Stop targeting Fulanis as people of security interest – Prof Aning
A security expert has condemned the constant targeting of Fulanis (nomadic herdsmen) as people of security interest, and those who commit various crimes.
“It is unfortunate, dangerous, disgraceful and as a nation, it puts us in bad light within the international community.”
Professor Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, who condemned the act, said “the Fulanis are not our challenge in terms of insecurity” adding the country must shift the conversation away from the Fulanis.
He said “I have been to some of the major cattle markets in this country, and it is not the Fulanis, who sell the cattle. There are organised transnational criminal groups, who criss-cross communities with these cattle and there are equally criminalised groups, who purchase these cattle. Let us not lose focus in relation to what the true challenges are by targeting people that we think are minorities, are weak and often, cannot speak for themselves.”
He was delivering a lecture in Tamale during the launch of the 20th anniversary of Norsaac, a human rights community engagement, and policy influencing organisation.
His topic was: “Scourge of Violent Extremism in the Sub-region: Threats to Ghana’s Security, Stability and Socio-economic Development”.
Norsaac began as a club in 2002 in the Northern Region working to fight the prevalence of HIV and AIDS and has since grown to become an influential civil society organisation in the country implementing various projects to ensure positive change in society.
In recent times, the threat of violent extremism has heightened within the West African sub-region where some armed groups have waged attacks on some countries including Ghana’s neighbours, and there are fears that such attacks on the country could be imminent.
Various reasons including limited economic opportunities, inequalities, socio-economic and political marganalistation, tensions between indigenous and settler communities, high youth unemployment, and a sense of exclusion have been identified as accounting for violent extremist attacks.
Various public initiatives such as public education and campaigns including the “See Something, Say Something” have been ongoing to create awareness about the scourge of violent extremism in the country.
Professor Aning said “Between 2009 and 2022, there have been more than 15 separate instances and incidents that have put this country at risk. They have resulted in heightening concerns both about the nature and extent of Ghana’s vulnerability to these attacks.”
He raised issues with the way the See Something, Say Something campaign was being undertaken saying “The messaging is wrong. We are targeting the wrong people. We need to get those, who in our normal security thinking, we think do not matter, into this business because they are those, who are in the frontline, who will provide the needed information.”
He called for building of trust amongst different stakeholders to help share information on sensitive issues to help the fight against violent extremism in the country.
He said “It is critical that we transform institutions from Accra-based institutions to local based institutions that speak to how we live, understand how we live. Accra’s understanding of security is very different from the local level.”
He bemoaned lack of patriotism amongst the citizenry, saying “Faithfulness and loyalty to this country Ghana is no more a value that we cherish. Using the state of Ghana as a vehicle for corruption, for looting has become what drives people into public office. Let us begin the process and a personal commitment that serves to put Ghana at the Centre of everything that we do. That there is no greater honour, and there is no greater dignity than loving your country, being faithful, and being loyal.”
Alhaji Shani Alhassan Saibu, Northern Regional Minister said the Regional Security Council had instituted various measures including deploying Police officers at various vantage points within the region to protect the citizenry and ensure the security of the country.
Alhaji Saibu called on the citizenry and all stakeholders to be conscious of their environment and share information with the security agencies for appropriate action to ensure security.
Mr Alhassan Mohammed Awal, Executive Director of Norsaac recounted the history of the organisation and its contribution to the development of communities and improving livelihoods.
Mr Awal said “We look back with high level of satisfaction as our impact has become glaring and discussed on daily basis.”
He mentioned some of the successes during the period, as reaching out to over 100,000 young people and women directly on reproductive health issues, sexual and gender-based violence and participation of women in decision-making processes, mobilising and leading CSOs to observe national elections and contributing to credible, transparent, and inclusive elections, and providing direct grants to about 17 different organisations with amounts exceeding two million Ghana Cedis.
He expressed appreciation to all the 31 donor partners, who worked with Norsaac over the years saying, “As we embark on a new journey, we call for your support, objectivity and constructive feedback.”
Representatives of several organisations including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, Oxfam in Ghana delivered solidarity messages where they congratulated Norsaac for its inspiring journey and wished it well in the years ahead.