The recent issuing of a strongly worded statement by the President of the Ghana National House of Chiefs, Professor John S. Nabila, admonishing our national security agents, particularly the police, to conduct themselves with professional poise, could not have come at a more opportune moment (See “House of Chiefs Cautions Security Agencies, Politicians” Ghanaweb.com 4/21/12).
One, however, wonders where the executive membership of the NHC was when some hotheaded chieftains from the Volta Region, spearheaded by the Awomefia of Anloga, brazenly attempted to influence the outcome of Election 2012, by cynically constituting themselves into a partisan arbitration team with the sole aim of “reconciling” former President Jerry John Rawlings and his former arch-lieutenant, the now-President John Evans Atta-Mills, in a bid to having the former to campaign for the latter.
In reality, what the key operatives of the National House of Chiefs ought to be doing is to call for the immediate establishment of an independent police-/security-monitoring team, with branches in all the regions and districts of the country, in order to ensure the prompt and equitable administration of justice. Such a call could be initiated in Parliament, and the membership of the monitoring teams could be drawn from a cross-section of Ghanaian society, comprising of scholars and intellectuals, professionals and ordinary law-abiding citizens.
As of this writing, almost every levelheaded and well-meaning Ghanaian citizen was of the unassailable opinion that so have our national security agencies and agents become politicized that it is next to the outright impossible to expect justice and fair play from the men and women charged with the same. Several weeks ago, in the wake of wanton violence that rocked a number of locations across the country where the biometric voters’ registration exercise was in full swing, some key operatives of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) even called for the resignation of the Inspector-General of Police, on the grounds that the latter had become an incorrigible partisan agent of the Mills-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
In any case, merely “ hoping and praying that the security agencies will do their work without fear or favour, and always remain neutral as required by the laws of the land,” is a rhetorical platitude that would not amount to much. Rather, what needs to be done is for the people, fervidly led by their traditionally invested rulers, leaders and activists, to studiously monitor the activities of the men and women sworn to facilitating societal peace and tranquility, and to ensure that these personnel staunchly uphold the tenets of their professional mandate.
Indeed, the chiefs, themselves, could also regularly sponsor non-partisan community-education programs on such critical topics of national development as health clinics and lecture presentations, sanitation, home economics or domestic budgeting, parental responsibility, and the responsible exercise of the franchise. That it took so unbearably long for the chiefs to publicly express their utter displeasure and chagrin with the abjectly poor linguistic quality of political discourse may well have a lot to do with the constitutional prohibition of chiefs from active engagement in partisan politics.
Nonetheless, beyond the flagrantly partisan, there is much more in the political arena to which our invested traditional rulers could meaningfully contribute in a bid to advancing both the cultural and material development of the country. And already, some major traditional rulers, notably the Asantehene and the Okyenhene, are positively poised to doing the same.
Indeed, the greatest challenge confronting Ghana’s Fourth-Republican democratic culture regards the constructive forging of a balance between unfettered public self-expression – or free speech – and the responsible exercise thereof. This is what genuine leadership is all about. For contrary to what its staunchest Ghanaian critics would have the rest of us believe, political tension, in of itself, is not necessarily such a bad thing. In fact, imaginatively harnessed, tension could be a positive and constant reminder of the imperative need for our elected, as well as appointed, leaders to cultivate an evenhanded temperament that will enable the very best of our politicians to admirably transcend the inescapably cynical realm of partisanship into the glorious realm of statesmanship, where the greater good of the nation becomes the overriding concern of effective leadership.
Needless to say, it is precisely because for twenty years the Rawlings-led Provisional National Democratic Congress (P/NDC) enforced an unhealthy culture of silence, amidst the wanton perpetration of corruption and tribalism, that an otherwise dynamic and progressive member of the august Ghanaian parliament like Mr. Kennedy Ohene Agyepong, for example, could angrily and retributively call for an open season of mayhem against some members of the very ethnic group of which Mr. Agyepong claims to have fathered four children! And, needless to say, it is all well and good that the Assin-North MP has come out to publicly apologize for his otherwise inexcusably intemperate use of language that could well have set the nation on an irreparable course of destruction.
What is equally imperative, and what many otherwise well-meaning Ghanaian citizens seem to have conveniently either forgotten or ignored, is the consonant and/or reciprocal need for intransigently and pathologically divisive Ewe leaders like Messrs. Jerry John Rawlings, Kpegah, Awoonor, Koku Anyidoho, Dogbe, Okudzeto-Ablakwa and Woyome, to name a few among a legion, to be equally held accountable for their deliberate, systematic and perennially cultivated anti-Akan rhetoric of abuse and brutal extra-judicial assassinations.
And, if, indeed, we all accept the rather basic ratiocinative premise that Ghanaians have nowhere else to immigrate, in the avoidable event of some of our leaders irresponsibly setting the nation irreparably ablaze, then it is about time that sanity was allowed to reign before it is too late.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Danquah v. Nkrumah: In the Words of Mahoney.”
The opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of www.africanewsanalysis.com and www.africa-forum.net