, whether the appearance of the eclipse of the moon or the privatization of Ghana Telecom, is subjected to the same debate the alleged bloated voter’s register was subjected to. It appears there is not even a razor sharp line between a political and an apolitical issue in this country. And whenever we draw political meanings into issues of national concern it is the nation that suffers whilst politicians in Osu score cheap political points. Ghana is a big nation to be subjected to the whims and caprices of NPP and NDC stalwarts. About two weeks ago it was reported in the media that former president Jerry John Rawlings met with some former heads of security. The content of the meeting, we are told, was to discuss the ‘worsening’ security situation in the country. The meeting consisted of Lt. Gen. Arnold Quainoo, former General Officer Commanding the Ghana Armed Forces; Admiral Owusu Ansah, former Chief of Naval Staff; Brigadier Joseph Nunoo-Mensah, former Chief of the Defence Staff; Brigadier General Bruce Konuah, former Defence Adviser to Pakistan; Mr C.K. Dewornu, former Inspector-General of Police, Mr F.Y. Asare, former Regional Police Commander of Greater Accra, and Mr W.K. Aboah, former Commissioner of Police and Director of Immigration Service.

The aftermath of the meeting has generated a heated debate about its purpose. Opinions about the meeting have been politicised along NPP and NDC lines. Again, when this happens, it distils the fluid of essential thinking away from issues of national security. Every well meaning Ghanaian has the right to be concerned about the security of the nation because this is our country. In the words of Ephraim Amu ‘Yen Ara Asaase Ni’ might have motivated these retired security officers and lifted them from their bedrooms to be concerned about their country. They have expressed concern about the security of the nation. They have every right to express their mind and form associations provided it is does not threaten the security of the state. For the 1992 Constitution guarantees the freedom of expression, opinion, and association, provided it operated within the laws of the country. Knowledge borne from experience tells us that we cannot have two parallel security forces or hierarchies in a country. For there must be a unity of command in terms of national security. If former security officers in the country see something wrong in regards to the way things are being run, the best they can do is to meet in their private capacities as concerned citizens and a send memo to the Minister of Interior or National Security or the Inspector General of Police (IGP) or they could even request a meeting with the current security bosses in the country and bring their experience to bear on the way forward. There is no need to meet the media and express any concern. Meeting the media to talk about national security will only create more tension than it seeks to calm. For it would be irrational for anybody to assume that these retired officers do not have any experience to help the nation. It is only the feeble-minded person who would fall into this temptation.

For it may be a constitutional right for them to assemble and form an association in whichever way one interprets the constitution. For national security is something which cannot be used to score political points. I do not believe that the group wants to be known so as to gain public sympathy or to give the impression that the NDC has got a pool of sound national security experts like the Republican Party in the US has Senator John McCain on national security. The National Security Council has responded to the action of these seven former service commanders and has consequently banned them from military and police installations and garrisons with immediate effect and until further notice. Dr Sam G. Amoo, National Security Coordinator, does not want national security to be usurped. Maybe history might have been his greatest teacher. He has a series of concerns when the group is headed and championed by former president Jerry John Rawlings, someone who has three coup d’etat on his curriculum vitae, of which two of them were successful. Rawlings was someone who put the nation under the iron feet of military dictatorship. Is it the case of another June 4th or 31st December? We might decide to test the ban of the seven in a court of law to decide whether it is legal or illegal. We must also know that the security of the nation has been entrusted in the hands of some people who are paid with taxpayer’s money and have sworn to defend the constitution. As we draw near to the December elections we must not do anything to short circuit the security of the nation. Any attempt to usurp the powers of the constitution would send the nation backwards. Examples of countries that have been torn apart by violence are many. It is always better to learn from someone’s mistake than that of your own. Some years ago Arnold Toynbee said that two hundred civilizations have risen on the face of the earth. All of these have descended into the junk heap of destruction. The demise of these civilizations was not caused by external invasion but rather internal decay. Do we want Ghana to descend into the junk heap of destruction like Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, etc? The answer must be no.

The security of the nation is paramount. An abundance of money cannot buy security. It takes only the determined goodwill of all stakeholders. We need to work hard to achieve a secure nation where the lion and the lamb can lie down together and none would be afraid and where everyone would beat his ploughshares into pruning hooks. The constitution of the nation is also paramount. It needs to be respected - whether in guaranteeing the people’s right to free movement or protecting the constitution from any misguided person with diabolical intention.

Mr. Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance writer and professional speech writer. He can be contacted through e-mail: appiahkusiy2k@yahooo.com