Hamile border crossing in the Upper West Region
Hamile border crossing in the Upper West Region

Politics of marginalisation or misplaced priority?

Abuse of power in any form in a democracy is worrisome and must not be encouraged. This brings to mind the historical assertion by the Akans that ‘efie biaa, Mensah wo mu’, to wit every household has a third born, named Mensah. 


The ‘Mensah’ factor and the position held by the Mental Health Authority of Ghana that one in every five people in the country has some form of mental challenge, may be relevant in any attempt to explain abuse of power in our country.

If these theoretical claims were the dominant factors accounting for abuse of power in Ghana especially by security agencies and politicians, then victims of abuse could heave a sigh of relief, package their worries, anxieties and sense of helplessness and do what the people of Bongo-Balungu do best; cross their legs and squat on a stone, unable to sit, and give everything to God. 


However, the problem goes beyond the ‘fate-based Mensah conduct’ and the mental health-induced behaviour. This is what we must be concerned with because any attempt by dominant cultural, political, or economic groups to subordinate or exclude minority or less powerful individuals or social groups constitutes politics of marginalisation.

This can manifest itself through a variety of policies and practices, such as unequal access to education, employment, housing, movement and other political and social resources.

The reported abuse of people by some police officers, the ‘intelligence-led operation by the Ghana Armed Forces’ in Ashiaman, as well as the unwarranted attacks on people by supporters of ‘big men and women’ in our society, and the inability of the state institutions to address these concerns, are disturbing, to say the least.

But what is paramount today is the issue of marginalisation relative to the fight against terrorism, a fight we must all support.
It is interesting to note that the Ghana Immigration Service has ‘in-land’ borders in the form of checkpoints as part of efforts to prevent people from entering the country illegally, in a bid to prevent terrorism. While this may not be the devil, the parts of the country where these ‘in-land’ checkpoints are mounted and the modus operandi raise serious questions that cannot escape scrutiny in the politics of marginalisation literature.

First, officers at these checkpoints appear only to see and stop commercial vehicles, tricycles and sometimes motorbikes. They hardly stop V8 and most SUV users. Interestingly, the commercial buses they stop and search for suspected ‘illegal migrants/immigrants’ hardly include the STC, VIP, and OA kind of buses. The others; owned by ordinary people and perceived to be patronised by the less endowed economic class are very sensitive to these immigration officers.

The absurd part of it is that some passengers, whose faces look ‘unGhanaian’ are sometimes asked to produce Ghana Cards! Do Ghanaians look like the descendent of Anak; Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites and Canaanites?

Second, the operations appear dominant in the northern zone of Ghana, especially from the Bono East, Savannah, Northern, North East, Upper East, and Upper West regions. While there may be reasons for this, the composition is problematic. If it is ‘inland checkpoints’ aimed at ensuring that unauthorised people do not move beyond certain areas, then it must be done nationwide.

The Members of Parliament from these areas may not be concerned because we all prioritise our security over any other thing but, again the style of operation raises issues worthy of public discourse.


Third, it is vital to state that no citizen of any member country of the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS) is an illegal migrant in Ghana. In other words, citizens from ECOWAS member countries do not enter Ghana illegally; they have the right to free entry and are subject only to all necessary security checks that apply to Ghanaians as well.

The best way to prevent terrorists from entering Ghana is to implement stringent security measures at points of entry, such as airports and border crossings. We may also learn from other countries that employ biometric scanning and intelligence-sharing networks to help detect any potential threats before they enter the country.

The fight against terrorism is a serious business and must be tackled as such. If we cannot prevent criminals from entering the country through the porous points of entry, then searching to find them in tricycles and other passenger vehicles will be a ‘cos90 exercise’.

It is recommended that we maintain, improve and fortify our main entry points and use more of intelligence in the fight against terrorism. As such, all checkpoints in the Northern zone of Ghana purposely erected in the name of fighting terrorism must be removed. God bless our homeland, Ghana.

 The writer is a lecturer at the Department of Political Science Education, University of Education, Winneba.

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