MAINTAINING PEACE AND SECURITY: A SPEECH DELIVERED BY THE NPP 2012 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, NANA AKUFO-ADDO, ON NOVEMBER 15, 2012 AT KOFORIDUA
As we head into the elections on December 7, the most persistent refrain that can be heard in our country is the call for peace. Every identifiable group, religious leaders, traditional leaders and individuals have been praying for peace and, indeed, we even have children serving as peace ambassadors.
I think it is fair to say that the Ghanaian people are united in our determination that our nation remains peaceful and the elections pass off creditably. The most important thing for a nation is the peace and safety of its people and territorial integrity of the state. It is when this is guaranteed that the citizens can go about their lives and hope to improve upon the quality of their circumstances.
I have in the course of this election campaign addressed various policy positions on various aspects of our lives; I have spoken about education, health, agriculture, industrialization, corruption, and yesterday I spoke about arts and culture. The most sacred duty of any government is the assurance of the safety and security of the people and today, I want to address the subject of maintaining peace and security and the services that are in the frontline of providing this duty.
Ladies and gentlemen, the traditional challenges to security such as chieftaincy conflicts, land disputes, religious intolerance, tribal conflicts and political rivalry are being compounded by contemporary threats like drug and human trafficking, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, armed and highway robberies, cyber-crime and activities of nomadic herdsmen. Today, the challenges to Ghana’s National Security are certainly numerous, more complex and sometimes quite unpredictable. All of us owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who work to keep us and our nation safe.
In a democracy, the organizations that are generally referred to as constituting the security services, the police, the army and the intelligence services are expected to be politically neutral in performing their duties. The law states so and normal practice gives them this neutral outlook. It is in everybody’s interest that the security services retain the neutrality and professionalism guaranteed under the Constitution. Governments have term limits and in a multi-party democracy, parties win and lose power. It is good for the health of the nation that this is so and this is why the security services should not be made to tie their well-being or otherwise to the fortunes of the ruling party of the day.
During periods of military rule, the separation of roles between the security services and the government of the day invariably gets blurred. I suspect the malicious propaganda against the NPP being anti-military probably stems from the period of fighting against military rule. Ladies and gentlemen, it is important to make the point forcefully at the onset that fighting for democratic rule and campaigning against military rule cannot be equated to being anti-military. I was in the forefront of that struggle and i am certainly not anti-military, despite all the efforts to portray me as such. I have no plans to turn our soldiers into farmers, not do I intend to touch the Single-Spine arrangements that were initiated by the NPP government of President J. A. Kufour to fund the free Senior High School programme. I have indicated clearly where the funds for that will come from – largely our oil revenues.
Today, the security services accept their professional role as defenders of the state under civilian government control. That is one of the tenets of a democracy.
In 2001, when the NPP came to office, we saw it as our duty to ensure that the security services are provided with the necessary environment to enable them discharge their constitutional duties. This involves the physical conditions like accommodation for service personnel, the provision of proper equipment, the training and the preparedness of personnel to carry out their operations.
One area of concern is the payment of rent by Service personnel. Although all soldiers occupying military quarters are charged a monthly rent of 5% on their consolidated pay, the monies accruing from this deduction are never used to maintain or improve the state of accommodation. The next NPP government will ensure that such monies are used for the purpose for which they are intended.
I dare say that under the Kufuor government, the Ghana Armed Forces saw a much greater improvement than there had been previously. A new pension scheme for the Ghana Armed Forces was approved and money was secured for the payment of retirement benefits of soldiers whose retirement was overdue because of lack of funds.
The NPP’s infrastructural development for the Armed Forces under President Kufuor must also be applauded. A modern Ministry of Defence Headquarters was built, Burma Hall was upgraded into a state-of-the-art auditorium and numerous buildings like Beijing Barracks in Burma Camp were put up all around the country to accommodate servicemen. The 37 Military Hospital was upgraded and refurbished.
Mr Chairman, the Police Service also experienced significant improvement in the supply of logistics, equipment, and support from the NPP government. Funding activities of the Ghana Police Service increased substantially under the NPP Administration. This was made possible by NPP innovative programs that attracted additional bilateral support from countries that had traditionally not supported activities of our Police Service. Countries as diverse as France, Spain, India, Nigeria, South Africa for the first time ever provided significant logistical, financial and technical support to the Ghana Police Services.
