MANASSEH’S FOLDER: Why Victimised NPP does not deserve our sympathy
By Manasseh Azure Awuni
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) is under serious political persecution. That is the glaringly awful spectacle any objective watcher of our disturbing political scene would see. But I don’t think the NPP deserves the sympathy of Ghanaians in this regard. If you give the NPP power tomorrow, they will do exactly what the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government is doing. And I don’t think the NDC would deserve anybody’s sympathy, if they were given a spoonful of the bitter tonic they are gleefully brewing with pettiness, vindictiveness and mindless intoxication with political power.
Let us begin from the beginning. Let us understand why I think the NPP is being persecuted or politically victimised. Not long ago, a pro-NPP group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), embarked on a demonstration to demand a new voters’ register. The police accused them of going beyond the agreed route. The barbaric brutalities that greeted could only be witnessed by countries whose systems of governance do not bear any semblance with democracy and the rule of law.
The unarmed protestors were chased by riot police. They ran for their lives. Some were overpowered. Others surrendered. They knelt and raised their hands. But that was not enough to pacify the police officers who beat them up mercilessly. Some were injured. A man who had gone out to exercise his democratic right lost an eye. But no police officer lost sleep or a rank over the mindless brutalities. Why? The victims were members of the opposition party, the NPP.
Last week the communication machinery of government released a propaganda material to the media. The Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) had arrested three South African security consultants who were training the security detail of the NPP’s flag bearer and his running mate. The BNI said the action posed national security threat. Even though they are yet to tell us how, the propaganda statement linked the action to recent threats of terror on the country.
Two months ago, President Mahama brought in two toxic packages from the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay. The two terror suspects were brought in under very mysterious circumstances. The Interior Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister, who are both members of the National Security Council, did not know details of their coming. Highly placed sources say the Inspector-General of Police was not aware of their coming. One of the terror suspects was said to be a high risk, following an assessment by the US government. But our President said he accepted them on the grounds of compassion. The Americans who created the detention centre would not accept the terror suspects on American soil because they posed a threat to America and its allies. Our President said we were America’s allies.
Government Communicators, notably deputy Communications Minister, Felix Kwakye Ofosu, told us that the toxic parcels from Guantanamo were merely terror suspects. He and others argued that no court of competent jurisdiction had pronounced them guilty of acts of terrorism so they posed no threat. Last Saturday on Joy FM’s Newsfile programme, the same Felix Kwakye Ofosu, said one of the South Africans in custody had visited Iraq several times so his presence in the country should be of security concern. I wonder if he thinks the rest of us have cow dung concealed in our skulls and so cannot spot the contradictions.
Last Thursday, the BNI sent the South African suspects to court and the court granted them bail. We are told the court ordered the BNI to take the suspects to the registrar of the court to settle the bail conditions so that they would be released. But the BNI officers had other plans. They pushed the suspects into a waiting vehicle and took them back to BNI cells.
The court had its say. Lawyers for the suspects and the NPP made all the noise. But the BNI had its way. The head of the NPP flag bearer’s security whose charges were dropped by the BNI was again arrested and put in custody. The BNI knew what it was doing. Friday was a holiday. And Monday was also a holiday. So by denying the suspects their freedom, they would be punished for the next four days before any court could again come to their rescue.
Are the BNI officials above the law? No, they aren’t. They are just mere mortals who are showing others where the power lies. But it is not difficult to guess where they derive their authority. Our elders were right about the bird which dances in the middle of the road. Its drummers are in the nearby bush.
While the NPP were still battling to secure freedom for their people, news came over the weekend that the police in Ho had stopped some NPP supporters from embarking on a political health-walk. The police are reported to have acted on “orders from above.” And you and I know that those orders were definitely not given by the ageless Old Man above the azure skies.
The NPP should expect more. Beyond the police service, they should expect more humiliation from other state institutions. They should also expect more from the institutions such as the state media. Not long ago, the main opposition Leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made it to the front page of the Daily Graphic and hell came tumbling onto turbulent earth. For devotees of the ruling NDC, it was unheard of. And they are right. In Ghana, the government or ruling party owns the state media. Only hypocrites or those who are ignorant of the system will dispute this.
During the 2008 elections, I was an intern at the state-owned GTV. One day Richard Quashigah of the NDC came to GTV with a political ad in which two graduates accused the NPP of destroying the economy and making jobs scarce. That ad was rejected on the basis that the state broadcaster would not allow one party to attack another. Then a few weeks to the election, they played ads in which the NPP was calling the NDC murderers and thieves. With the help of unseen hands there were deliberate efforts to sabotage the NDC and its flag bearer. For instance, the state broadcaster carried the NPP’s last campaign live. On its prime time news that evening, it again gave more prominence to the NPP’s event than that of the NDC. The NDC’s presidential candidate, Professor John Evans Atta-Mills was not given a sound bite. It was that bad.
