It is 25 days since President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo issued an appeal to the leaders of the two main political parties — the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) — to agree on appropriate measures to bring an end to the unacceptable and worrying trend of party vigilantism in the country.
At his third State of the Nation address to Parliament, the President also directed the leadership of the NPP to extend an invitation to the leadership of the NDC within a week to initiate the exchange of ideas to see to the end of the worrying trend.
Unfortunately, the two political parties have woefully failed to take advantage of the President’s appeal to deal with the worrying scourge.
Rather, the two parties are neck-deep in cacophonies. It appears the two political parties are talking too much yet doing very little to disband their own vigilante groups.
Why has it become so difficult for the NDC and the NPP to disband their own vigilante groups? Why are the two parties wrangling over a third party mediator or a facilitator to direct them as to how to disband their own vigilante groups?
There is too much cacophony in our political discourse. Everything we do in the country is hinged on partisanship with little room for trust and tolerance of opposing ideas.
Clearly, deep mistrust has only made it so difficult for the NDC and the NPP to see eye-to-eye on the way forward. Which is a big shame.
Opportunity gone amiss
Thankfully, the President has initiated legislation on the issue with the voluntary disbandment of the vigilantes by the two parties taking too long a time or probably not feasible.
With the President’s focus now on the Attorney General (AG) to prepare a legislation to deal with the menace of vigilantism, both the NDC and the NPP have missed an opportunity to lead the way in discussing the disbandment of their own vigilante groups.
At best, both the NPP and NDC will now play a second fiddle role even though the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Mr Eugene Arhin, has clarified that the decision by the President to trigger the legislation does not suggest that the President has given up hopes of an expected meeting between the NDC and NPP on the issue of political vigilante.
Regrettably, our political parties have largely succeeded in sowing a seed of partisanship even in the church, mosque, market, security service, media and even within the civil society communities. We are no more thinking Ghana but party first.
The focus is always the next election while the job is left undone.
Challenge of enforcement
Today, we are talking about the peace of the entire country and no political party can be allowed to toy with it, hence, the issuance of the master card by the President tasking the AG to do the needful can only be a step in the right direction.
Now that the President has directed the AG to do the needful, I trust that the AG will act quickly so that the parliamentary process of enactment of a good and effective law which implementation will enable us rid the nation of politically related violence will come into fruition.
However, the critical challenge facing the country is one of enforcement. Some analysts have argued that some aspects of the existing Criminal Code if strictly enforced can be used to tame the scourge of vigilantism. Others are also of the view that the existing laws are not effective enough to deal with the issue of vigilantism.
Whatever the situation, Ghanaians’ expectations are very high and discerning people want to see tangible results and achievement to end the worrying trend of political vigilantism and not empty rhetorics.
If it is the President’s directive to the AG that will hopefully end the scourge of vigilantism, then so be it and we cannot ask for less.
The era where the two parties - NPP and NDC - always oppose each other for opposing sake must give way for a better and cordial working relationship that can only guarantee a better Ghana for all.
The thrust of rivalry, mistrust and insults are no more the way to go but consensus building should be the way out for the two dominant political parties if Ghana is to attain its development goal of a “Ghana beyond aid.”
For us to succeed as a nation, requires calmness and practical solutions to national issues.