Under the Mills/ Mahama administration, however, the significant gains our country made in de-politicising our state security agencies have been lost and replaced with an aggressive politicisation agenda. Indeed, as soon as the NDC assumed office in January 2009, the training of two batches of armed forces recruits selected during the latter part of the NPP administration was cancelled and the nation was told loudly that these young people who had been recruited under a meticulously devised regimen were NPP “foot soldiers”. In the process, about 900 young men and women who could have excelled in carrying out their military duties were denied the opportunity to serve in their country’s armed forces.
Ladies and gentlemen, under the NDC regime, recruitment, promotions and appointments within the security services have been subjected to a political acid test of loyalty to the NDC rather than emphasis on competence, seniority and loyalty to the state. This is a dangerous development that does not promote national cohesion and the building of true and professional national security agencies.
For instance, during this period of electioneering where it is extremely important that our security services maintain a neutral posture, stories are emerging that are alarming. For example, what is one to make of the reports that have the National Security Advisor, Brigadier Nunoo-Mensah, one of Ghana’s most experienced soldiers, going around security establishments soliciting votes for the ruling party? If true, this is as disgraceful as it is disappointing.
And that is not all. A Cabinet minister of the Republic, Hon. Collins Dauda, has employed the use of thugs under the command of his blood brother, Abdullai Naba, to harass, intimidate and physically interfere with the campaign of the NPP in the Asutifi South constituency. The former NPP MP and former Ambassador to Cuba, Mrs Cecilia Amoah and the Constituency Chairman and Organiser of the NPP were set upon and eight brand new bicycles in their vehicle were destroyed beyond repair. In spite of written statements and reports to the Goaso police and the provision of evidence, no arrests have been made till date.
Mr Chairman, compounding the state of national anxiety and apprehensions about the impending election is the now infamous Yaw Boateng Gyan, tape that discussed in graphic details the alleged plans and actions of the NDC to unleash violence and intimidation on the Ghanaian public during the forthcoming elections and have it blamed on the NPP. Meanwhile, Yaw Boateng Gyan, the NDC National Organiser, has admitted the tape is genuine.
It is extremely alarming that the National Security Coordinator, who himself has been implicated on the tape, has concluded that the investigation showed no wrongdoing on the part of Yaw Boateng Gyan. And this against the background of allegations that NDC activists are being trained and equipped and fitted with military or police uniforms to disrupt the upcoming election.
The country will have been reassured if the investigation had been conducted by an agency independent from him. One should never be a judge in one’s own court – that is a fundamental rule of natural justice. The President must assure the country of his commitment to peaceful elections beyond mere rhetoric to confidence building measures. One such measure will be the prompt arrest and prosecution for those responsible for the recent mayhem in Asutifi South Constituency.
One would have thought that on the eve of the 5th round of democratic elections in this 4th Republic, we would have moved from such primitive, violence-based, thuggery-reliant political campaigns. Unfortunately, and sadly, one cannot really claim to be surprised by such events. The three by-elections that have been conducted under this NDC government have been characterized by similar brutality. Akwatia, Chereponi, Atiwa have entered our political folklore for all the wrong reasons. The worrying part being the seeming helplessness or refusal by the security services to perform their duties when confronted by violence on the part of members of the ruling party. During the voter registration exercise, Odododiodo became a byword for impunity and the flagrant display of violence on the streets of the capital.
Such behavior is only possible when there is political interference in the performance of the duties of the security services and the personnel feel intimidated by the political authorities. Ladies and gentlemen, this cannot be good for the health of our democracy.
This nation has won an enviable and deserved reputation for good democratic credentials and we have peacefully conducted parliamentary elections five times and presidential elections seven times. Indeed, the European Union has announced they will not be sending observers to monitor our elections this year because our democracy has come of age. I suggest that the rising crescendo of people calling and praying for peace must mean that people have a sense of foreboding because of the blatant attempt to politicize and coerce our security services.
I wish to state again that the NPP pledges to work fully with all the security agencies in order to accomplish peaceful, violence-free elections. We call on all political parties, especially the ruling NDC, to make an equal pledge, and go beyond political rhetoric to put in place concrete measures, programs and actions to ensure peaceful, free, transparent, and a violence-free election in December.
Putting in place credible and tangible programs to ensure peaceful and fair elections has become even more necessary, because the Mills/ Mahama government has no credibility in organizing peaceful elections in Ghana. Indeed, while this government has no track record in organizing and supervising a national election, their record in organizing by-elections, as I have pointed out already, is far from reassuring. Akwatia and Chereponi remain a blight on our political horizon. Indeed the president himself, in the recent interview with Africa Watch magazine, admitted that those elections “fell through the cracks”. What the Ghanaian people are counting on is that he will ensure that those cracks do not reappear on 7th December.
