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Opinions of Friday, 16 April 2004

Columnist: Akyeampong Kobby

Rejoinder: On Matters of National Security the Kufuor Administration Must Remain Vigilant

It is very obvious from reading this piece that the writer is indeed a novice and has a shallow understanding of what constitutes national security in a developing country such as ours. The writer? use of the term national security in terms of surveillance that culminates in the misuse of the state police, military and intelligence outfits does not pass the litmus test in real security discussions. It is amply obvious that the writer does not know that the very simple issue such the availability of basic food, that is overlooked by politicians, is a national security problem.

For starters let us use a broad definition of what constitutes national security. Aptly defined, national security is anything and everything, tangible or intangible that has the propensity impact the society in a negative manner that often results in chaos and crisis of confidence. Thus any economic, social-political and cultural issues that does not promote the cohesion of the entire society become a national security problem.

The writer? narrow angle from which he presents the partisan misuse of the nations? security outfits for the benefits of the NPP government is a sad reflection of the thought process that this government has. That, the current NPP government is facing a crisis of confidence and has therefore resorted to the use of the state security outfits to harass and intimidate members of the viable opposition is an understatement.

?Democratic peace? which forms the basis of national security, has constantly eluded many political parties and scholars argue that the history of conflict suggests that parties in a democracy are less likely to start harassing political opponents and seek to use the state security outfits as a solution to inter party disagreements. The question that has to be answered is that is the government of the New Patriotic Party abiding by the tenets of this time tested notion? The answer is a big no for several reasons.

One very important factor that the NPP government is currently overlooking for political expediency relates to the fact that democratically elected leaders are normally dependent on parliaments or legislatures for funding authority( the power of the purse) and this greatly restrains the ability of the executive branch to engage in the misuse of the state security system for their selfish ends.

Quite frankly, the very process of democratic politics itself contributes to peace and a stable national security environment. This is due to the fact that democracy places a value on willingness to compromise and seek consensus solutions rather than the zero ? sum calculations that often guide tribal based parties such as the NPP. In essence, there is always a preference for negotiation rather than confrontation to resolve issues and disagreements.

The fact that is lost on the NPP government is that a stable national security environment will only emanate from its actions and in actions. In terms of real actions, one wonders what this government has achieved in terms of its numerous campaign promises which have not been fulfilled and have left the majority of Ghanaian seething and grinding their teeth at the level of incompetence and deceitfulness of this government.

At this point let us examine a few actions of this government that has created a national security crises-

The president uses funds from the national coffers to renovate his private residence for which Ghana will not benefit because it is his private property. He is not required under any laws of the land to relinquish the use of this property to the state after this tenure in office. This is just stealing pure and simple. The reason why this is stealing is that the state of Ghana has accomodation for any sitting president and that is the Castle at Osu. For Ghana to have benefited, the renovations should have been at Osu and not the president? private property. What happened to the power of the purse residing in the legislative branch of goivernment?

Another action that impinges on Ghana? security is the role that the president? brother who doubles as the minister for Defense plays in the importation of rice into the country. It is no secret that the president? brother is the largest importer of rice in Ghana by virtue of the Armed Forces procurement system which has been hijacked by the minister. The is a corrupt practice that reduces the cohesion in our national security. It is an abomination to use the resources of a military establishment for personal gain.

Another issue relates to the killing of the Ya Na and forty- three members of his court in broad daylight but for which no one has been apprehended for possible prosecution. What on earth is this government doing about this callous murder. What are the fears on other tribal leaders particularly those who are obviously not in the good books of this government. What happened to government of the people, by the people and for the people?

It is necessary to observe some glaring inactions of the NPP government. What has been the governments official position on the misuse of state position for private gain- I can cite a litany of examples- IFC scams, Sahara Oil deal, Bambagate, financial loss to the state caused by Wireko Brobbey, visa scams with the active involvement of officialdom, moral ineptitude on the part of government appointees, deliberate appointment of direct and indirect relatives of president in positions of state, the wanton application of state resources for pleasure trips by president and his coterie of ministers, tribalism, corruption and the simple inability of this government to tell the truth in all circumstances.

These are real issues that have promoted the current crises of no confidence in the NPP government for which it is bent of making scape goats out of the political opposition.

My advice for the NPP government is simple this ? democracy and national security are closely related. Without an unbiased look at the actions and inaction of this government, it will be very difficult for Ghana? young experiment at democracy to flourish. The NPP government? attempt at covering it eyes to the very obvious situations by intimidating and harassing political opponents will not secure the country.


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