Opinion: Of Militias, Vigilantes, Malicious Scapegoating and Ghanaian Media and Political Culture by Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

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Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

If Multimedia’s Mr. Manasseh Azure Awuni were truly interested in facilitating the abatement or radical extirpation of the rank Ghanaian, Darwinian political culture of “vigilantism” in the country, then, of course, the most compelling approach to doing so ought to have been for the award-winning journalist and Joy-News’ Senior Correspondent to have begun from where it all, literally, began – my apologies to Prof. Lewis Carroll’s “Adventures of Alice in Wonderland.” The stark fact of the matter is that the Fourth-Republican culture of vigilantism has its indisputable roots smack in the apocalyptic emergence of, first, the Jerry John Rawlings-led erstwhile junta of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), and then the reemergence of Chairman Jerry John Rawlings on our national political landscape with his so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) junta.

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The latter junta spanned the period between December 31, 1981 and January 7, 1992. On the other hand, the convulsively short-lived AFRC junta spanned the bloody four-month period from June 4, 1979 to September 24, 1979. As well, whether Ghanaian leaders, scholars and intellectuals like it or not, we simply cannot proudly presume to progressively think and speak about the organic regionalization and the ethno-racial globalization of the proverbial African Personality, while at the same time pretending to possess our own unique and/or peculiar version of some of the most inescapably, politically loaded words of the most cosmopolitan spoken and written language on Planet Earth. And that is the English Language, of course.  

You see, the term “militia,” as used in the Joy-News’ documentary exposé captioned “Militia in the Heart of the Nation,” and produced and/or presented by Mr. Awuni, used the term quite correctly, however uncomfortably such usage of the term may sit with some officials and operatives of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). You see, the word or term “militia” refers to both the entire able-bodied citizenry of any country who could be called up or conscripted at anytime or in any emergency situation to fight in defense of our country alongside of the regular professionally trained members of the Ghana Armed Forces. At the same time, “militia” also denotes the culling up or the careful selection of a group of able-bodied men and women by operatives of a legitimately elected or established government of the day to either supplement or complement the size and strength of the standing or regular army.

The latter meaning or definition clearly appears to have been what the so-called De-Eye Group, alleged to have been founded by Nana Wireko Addo – aka Choman – a former bodyguard of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was inescapably about, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding . In sum, the De-Eye Group ought not to have necessarily been established with either the express knowledge and/or approval of President Akufo-Addo before it could be properly identified or classified as a “militia organization,” rather than a “vigilante group,” so long as there was a critical mass or number of highly placed Akufo-Addo cabinet appointees, such as appointees in charge of the country’s national security apparatus who were well aware of the existence of such an entity.

So far, it well appears that, indeed, there were official elements higher up in government who were fully aware of the existence and presence of the De-Eye Group of militia men and women at the Osu Christiansborg Castle, the former seat of government or the presidency. My one beef or grievance with Joy-News and the producers of the documentary under discussion presently, however, regards their clearly vengeful and malicious attempt to scapegoat the present government for an admittedly unorthodox practice or extra-legal security arrangement that far predates the present government and may very well have been recognized to be indispensable, primarily based on the violent historical and political track-record of the Rawlings-founded National Democratic Congress (NDC), at least within the strict confines or context of our present discussion of Fourth Republican Ghanaian Politics, and the very recent pontifical and unconscionably sanguine attestation to the same by former President John Dramani Mahama in the latter’s much-maligned “Boot-for-Boot” speech. Mr. Awuni has every right, of course, to fool himself into contritely believing in the non-vindictive character trait of his political archnemesis of yesteryear. I am on the latter score, of course, referring to the Rawlings-founded 64th Battalion Regimen, a practically privately owned NDC paramilitary establishment originally headed by Lt.-Col. Gbevlo-Lartey, specially trained by the Cubans for the purpose.

At any rate, why, for instance, had not the producers of the “Militia in the Heart of the Nation” logically roped in such Mahama-Woyongo-fangled or sponsored byelection outbreaks of violence such as infamously occurred at Talensi, Akwatia and Atiwa, among dozens of other parts of the country in order to make for a more balanced perspective on this perennial security menace? You see, there is an inescapable element of vindictiveness here, the very human trait that the author-producer of “Militia in the Heart of the Nation” rather wisely counsels the present government against, however attributively falsely such counsel may be in reality vis-à-vis the political and policy praxis of the previous Mahama-led regime of the National Democratic Congress.

In any event, the term “vigilante” properly denotes the establishment of a paramilitary group or organization operating without the express or official approval of the pertinent or relevant legitimately appointed officials of government, in this case, cabinet and other executive appointees so charged by statute or President Akufo-Addo. Among the paramilitary groups that may be aptly classified as “vigilantes” are those not affiliated with the legitimate authorities or, in our present context, the democratically elected government of the New Patriotic Party, namely, the Azorka Boys, the Hawks, the Lions and the Dragons, all of which are exclusively owned and operated by leaders of the present main opposition National Democratic Congress, with the hawk being allegedly owned and operated by Mr. Joseph Yammin, the former Deputy Asante Regional Minister and, before the latter post, Deputy Sports Minister. This also clearly explains why the Mahama government had the leaders of a South African mercenary-trained NPP-sponsored paramilitary organization arrested in the leadup to the last general election, on quite legitimate grounds that the only sanctioned military and paramilitary organizations in the country were those expressly and exclusively sanctioned by the constitutionally elected government of the day.

Which, of course, is not to necessarily imply here that militia groups associated with the ruling New Patriotic Party are more legitimate than those affiliated with the country’s main opposition National Democratic Congress. More so, when the leaders of the latter main opposition political party claim to be feeling inadequately protected by the national security establishment under the watch of the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party, in much the same way that while in opposition, the NPP leaders also endorsed the formation of pro-NPP vigilante groups as a legitimate means of guaranteeing the survival of their party and its leaders. It is, indeed, a vicious cycle, were the Dear Reader to ask for my opinion this subject-matter.

Ultimately, what is most significant to observe here is the dire need for the sort of journalism that is objectively forward-looking and problem-solving, not the sort of faux-capitalist and predatory “Anas-Mahama” journalism that viciously and self-righteously seeks to expose prime political opponents for the purpose institutional taming or controlling, on the part of Mr. Mahama, that is, and self-preening adulation with a killer-capitalist’s inordinate craving for humongous profits and God-complex fame or infamy. For Joy-News’ Mr. Awuni, on the other hand, the endgame may be the raw power of rudeness and reckless abuse of any legitimately and democratically constituted authority in an intellectually masturbatory act of sadomasochism and a quixotic sense of grandeur verging dangerously on self-apotheosizing narcissism.

The views expressed by this author remain solely their own and are not to be taken as the view of the Editorial Board of www.africanewsanalysis.com