Up until this year, voter registration had never generated any tension and suddenly this year we saw disgraceful events on our streets during the exercise with Odododiodo being the most notorious but by no means the only one. This registration violence was replicated in the Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Volta, Eastern and Northern regions.
Most of these attacks against NPP supporters were duly reported to the police, but not a single case was vigorously investigated, and prosecuted.
Ironically, Ladies and Gentlemen, the opposite was the case with respect to allegations filed by NDC supporters against NPP supporters in places like Asutifi South, Asunafo South and Tain. As soon as NDC members filed a complaint, even NPP Parliamentary Candidates were immediately arrested.
Mr. Chairman, it seems to me the valuable gains made under the Kufour government to create a security service/civilian peaceful co-existence are being undermined by this NDC government.
If, by the Grace of God, I am elected President on December 7th, my preoccupation would be the development of well-trained, well-resourced, professional security agencies that carry out their constitutionally mandated responsibilities competently and efficiently. An Akufo-Addo government will strive to assist the Armed Forces and all the other security services to perform independently their constitutionally mandated roles professionally in order to sustain the peace and security of the country.
Mr Chairman, the NPP vision for the Ghana Armed Forces is summarised by this quote attributed to Field Marshall Montgomery, one of the most inspirational commanders of World War 2. He said and it is worth quoting him: “The soldier who is well provided for, who is not disturbed by petty and unnecessary inconveniences, who knows that everything possible is being done for him, who is well-clothed and well-fed, is a contented soldier.” Achieving such a state for the officers and men of Ghana Armed Forces will, Insha Allah, be the focus of an Akufo-Addo government.
In terms of military preparedness, we will actively support contemporary training methods that not only keep our soldiers abreast with international military trends, but also ensure that they remain the beacon of Armed Forces across the Continent. We will also provide them with modern military equipment which will complement the training they will receive.
To accomplish this, the next NPP government will consult with the leadership of the Ghana Armed Forces to draw up short, medium and long term development plans in order to innovate policies that will be of maximum benefit to the officers and men.
Mr Chairman, the next NPP government would be committed to enriching the human resource base of the Ghana Armed Forces. We will support initiatives to provide further education for soldiers, sailors and airmen to further enhance their skills at protecting our territorial integrity.
With regard to our sailors, the advent of oil has made their role more critical as they now have the added responsibility to protect our waters and oil fields from new dangers. Ladies and gentlemen, I am particularly determined to allocate the needed resources to protect our sea lines of communication, especially in the wake of current activities in the Gulf of Guinea including piracy, disruptions and destruction oil/gas operations and installations, bunkering, drug trafficking and smuggling, among others. Our airmen will not be left out of this programme of resource enhancement, so that we have an air force worthy of the name.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the next NPP government will build on the Kufuor government’s success in boosting the morale of the Armed Forces. More residential accommodation facilities would be put up in all the units to reduce the acute accommodation problem facing our soldiers. Buildings started by the Kufuor Government, which are nearing completion but have been abandoned by the NDC government, would be completed as a matter of urgency.
In the meantime, many soldiers live in rented accommodation, but are, however, made to contribute 5% of their salaries to a fund for the maintenance of barracks. The next NPP government will ensure that these monies are used for the specified purpose such that the soldiers are not left out of pocket.
A contented soldier is one whose remuneration does not unduly distract him from his mandate. An Akufo-Addo government will take the welfare of our soldiers very seriously.
Mr Chairman, the 37 Military Hospital is the National Emergency and Disaster Hospital for the country. Under the last NPP government, it was expanded, refurbished and re-equipped. As a result, it was designated a Level IV referral hospital of the United Nations. Government subventions to 37 Military Hospital would be increased to enable the Hospital meet its function as a national emergency hospital. My government will ensure that it retains that status and continues to provide first class healthcare for Members of the Armed Forces and their families. With the Military Hospital’s new status as a referral hospital, we need to upgrade and rehabilitate urgently all Garrison Medical Reception Centres to serve as Primary Health Care Centres for improved medical care delivery for our soldiers.
Mr. Chairman, Article 200 (3) of the 1992 Constitution states that “the Police service shall be equipped and maintained to perform its traditional role of maintaining law and order”. The ultimate goal of this provision is to ensure explicitly that the ordinary Ghanaian feels safe and can go about his everyday business free from the fear of crime. The police have the primary duty of ensuring law and order in our nation.
