I have been amused and intrigued at the same time by ongoing developments since the President spoke about the need to end vigilante activity in our politics in the State of the Nation Address delivered to Parliament on February 21 and carried live in the media.
These developments have been very revealing of the commitment of our political actors to the solution of national problems.
But before I examine facets of this matter bordering on personal and national security of our dear country, I have been scandalised by a series of interviews conducted by the Accra radio station Gold FM with relatives and Western regional and national police officers in the middle of this week.
Kidnapping is a very serious felony but the way and manner the police are allowed to carry on such lackadaisical investigations is mind-boggling and stupefying.
The two combined, political vigilantism and kidnapping, are the principal contributors to the state of insecurity bedeviling the nation.
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Nothing so far has been done by political leadership to seize the initiative in a productive manner regarding these two problems.
Whereas the problem of vigilantism has been laid squarely on the political parties, kidnapping is a police matter.
What is amazing in the kidnapping stories is the absence of civilian political leadership in the resolution of the kidnapping cases.
One just cannot believe we have full ministers and their full-time deputies for the Interior, National Security and Defence and still it persists.
The interviews I listened to stunned me.
How can a senior police officer open his mouth and tell complainants that they are disturbing him because others have been kidnapped for longer periods without resolution, and go on to add that he is a lawyer too and if he is sacked, he has another career to enable him to live a comfortable life? Please Honourable Ambrose Dery, our Interior Minster, just activate the process to both sack and disbar from legal practice such an unfeeling public servant from the police and the practice of law in this country. He is a shameless disgrace to both the police and the practice of the law in Ghana.
Lack of engagement
As if such a statement from a responsible officer is not enough, the police have shown amazing lack of engagement in this matter as if it is akin to pickpocketing at Makola.
We know the police are overstretched and understaffed but these drawbacks do not begin to explain in any way the lackadaisical, carefree attitude of the police and I am personally surprised that strategic transfers, disciplinary measures and other acts have not taken place to infuse at least the Western Region police with the zeal required to solve this very painful problem of kidnapping.
Another example, when called for the national police view of this kidnapping matter, was Deputy Commissioner of Police David Eklu who was more concerned about his correct title as director general than the subject in hand.
Why do we have such pathetic human beings serving us? For people to be kidnapped in broad daylight, and none have been tracked and freed by the police is a blot on the entire police, and our elected government whose civilian ministers are their ultimate commanders.
They even claim inaction because the alleged kidnapper is not naming the cops who assisted him to escape an amazing story that seemed to satisfy the police as an adequate explanation for this criminal disaster.
This sickening incompetence is matched only in current discourse by the matter of vigilantism and the aftermath of the presidential directive to ban them.
As I write, the President has written once in response to the proactive opposition National Democratic Congress letter by its chairman, Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, and the reply of the chairman on the subject, interspersed with interesting and fascinating rejoinders and assists by interested and named or copied parties, and the remarkable input of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
I am still trying to understand the position of the President, now decried by some commentators and observers, and it makes you wonder why these things happen.
Exactly what is wrong with having a mediator to facilitate movement, implementation, and activist mediation of knotty points? What is lost when other parties are included in the presidential idea of a roundtable? If vigilantism is a national canker, then all must be involved in eradicating it or?
I note with wry satisfaction that the CSOs seem to agree with the NDC position on the fundamentals to be sorted out prior to sitting down to the disbandment conference.
These fundamentals, facilitation and all parties inclusive, do not qualify as preconditions and those who say this are deliberately delaying matters for partisan advantage.
It appears the presidential idea has taken on a life of its own, support for it or amendments to it, are wrongly assumed to be the disbandment itself.
I am further amused by the fanciful history of vigilantes in our politics, whether taken from the 1950s or the 1990s to the present.
The historical excursion explains nothing that is happening today.
Historical memory is a dicey thing, as it teaches us what to avoid in the present and for the future and not to repeat the mistakes of the past, since we grow forward not backwards.
To quote one particularly ridiculous example, the story of presidential security is absolutely irrelevant to present discourse because they were never an issue in the second and third republics.
When present in the First Republic they were not for electoral malpractice nor political misuse as the vigilantes of today, even when we moved towards the one-party state and associated undemocratic practices.
In the end, success would be achieved by the clear and abundant exhibition of the bona fides, that is the good faith of the parties.
This is so because it is heartening that more groups whether invited by the two parties or not, are getting involved in a matter that if not confronted head on, can destroy the democracy we have. Ghanaians deserve and want peace in our politics.