The dangers of vigilante groups and their long term repercussions are not hidden truth from the people of Ghana. In 2017 when political parties in this country started recruiting the youth for this dirty job, Professor Isaac Olawale Albert, of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria cautioned Ghana of the likely outcome of the wrongs we were entertaining as a nation. Like the know it all pupil in the class, we ignored his warnings. In his words of caution to Ghana, he
advised African countries to say a big no to political vigilante groups because these can turn into terrorists and disturb the peace and security of Ghana. He also made references to Boko Haram saying their activities begun the same way in 2002 just like our Vigilante groups started.
What do politicians want to turn Ghana into? This country has had her fair share of vigilante activities and their outcomes are not palatable. These are made up of empowered group of young, able-bodied men who go about causing fear and panic among peace-loving Ghanaians, who at most times will be exercising their constitutional rights in an election or be involved in other political activities.
A vigilante group is a group of persons who are self-appointed citizens undertaking law enforcement activities in their community without legal authority backing their operations. These group of people, in the case of our country, were gathered by “politicians”, who also fund their operations, that is, supply ammunition, uniforms where necessary and vehicles.
Professor Isaac Olawale Albert at the 5th Kofi Annan-Dag Hammarskjold Annual Lecture in 2017 was like a prophet and a grandmother who had acquired enough experience to tell the outcome of the path Ghana had taken. Two years later, here we are in a country filled innocent blood being spilled for others to win political power.
Basic Requirements to become a politician in Ghana today
To be a politician in this country requires no formal education, even though there is a course at the tertiary institutions as “political science”, most of our politicians never sat in those classes and those who did are now in other corporate institutions. Some of our politicians do not have the basic leadership skills and in the 21st century where the world is fast-paced, our politics is old fashioned hanging on a fragile democracy that is currently swimming in all kinds of violent attacks and vigilante group activities.
Research on leadership has evolved with evidence to show that, leadership can be learned, so as to better serve the people but many of our leaders have not acquired these leadership skills and knowledge to lead this nation in their various capacities. Instead of our leaders serving, they have become opportunistic and selfish.
To be a politician, one has to understudy an already established politician for some time and if you learn to be eloquent, and also learn the “manipulative speech delivery techniques”, save up enough money to produce your own posters and also have enough to tip electorates then you can be called a politician. Many people go into politics to steal from the state( corruption) for their personal gain and are self-centered.
Sadly, some of these politicians, though educated, do not know the words of the national pledge or the national anthem which reminds us constantly of the loyalty we owe to our country as a people, so how do we expect them to do the right thing when they are placed in leadership positions.
Oh and don’t even get me started on the constitution, the set of rules on which this lovely nation is governed, has been neglected by these politicians, so I ask, on what are they ruling as? Are we safe as citizens? Due to their ignorance or intentionally ignoring these basics, they act contrary to the exact rules that guide their rule.
The duty of vigilante groups
Every organized body has duties to carry out. Originally vigilantes were started to assist the security services to execute justice in favour of the weak and voiceless in the communities but as time went by, their operations were corrupted as selfish men took charge of their operations and some greedy politicians and political parties started leading the groups, so instead of being for the people they are now terrorizing the weak, voiceless and the helpless.
Based on all their actions one could say that their mission statement is “to cause fear and panic” and their vision statement will be “to make the people fear our sponsors while they subvert the will of the people”. In the discharge of their duties, they are nothing less than “TERRORISTS”.
The 1992 Constitution on politics and governance
The 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana never mentioned vigilantes but this is what it said about internal organizations,
article 55(5) states that internal organization of a political party shall conform to democratic principles and its actions and purposes must not contravene or be inconsistent with the constitution or any other law”.
The formation of vigilante groups are the actions of political leaders who are the representation of the entire political party. The actions of these vigilantes contravene with the constitution. article 3(2) also states that “any activity of a person or group of persons which suppresses or seeks to suppress the lawful political activity of any person or any class of persons, or persons generally is unlawful.” Based on the constitution of Ghana one can say that vigilantism is unlawful and the politicians are all aware of this basic truth.
In every organization the staff work for the head of that organization even as they pursue their passion, it is the same with vigilantes, I don’t know about the passion but am sure they equally work for the sponsor and pursue something in their favour but one thing I know for sure in their case all they have to do is to do the master’s will, irrespective of how dangerous it may be or who might get hurt, they just do it.
Ghana has reached a point in her history where she must show high levels of maturity in everything she does. The international community is watching us closely and the path we have taken as a nation is dangerous to our development agenda, investments, human capital, our children and women. These events only tell the ordinary citizen one simple truth, The Politician does not really think about you when he provides you with social goods and services but rather how to manipulate you and continue to rule you. No matter your political affiliations and whether you do politics or not, you must add your voice to the call on politicians to keep Ghana in one piece and not pieces before, during and after the 2020 polls.