Two weeks after the NDC won the election, Richard Quashigah and Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa caused the truncation a live GTV Breakfast Show because they claimed the panel was not balanced. The suspected architects of the NPP’s agenda at the state broadcaster were appropriately dealt with in the months that followed. The Director General of GBC was removed. The acting director of GTV was removed. The Head of News at GTV was removed. A few others were sidelined. The NPP will start crying foul now that they are in the wilderness of political opposition.
For any objective political watcher, this is worrying. But I still insist the NPP does not deserve anybody’s sympathy. When they had the mandate of the people to govern this country, they did not correct the wrong. They perpetuated it. They manipulated the security and other state agencies to their advantage. Members of the pro-NDC Committee for Joint Action (CJA), who are on a break sipping sobolo, still remember what the police did to them as well as others who demonstrated against government’s policies such as the ROPAL.
Some “security experts and analysts” have flayed the NPP, saying why would the opposition party not trust the security agencies of the state but would rather go for outsiders? When I heard this I laughed at them. They are either sincerely ignorant or that they are deliberately being insincere.
How can the NPP trust the state security agencies? In the eight years that the NPP ruled Ghana, they also used the state security to do their dirty work. So they cannot trust them. Period.
On March 27, 2002, for instance, the King of Dagbon was murdered in broad daylight. Aside from the Asante Kingdom, I don’t know of any traditional kingdom that is bigger than the Dagomba Kingdom. More than 30 others were killed in broad daylight after a rival faction allegedly attacked the palace. The Gbewa Palace, where the gruesome murder took place is about 200 metres away from the Yendi Police Station. The fighting had started three days earlier, and the whole country knew of the violence that was building up there. Additional soldiers and police had been sent there to ensure security but when the gun battle raged for hours before the disastrous climax, we don’t know where the security were. Nobody was arrested. And nobody has been punished 14 years after the killings. Elsewhere police chiefs and even the head of state could lose their job over this.
It is no secret that the NPP backs the faction that allegedly committed the murders. And it is no secret that the NDC backs the faction whose king was murdered. The same thing is happening in Bawku.
Nobody can convince me that the National Security, the Police CID and the BNI could not have stopped the Yendi murders if the security agencies were neutral and professional. And nobody can convince me that these security agencies are so dumb that they could not have investigated and brought the perpetrators to book if they were willing to do a professional and independent job. It took close to 10 years for the NDC government to attempt to seek justice for the murdered king and their favoured faction. But they did not succeed for the obvious reasons. Evidence had been compromised and the security officials of the previous regime could not be trusted to assist in the process.
The NPP thinks its flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is being targeted
The NPP cannot trust the state security agencies. Apart from the military, which I am not very sure are being controlled like puppets, the other so-called state security agencies are working in the interest of the ruling party. The NDC used them. When the NPP gained power, they also used them. The NDC is again in power and is using them. I know for a fact that the National Security, under the Leadership of Col. Gbevlo-Lartey investigated the rot in GYEEDA but refused to release the report because some NDC known members were found culpable. I have evidence to that effect, and the former Youth and Sports Minister, Clement Kofi Humado, confirmed to me in a recorded interview that he followed up but the report was not given to him.
I am not doing any equalisation with this article. I am just trying to let you know that neither of the two political parties deserves our sympathy. And if we want to fight injustice and disregard for the rule of law on party lines, we will fail. The NDC and NPP are tarred with the same brush. They are different sides of the same calabash. So we don’t have to sympathise with the NPP. Let’s sympathise with our pathetic republic rather. Instead of taking sides, let’s begin to think about how to stop this slideshow of senseless abuse of incumbency by the two dominant political parties in the country.
Firstly, let’s see how to correct our constitution. District, Municipal, Metropolitan Chief Executives and Regional Ministers must not head security councils in their respective jurisdictions. Any idiot can be appointed as a District Chief Executive or Regional Minister, but it takes a lot of effort for someone to rise to become a District or Regional Police Commander. The police commanders have the expertise. They should head the security councils.
Secondly, let us agree as a people that the manipulation of the security services by politicians has harmed and will continue to hurt the development of the country. Where there is impunity or injustice because the arm of the law is twisted by political power, everyone is a potential victim. This realization should lead us to non-partisan stance against the abuses.
Thirdly, members of the security services who allow themselves to be used to abuse the rights of others should remember that they may not escape any injustice and abuses that the system nurtures. When Captain Kojo Koda was an officer of the Ghana Armed Forces, he was untouchable. Today, he is a mere mortal who is being humiliated. The BNI officials should take note. Everybody is a potential victim in a messed up system.
Finally, the government, which uses the power of the people to oppress and suppress others, should remember that there is a just God who does not fight on the side of the oppressor. Sometimes I am tempted to believe that Providence has a say in who rules His people. But I’m sure the arrogance of power will not allow them to heed any advice. Our elders say a disease that will kill a man first breaks sticks into his ears. Election 2016 may well be a shocking repeat of Election 2008 if the NDC waits until the second round of voting to correct their wrongs.
We face an imminent threat from terrorism, and our government and security services should learn the wisdom in these words from our sages of old: a wise man does not go hunting rats when his roof is on fire.
The Writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a senior journalist with Joy 99.7FM. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org