An Akufo-Addo government will ensure that our policemen and women are left to focus on this mandate by providing better training, increased resources and enhanced conditions. I envisage a Police Service that goes about its duty of protecting ordinary citizens confident that there will be no interference from the powers that be. Under an Akufo-Addo government, no Collins Dauda-backed policing will be allowed to prevail.
It is often said that the public is the police and the police is the public. Currently, the Police Service, unfortunately, suffers a low public image. We seem to be back to the old days when a call to the police station is answered with “sorry, we have no car”, many calls are now answered with: “sorry we have no fuel”! Under an Akufo-Addo Presidency, we will work tirelessly with the Police leadership to go back to the Kufuor days of policing where people felt that all the efforts of the police were geared towards making their lives more comfortable.
Nowadays, the challenges our policemen face at work are more sophisticated in nature. Innovative drug trafficking, cybercrime, intelligent fraud and money laundering are some of the crimes that they have to fight. An Akufo-Addo government will ensure the Criminal Investigations Department benefits from using modern tools of policing like social media skills training, forensic accounting training, as well as that will facilitate their work. Most importantly we will ensure that the Detective Training School is rehabilitated and well equipped to provide modern detective training to our men and women of the service. A better equipped CID will ensure investigations into crimes are solved and would go a long way to building confidence and trust in the Service. In this respect, ordinary communication equipment like telephones, walkie-talkies, radio equipment will be provided to boost the efforts of our police.
It is evident that Ghana needs to boost the numbers of the Police Service. as we have a need for more police officers than we currently have manning our streets. According to the United Nations, the Police Public Ratio (PPR) for any country should be 1:500. Currently Ghana’s ratio stands at 1:1200. An Akufo-Addo government will be committed to increasing police numbers to provide a safer Ghana for us all.
I must say a few words on the other services that even though not directly in the frontline of the maintenance of public order, constitute a critical part of the security of the nation and during election times are called upon to perform such duties. I refer to the Prison Service, the Immigration Service and the Fire Service. The Prison Service in particular tends always to feel like the unloved and ignored child of the security services. This is a pity as the men and women perform a critical duty to keep our nation safe. I acknowledge that the problems that face the prisons deserve urgent attention. The last NPP government demonstrated its commitment to tackle the problems by building the first correctional center that had been built in Ghana for the past 50 years, the modern prison complex in Ankaful. It is time another such prison was built in the northern sector of the country to ease the intense congestion. We are committed to provide the tools to make the difficult work easier to perform.
At this point, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to salute our Immigration Services for their continuous efforts in keeping our borders safe and ensuring the safe movement of people through our borders. The Ghana Immigration Service will have a critical role to play in the next NPP government’s bid to embark on the economic transformation of Ghana. We will focus, therefore, on equipping the Service with improved, modern state-of the art technology that enhances and facilitates the execution of their given mandate.
The Fire Service has been in news for the valiant efforts they made recently in saving property and life during the various market fires and the Melcom disaster. To the men and women of the Fire Service, I wish to congratulate you warmly on your efforts. The Melcom disaster has underlined the need for greater resourcing of the Service such that we do not have to rely on external assistance in carrying out such functions.
It is heartbreaking to see people’s lifetime earnings go up in smoke due to negligence on someone else’s part. An Akufo-Addo government will support the Fire Service in its preventive functions to educate our market woman in particular and the general public in general on how to avoid behaviours that lead to such conflagration. We will also provide advanced fire-fighting equipment that puts them at readiness to perform their core functions.
Our country has an enviable record of the smooth transfer of power after elections. In 2001, the government of President J.J. Rawlings handed over peacefully to the NPP Government of President J.A. Kufuor. In 2009, President J.A. Kufuor, after the defeat of the NPP by the slimmest of margins in Ghana’s or, indeed, Africa’s electoral history, handed over peacefully to the government of President J.E.A. Mills. The Ghanaian people expect nothing less than that from our caretaker President, if a similar situation was to arise. We do not want to see a Laurent Gbagbo here in Ghana.
For myself, I am and remain an agent of peace as I demonstrated in 2008. Indeed, the ambitious programme of social and economic transformation that the NPP and I have outlined in this campaign for the progress and prosperity of our nation cannot be achieved unless we have conditions of peace across the length and breadth of our country.
Ladies and gentlemen, we all sleep, feeling safe because the men and women of the services work to keep our nation and our streets safe. We pay tribute to the men and women of the services. They deserve our respect and support and I look forward to working with them when, with God’s help and your votes on December 7, an NPP government under my leadership is elected to run the affairs of this nation.