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The late Adolf Hitler of Germany who was noted for his dictatorship and ruthless acts once said that, over suppression leads to rebellion. In the Twi language of the Akan people of Ghana we have a saying that “wo pam ohufo a wo to ne barima”, which translates as: “If you push the coward too much, it results in his bravery”. This confirms what my late kinsman, Nana Ameyaw Kwadwo used to say, that: “A man in the water fears no cold”. Of course, if the man is in cold water, he would obviously fear no cold. This also should remind us of the fact that there comes a time in the life of a man that it becomes imperative to choose between two evils. If a boy on a mango tree clashes with a snake on the tree and attempts to descend for safety but spots a yawning lion under the tree, he must confront one of the dangers head-on keeping in mind that: ALL DIE BE DIE.

Within the past one year or so, a catch phrase has entered the political dictionary of the Republic of Ghana credited to Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo of the New Patriotic Party. The phrase: “ALL DIE BE DIE”, though not a new one, has attracted much attention and commentary from politicians, the clergy, civil society organizations, and individuals ever since it came out of the mouth of the NPP Flag-bearer. As it should be expected, the phrase has been applauded or condemned or even cursed depending on one's political sympathy. For many, however, the slogan should not direct our minds to war, but to a general mal-functioning in our security planning and administration.

Of course, Nana Akuffo Addo has explained that it is not a slogan to create division and to foment war in the country called Ghana. Again and again, Nana, a well-known and unequalled pro-democracy and human rights activist of our time, has reiterated his desire for a peaceful Ghana, especially in our electioneering process. This has not been a mere word of mouth but has been unquestionably made practical, when this man who led in the first round of an “African Election” with over 49% votes as against 47% by his closest rival, accepted defeat in a second round tainted with intimidation and violence. Elsewhere in Africa, the second round would not even be an option and Nana Akuffo Addo would be sitting on the presidential seat, especially when the election was supervised by a government formed by his party.

Nana is known to have advised his party men and women to follow the long and narrow path of using dialogue, perseverance, endurance, respect for human dignity and rule of law in seeking political power in keeping with the Busia-Danquah-Dombo tradition. He is said to prefer this approach to a rather short-cut, violent, destructive and egocentric wide path to power that tramples on the rights of the citizenry with grave impunity. Consistent with his believes Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo did not hide his abhorrence for the military dictatorship that bedeviled our country, to the extent that he employed his skills as a lawyer to defend people whose rights were abused, and led public demonstrations to seek the best for the country. We remember the “Kume preko” and the “Sie me preko” marches in Accra.

Why should a man with an enviable record for canvassing for Ghana's return to democracy in the period before 1992, and with a great reputation in the legal fraternity be accused of leading a crusade that would wreck the supposed peace that Ghana currently enjoys, with obvious reference to the ALL DIE BE DIE slogan?

Analysts, critics and promoters of the slogan need not be temperamental at all. We need to approach this with objectiveness and open-mindedness. It is also important not to confuse the letter and the spirit of the ALL DIE BE DIE phrase on the alter of oversimplification and shallow-mindedness. Let us not forget that when peaceful men speak, their opponents begin to prepare for war as happened to Jesus. This writer shares the opinion that the timing and the context of the ALL DIE BE DIE slogan from the renowned legal brain and NPP Flag bearer must be carefully analyzed in order to appreciate the import of the slogan, and the contribution it has made to peace in the country.

Within the period that the slogan surfaced, Ghana was experiencing extra-ordinary events with its security and justice systems. This was particularly during the period when bye-elections were held at Chereponi and Atiwa.

These included;

  • Perceived hijacking of the security apparatus by political forces loyal to the ruling government. There was therefore a mismatch between the extents to which the government employed security for its own sake as compared to how much it employed security to the benefit of the citizenry.
  • The perceived hijacking of the security apparatus of the country also led to the probable infiltration of the security by party foot-soldiers of the ruling government who paraded themselves as security men but brutalized NPP supporters.
  • The indifference of the Police to brutalization and intimidation of perceived NPP supporters.
  • The wanton arrest of perceived NPP supporters even when it was believed that they had suffered abuse by their opponents.
  • The open use of offensive weapons by unauthorized persons without a blink of the eye from the police.
  • The speed with which perceived NPP sympathizers were processed for court on flimsy charges.
  • The lack of interest of the police in arresting perceived NDC sympathizers even when evidence had been provided
  • And many more.

It is believed that while all of these were going on, the best the President of the Republic could do was to globe trot and assure the International Community that his government was committed to peace. Practical steps to call the rampaging youth to order were missing. Observers were worried, especially being aware of the fact that insensitivity, bias, inaction and over-reaction on the part governments have been the cause of failed states in some parts of Africa.

Meanwhile, there are many who hold the view that Nana Addo as a leader of his party is by our Constitution given a recognized space in our political arena. This space, Nana needed to protect to ensure that Ghanaians are offered policy alternatives and ultimately an alternative government. Secondly, Nana needed to protect the people who had volunteered themselves to support him in his political agenda Thirdly, Nana needed to protect the innocent Ghanaians who were being distressed through unnecessary “fear and panic” orchestrated by rampaging foot soldiers. Again, Nana needed to protect the rule of law by ensuring that state institutions assumed their role in a fearless, unbiased manner. Finally Nana had the responsibility as the opposition leader to draw the attention of the government to the fact that it was both the cause and solution to the mayhem that was taking the better part of our country. I share in the view of those who think that if Nana loved war, he would go to war straight away and not be singing slogans.

Observers think instead of doing a deep and matured analysis of the far reaching slogan, a section of society has found it convenient to politicize it with a propaganda twist, without necessarily looking at the history of the man to whom the slogan is credited. To many, Nana is a philanthropist, the people's man, a man of peace and a lover of justice who cannot be easily tainted by twisting a harmless slogan to look bleak. As opposition leader, Nana has a duty to play the necessary social keys to bring harmony into our democratic music. Some of the keys may be smooth, others, rough. Some may be sweet, others sour. Yet, some may be mild and others harsh. In all these however, Nana is only being a watch-man over the tower of Ghana and not a wretch-man

The following admonishment may therefore be instructive.

  • The IGP must be professional, resolute, and put Ghana first in giving direction to the police. He must remember that by the height he has attained, his name is already going down into contemporary history books. What would be written about him depend on him.
  • Policemen on field duty must desist from taking instructions from politicians instead of their commanders and arrest lawless people without discrimination. To wait for order from above to arrest or not to arrest while an on-going act is undoubtedly criminal and putting the lives of others in danger is unprofessional and coward conduct.
  • All District Security Committees, Municipal Security Committees, Metropolitan Security Committees, and Regional Security Committees should be chaired by independent non-politically aligned persons, preferably, retired high-ranking security persons or the incumbent respective Police Commanders, in the round up to the 2012 elections. District/Municipal/Metropolitan Chief Executives and Regional Ministers who are vying for parliamentary seats cannot be unbiased chairs of their respective security committees.
  • Biased used of security would result in rebellion on the part of those who feel disadvantaged.

Government has the responsibility to ensure a level playing field for all political hopefuls. Let us be guided by the ALL DIE BE DIE slogan to respect the rule of law and provide equal security cover for all Ghanaians. Again the enthusiasm to maintain power should not give government the license to turn the security forces against the citizens. The end result would be revolt.

Finally, followers of Nana Akuffo Addo should know the man they follow as a peaceful, patriotic and lawful person. He should be honored with similar virtues and not violence in the name of ALL DIE BE DIE.

*The Writer is a Health/Public Administrator and a Youth Development Advisor

Disclaimer: "The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article." © Fred Effah-Yeboah.

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