Saturday, July 9, 2016, marked the UN Day for Arms Destruction. The Interior Minister, Mr Prosper Bani, and the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms marked the day by burning over 1,000 guns at the Trade Fair Centre. The minister promised to deal with small arms to ensure peace in Ghana and hopefully, destroy not only small arms but all the seized illegal arms smuggled by land and sea into our peace-loving and middle-income developing country.
On the issue of arms and national security, I think of an event that occurred in mid-2015. I received an SMS message on my phone about an evening meeting in my church, the Ridge Church, with a visiting pastor from Kenya. Immediately after I read the message, my phone, which was already on low battery, went off. Out of curiosity, because of snippets I had heard about Pastor Steve's messages, I made a conscious effort to endure traffic and get to the church on time. I watched and listened to him as he gave this narrative which at the time I considered rather strange, unbelievable but nonetheless worth noting. According to him, God asked him to travel to Ghana to give us a very urgent message. He had no money to travel to Ghana and had to sell his car at a mechanic's workshop to purchase a ticket and travel to Ghana. He was directed by the Holy Spirit to travel to Tema where he met a Good Samaritan who gave him a place to stay. According to his inspired message,
“The Church in Ghana which constitutes the body of Christ is dismembered and not united. Political extremism and idolatry are ruling Ghana. It is much easier now to contact God than to contact some men of God in Ghana. If the country continues on this path, it would result in the breakdown of peace, many months of civil unrests, displacement of persons, particularly women and children. A group of religious extremists would also join in the unrests which will worsen the turmoil. Thus, we were enjoined to pray for the peace and security of Ghana, while desisting from political extremism and idolatry.”
Incidentally, Pastor Steve left Ghana on September 16, 2015, the day the police mounted mayhem on unarmed demonstrators. One wonders about the training curriculum of the police when they are recorded fleeing from armed demonstrators at Ashaiman but attacking the unarmed. It rather took the military to curb the Ashaiman riots. Unfortunately, a few elements in the military have been reported visiting torture on some suspects of cell-phone thievery in the Northern and Upper East regions. Such military personnel may also need training in how to defend and protect not only the borders of Ghana, but also her citizens. Probably, some of the military “free hours”could be used to partner civilians in tomato, guinea fowl farming and road and building construction in the respective regions.
Recent events of seizures of large cache of arms in various parts of the country, visitations and relocations of former combatants and world renowned instigators of violence into Ghana, coupled with threats of war, forced marriage, sexual slavery and violence to be committed on a prominent female member of an arm of government, are enough cause for concern. Probably, a report could be made to the “UN Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict” to facilitate peace education and conflict prevention in Ghana. The frequent sexual symbolisation and humiliation of some female holders of public office could also be reported to the UN body and the “UN Special Rapporteur on violence against Women.” It is a terrible experience of women to live in a society that in one form or the other continues to devalue us irrespective of our achievements, accomplishments and our invaluable contributions to the economy and GDP.
The remarks by Atuguba JSC. In a contempt proceeding may need to be urgently transcribed, printed and disseminated. He said, "Politicians want to play chess with the people of this country. The 24 million people in this country cannot be taken for granted by a few people. Only few people run for political office. Some few subversive people will cause confusion and then run away. Some people don't care whether the country is on fire and the ordinary people suffer. The Court has a responsibility to enforce state authority to protect the ordinary people for whom the Court exists."
This is a message that is worth playing on radio on a daily basis. It must also be published by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Information Services Department and hung in conspicuous places of every ministry, department and agency of state and in district assembly offices. The EC should make it mandatory for all registered political parties to hang copies in all their national, regional and district offices and ensure that each of the 29,000 polling station executives read the message to party activists before the commencement of each of their meetings.
The Ghana Education Service (GES) National Board for Tertiary Education, Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) and National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) can similarly ensure compliance from kindergartens right to tertiary institutions to inform our future leaders who will be in charge of the public and other institutions within the coming decades. The Christian Council and Moslem Associations, as well as the National Houses of Chiefs and Association of Queenmothers, need to disseminate the message among their following and spheres of influence.
I wish to state emphatically and categorically that no cedi or other currency which has or would ever be earned by any public-office holder or any person who has or will have access to public funds drawn from the sweat, paid or unpaid toil of Ghanaian women, men, youth, children and from our God-given natural resources is worth a single drop of the blood of a Ghanaian citizen, resident or visitor.
May God empower us Ghanaians to be "Bold to defend forever, the cause of freedom and of right".
The writer is a lawyer & President, Women's Assistance & Business Association.