01.04.2020 Opinion

Everything Is Wrong With Ghana: Bad ‘Security Officials’, Bad ‘Citizens’

By Aziz Unusah
Everything Is Wrong With Ghana: Bad ‘Security Officials’, Bad ‘Citizens’
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Growing up in Ghana, careful observation of the security service, especially the military and the police tend to be an archetype of what Pierre Bourdieu called ‘symbolic violence’, a phenomenon that epitomizes that the mere threat of violence is enough to control and dominate a population. However, the actions of the military and policemen continue to be appalling and in no uncertain terms should be condemned by all well-meaning Ghanaians. Several people have lost their lives, others have become incapacitated all under the scourges of people sworn to ensure that we the citizens are safe from all forms of harm.

Certain measures of the security service’s current approach towards enforcing the lockdown of parts of the country as directed by the president are needless, unprofessional, and to a larger extent inhumane and barbaric. It is true that the security has their orders and duties to carry out, however, it is also morally and ethically right to discharge such orders and duties devoid of any actions that tend to nullify or contradict the very existence of their institutions. Indeed, we are in trying times and the good people of Ghana do not deserve brutality and callousness from the security service personnel.

It is true that we are in trying times, and the security service also has a sworn duty enshrined in our constitution to ensure our safety. Citizens should, however, understand that the constitutional powers given to the security is a contract we have directly or indirectly signed, as a body mandated to ensure law and order. Apparently, citizens across all corners of the country at times act with impunity often under the guise of our ‘failed’ systems. I cannot pretend to be ignorant with the genuine and deprived masses that have suffered and continue to suffer under the ‘failed’ system, however, some adamant, unscrupulous, and wicked people are in one way or the other trying to take advantage of the system with such impunity and lawlessness, and that cannot go unpunished. Suffice to say that, we are part of the problem – making it difficult for the security service to easily carry out their duties.

Undoubtedly, the Ghanaian society, a potent representation of several complexities, one cannot conclusively and singly claim to know the solutions to the quagmire we find ourselves in. However, to add my widow’s mite, I propose the following:

  1. Accountability of security officials: we live in a country where people are rarely held accountable for their actions, and the security service is no exception to this practice. One common phrase the public tends to hear from the authorities in the course of unprofessional and barbaric actions of security men and women is that the service will undertake an 'internal investigation’ and it often ends there. It is high time the punishment of this 'square pegs in round holes' security officials are made public on two accounts: to serve as a deterrence to other officials in other parts of the country and to also reassure the public that they can report unscrupulous and unprofessional security officials and the appropriate justice would be served.
  2. Sense of duty by the citizen(s): we the citizens also need to understand that security is a two-way stream, thus, as we wish to see our security officials carry out their duties diligently and professional, we also have a duty to be 'good' citizens: by behaving diligently, ethically, abiding all dictated rules and regulations and at the same time fighting for our very own security by exposing the few unscrupulous and ‘bad nuts’ among us that tends to make us suffer for their ‘stupidity’.
  3. Central Government: elsewhere (i.e. developed countries like U.S.A, UK, Germany, Sweden, etc) the central government makes huge sums of money from people 'stupidity' just like the behaviour of some security officials and the citizens. But in Ghana, respective governments, both past and present appear to be tight-lipped and, in some cases, tend to glorify some of these actions. The central government tends to be the mediator between the security apparatus and citizens, and it is high time they roll out interventions and policies aimed at addressing this canker, at the same making money out of people’s actions rather than their lopsided continuous approach in taxing the deprived masses.


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