In the wake of President Akufo-Addo’s move to ban political party vigilantism by legislation, a respected founding member of the ruling New Patriotic Party is warning that the fixation on vigilantism as the problem of Ghana’s democracy is unrealistic.
Mr Abraham Ossei-Aidooh, a legal luminary, who is also a former Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, has observed that internal party corruption was a worse poison to Ghana’s governance than party vigilantism.
“This coupled with impunity, are the main dangers to our democracy.
The respected politician, who has his name in NPP lore as the man who carried the NPP on his head like a ‘kayayo’ (head porter) to Tema, gave these views in a commentary on the recent phenomenon of party vigilantism which escalated out of hand during the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.
“Following the issues, you will realise that both two main parties in Ghana, the NDC and my own NPP have denied owning vigilante groups; but we know they exist in these parties. The question then is who owns them?
“These groups are in the parties, but are not owned by the parties because of impunity. It shows how we just vandalise the law in this country.”
According to him, the vigilante groups are the products of Individuals with questionable motives; “they have put these dangerous militia groups together and have been passing them off as extensions of the parties.”
He said, the existence of the groups in parties at all, “signify the extent to which we have veered off from the core principles of democracy: these vigilantes exist and work at the pleasure of their paymasters for money and not out of conviction in the political philosophies of the parties.”
The former Majority leader reiterated that vigilantism was an offshoot of impunity, “and impunity comes in many forms, including; in the form of actions by educated people in suit.” He cited an assault that a Presidential Staffer in the Mahama Government, Stan Dogbe, had visited on a journalist at the 37-military hospital.
Mr. Dogbe smashed the recorder of a GBC reporter and went on to justify his action.
Another notorious act of impunity, he said, was in the form of actor, John Dumelo, arrogating a state vehicle to himself without regard for anybody when Mahama was President.
“The discussion about the dangers to our democracy should not be fixated on political vigilantism which is just the offshoot of the root cause of the problem, which is internal party corruption and impunity.”
At least 8 people were shot by operatives of National Security suspected to be goons of the ruling party’s vigilante group, Invincible Forces, during the election.
The development attracted negative flak for Ghana and the government had since led to President Akufo-Addo setting up a Commission of Inquiry to look into it.
As the Commission sat, President Akufo-Addo made moves to get the opposition NDC to the table to find a solution to the problem, but the NDC did not seem keen, causing the President to instruct the Attorney General to come up with a law against political party vigilantism.
Though many are applauding the move, Mr Abraham Ossei Aidooh fears that attention was being paid to the symptoms of the problem militating against Ghana’s democracy, while the main causal factor was ignored.
“It is not only vigilantism that is a result of internal party corruption and impunity– moneycracy, violence, mistrust and lack of development, all these originate from internal party corruption.
“The earlier we did something about this singular root cause, the better for us as a country.”