In the last couple of weeks, the issue of political vigilantism has been running.
Are we the same people who are celebrating twenty-five years of the Fourth Republic? Are we the same people who at one point in time or the other stood against any form of thuggish elements used by our opponents?
Did we benefit from the efforts of these thugs in the past and later declare that we do not need them to win an election?
Oh, what preachers of virtue we are; yet we have been perpetrators and beneficiaries of vice!
The Emile Short Commission is giving us the opportunity to understand how members of political vigilante groups have been given sensitive positions in this country under the watch of those who preach virtue.
No wonder, these thugs receive a slap on their wrists when they commit any crime. Again, no wonder President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo concisely describe the issue of political vigilantism sometime last as “a source of worry.”
Words, no action. It is good to recollect history. But we recollect history so as to make us wiser than those who had gone ahead of us. It is said that when a frog in front falls in a pit, others behind him take caution.
It is of no use referring to the wrongs of a past government when a political party has the reins of power and can use the opportunity to declare how different she is from her opponent.
Again, the revelations at the Emile Short Commission emphasises how helpless the police hierarchy is. In a recent video that went viral, ACP Dr. Agodzor, Director of Transformation Programmes Office of the Ghana Police Service complained of how the politically structured hierarchy of the Police Council has a negative impact on the professionalism of the police when it comes to going after politically motivated crime. However, no efforts are in sight to address this constitutional matter.
Reading, “Going to town” and “Fireman Series Ogyakrom: The Missing Pages of June 4 TH”, both collections of Professor P.A.V. Ansah of blessed memory and Professor Kwesi Yankah respectively, one is exposed to the days of military rule where thugs were used to quell demonstrators and “people were transformed into ghosts”.
Even in the early days of the Fourth Republican Constitution, there was the use of thugs against dissenting views – a phenomenon that was vehemently opposed in the writings of P.A.V. Ansah.
One expects that at this level of patting ourselves on the back for sustaining and nurturing constitutionalism, the phenomenon of vigilante groups will not rear its ugly head. Sadly enough, men and women who profess to be peace-loving politicians are perpetrators and beneficiaries of political vigilantism.
In the President’s State of the Nation Address a fortnight ago, he threw an invitation to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the discussion of measures of disbanding political vigilante groups.
Mr. President, did you dialogue with the opposition to allow the formation of vigilante groups in your party? It is said, the steps one employs in climbing a tree should be the same steps one should employ in getting down from that same tree. Mr. President, over to you.
While the President was doing this, the NDC should have shown maturity and immediately disband The Hawks and The Azorka Boys in their fold. Instead, they went ahead to write a letter of sweet nothings which the President replied in like manner. One sits back and wonders if these political parties are interested in disbanding the vigilante groups?
A clarion call is issued: the leadership of the NPP and the NDC should take note that we don’t want them to exchange letters of sweet nothings; we don’t want them to call for a dialogue to disband vigilante groups; we don’t want them to tell us that they don’t need thugs to win the forthcoming elections; instead, they should go and pluck the feathers of The Hawks; inject The Bolga Bulldogs with a dosage of rule of law and regard for human rights vaccines as well as send them home; and, allow the Invincible and Delta Forces as well as the Azorka Boys to go and learn a skill or two, so as to live as law-abiding citizens, not rogue spectators.
When they have done the above, we will live in the land Dr. Kwame Nkrumah ingeniously outwitted all to declare free forever without thinking of who will be slapped, abused or shot at during any elections. For they have nothing to lose except the unenviable tag of being in the act of employing the services of vigilante groups.
Columnist: Alex Blege
The writer is a freelance journalist.