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23.07.2015 Speech

Valedictory Speech for graduation 2015, Kofi Annan Int.Peacekeeping Training Centre

By HON. URSULA OWUSU-EKUFUL
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Good morning, Members of the Governing Board, Your Excellency, the Vice President, Distinguished Guests, Members of the Academic Board, Faculty and Staff, and Fellow Graduates. Let me first say thank you for we owe our successful completion of the course to so many people, first of all to our family members who put up with our long absences, late nights and crankiness. To our long suffering spouses, partners, parents, siblings and children, we appreciate the sacrifices you endured to ensure that we could be here graduating today. Many of us combined our academic work with a busy workload and we owe a debt of gratitude to our colleagues at work, some of whom took up the slack to enable us get some needed breathing space to focus on our studies. We are grateful. To our lecturers for imparting knowledge and putting up with us, the staff for helping us with our interminable enquiries and requests, the librarians we harassed, many thanks. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Class of 2014, we made it. It has been a long and arduous journey full of some of the best moments of our lives. From the matriculation day a year ago, when we walked into this compound and met the truly amazing individuals assembled for our course, when H.E. Baba Kamara first saw me and exclaimed, ‘visionless, clueless, directionless...’ and I wondered who he was but stole a glance at his name tag and said quietly to myself ‘ hmm so this is the Baba Kamara!’, (he has remained my tormentor in chief and great friend!) The sheer calibre of personalities and shared life experiences in our class made us realise we were in for a treat and we were not disappointed for it has been a truly memorable year. From our very first assignment ‘Who am I’ which made us focus on the key people, events and circumstances which have shaped our life experiences and made us who we are today, through to the last ones on Gender which forced us to confront long held prejudices and generated some of the most heated debates in class, this has been a really eventful year. I truly feel privileged to be standing in front of you today.

We live in a world riddled with speculation, skepticism, and governed by appearances. Our politics is filled with pessimism, dishonesty and attempts to deeply divide all of us. Our markets are reflective of a people whose interests lie solely in what they can acquire regardless of the means used but within these walls we learnt that though there are security risks everywhere, we can make a difference. We will dare to be different for our lives have been changed by the lessons learnt here. We have been exposed to the stark reality of the immediacy of threats to our peace and security and for my part, I have pledged to be an agent of peace and security and not to provoke or flirt with violence and instability. We ought to make the deliberate choice to ignore provocation and act purposely to promote stability. Al Qaeda In the Maghreb, Boko Haram and ISIS are stark reminders of the fact that the foot soldiers we resource and encourage to attack our opponents today, may well become the internal terrorist of tomorrow. Actions often have unintended long term consequences and the violence in Talensi must never happen again. We are also faced with escalating challenges of cyber attack and the hacking into the government website was a small reminder of it. Next time an employee uses their flash drive to download confidential company data, think about where that could possibly end up. Even in the presidency and MDA’s, officers use their yahoo and gmail address to send and receive official communications and use personal laptops for official work. How safe is that? We are wilfully blind to it. The June 3rd floods also caught us flat footed. This year has been a wakeup call for these are all timely examples of our lax approach to security issues. It has not been just another year but a truly remarkable one and we must thank KAIPTC for the softer gentler Ursula who refuses to rise to the bait these days despite extreme provocation to revert to type. Those of us who have a voice and influence, have a duty to be agents of stability, voices of reason and heralds of peace. We have to pull our nation back from the brink and build bridges across all divides, even to our natural opponents. We can’t continue like this.

This course or variants of it ought to be required instruction for all policy makers in government and opposition, for they are the government in waiting. The National Security Adviser, Ministers for Defence, Interior, Local Government and Foreign Affairs at the very least, should necessarily spend not less than 4 weeks here before taking up post or be fired. All cabinet ministers and MP’s ideally should be introduced to Emerging Security Challenges, Gender and International Relations, Theories and Analysis of CPS and cyber security at least and I am sure the centre can oblige. They will govern us better. My favourite quote from Haille Sellassie which ends all emails I send out is instructive. “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better and the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” We will dare to be different, God willing.

Now to the memories we shared! We have had some serious fun this year and are sad it has ended so soon. Our fines for lateness, the crooked bottle of wine, two field trips to the Western Naval Command and a short, too short spin at sea, courtesy of our own Commodore Zowornu, and the banquet that followed; coupled with our trip to Nkonya - Alavanyo to observe the conflict, coordinated by our China Man, Clemence and Hon. Helen and the wonderful weekend there, Zomi from our own Togbe and the lessons in borborbor which had Chimere and Ernest dancing their hearts out! We all became honorary gunners under the influence of our indefatigable Course Instructor, Col. Dr. Kotia, himself a gunner too and fired off artillery shells at the Regiment in Ho, though some 2 women conveniently fled. Amidst the fun however, we learnt about maritime security and the dangers of intractable conflict. It has been a truly memorable year and we have met some incredible people. For us thankfully, it will continue even after today, for we will build our very own security enclave in Oyibi, thanks to Clemence who has given us all a plot of land each, and will grow old together! I don’t think the centre can assemble another group like the Class of 2014. From South Sudan, Mali, Liberia, Togo, Nigeria even Brazil (briefly) and Ghana, we came here and we all passed! Hurray! MCPS4, MGPS and EMCPS1, you rock!!!!

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