In three years of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration, Ghanaians have had so much to be thankful and appreciative of; Ghanaians have also had so much to be angry about.
The anger and rage on social media against some Government appointees have been very telling. Seeing tweets and Facebook posts from some of my very apolitical friends on the conduct of some Government officials is now quite a common thing.
The Free SHS policy has been immense, Government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been impressive, although it faced its own share of challenges. Countries all over the world faced similar challenges.
When Ghanaians woke up to the news of a member of parliament and deputy minister of state who tested positive walking to a registration centre despite testing positive for COVID-19 very few would’ve imagined that another appointee would drop the bar lower.
On Monday 20th July 2020 member of parliament for Awutu Senya East and Minister for Special Development initiative, Hawa Koomson, in the company of “her boys” pulled a gun and fired shots in an area where people had gathered to partake in the on-going voter registration exercise.
The Minister in her defense explained that she did that to protect herself because she felt threatened and ‘outsiders’ had come to the constituency to register.
It is however rather unfortunate that actions like that of Hawa Koomson would take the shine off a government trying to do its best for the citizens.
Her decision to fire gunshots to “protect herself” in her constituency was inapt.
“When I got the information that people were being bused from some places into my constituency, I couldn’t sit down for people to come and register in my constituency and elect an MP for the people of Kasoa…I work with men because I can’t work with women alone in this political enterprise. None of my men had guns on them when we got to the centre, I fired the shots myself. Yes, I gave those warning shots to protect myself,” The minister said.
I rather wished our politicians would fire warning shots to end acts of corruption, unemployment, filth, our poor healthcare systems, flooding and not ordinary Ghanaians whose only crime is to take part in a civic exercise.
It’s okay to protect yourself when you are threatened, but it’s for this same reason that the public funds police protection for our ministers.
To be honest, between Carlos Ahenkorah and Hawa Koomson’s irresponsible showing, I struggle to identify who had been more reckless considering how they both put the lives of Ghanaians at risk.
It’s safe to say Hawa Koomson’s actions however could’ve taken people to the grave earlier.
There are so many unanswered questions about her actions.
“Why did she have to fire shots when people where gathered ?”
“Where was her police protection paid for by taxpayers to protect her ?”
Hawa Koomson’s irresponsible spectacle at the Steps to Christ registration center at the Awutu Senya East Constituency was an embarrassing scene.
Endangering the lives of the very people she pledged to serve is despicable, and shameful to say the least.
For a President who called on Ghanaians to be citizens and not spectators, one would have expected that when helpless citizens cried for help, he would’ve placed the interest of Ghanaians ahead of that of the NPP.
The Christian Council, security experts, civil society organizations, ordinary Ghanaians have all condemned this.
“We expect her to resign, If she doesn’t do that, the President must terminate her appointment… As far as I am concerned, there is no justification for what she did, especially as a lawmaker breaking the law,” Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante the chairperson of the Peace Council said.
“There is no reason why our election should be characterized by violence and the leaders… must lead the way in terms of what they do and in terms of what they say.” He added.
What is the President waiting for?
Speaking at Sankore in the Asunafo North District of the Ahafo Region as part of his 4-day tour of two new regions in that part of the country in April this year, President Akufo-Addo warned that the new vigilantism bill will not spare any individual regardless of his/her position in government.
“The Bill, when passed, will ensure that not only the people who are inciting the violence will be punished, but also the powerful people behind them will face the full extent of the law. Once Parliament passes this bill, everyone involved in vigilantism will face the law – whether you are a Minister, Regional Minister, MP or not, once you are implicated, you will be prosecuted,” he added.
Mr. President, it is now time to back your words with actions. Hawa Koomson’s actions amount to political thuggery and vigilantism.
The violence around this whole voter registration process is unbecoming. It doesn’t speak well of our democracy.
There have been about five or six instances of reported violence at the registration centres. It could be more.
Already, an individual in Banda lost his life during the registration process after gun violence erupted in the area.
It was pathetic seeing the National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Freddie Blay and other leading members of the NPP defend one of their own, though not surprising. They are paid to do that.
My only problem with the NPP’s defense of this is that it undermines institutions. With the President’s silence on the situation and the comments of Freddie Blay, I find it difficult how the police will for instance act independently on this.
The President must act decisively on Hawa Koomson. He cannot sit on the fence on this matter. He must act as head of state and not the leader of the party.
Aside from the NPP, every other person that matters in a conversation such as this has condemned the actions of Hawa Koomson, I expect the President to do same.
It’s unfortunate that energy would have to be directed at the presidency to take action on one of its appointees in the middle of a devastating pandemic, but it’s safe to admit that is the right thing to do in reassuring Ghanaians that our interest, welfare and security remain paramount.
It’s not enough for the police to interrogate Hawa Koomson, it’s not enough for her gun used to be retrieved. While I believe it’s a step in the right direction by the police, I believe the minister should be punished to act as a deterrent to all especially as we go into an election.
The police must act and act fast, they do not need the permission of anyone to do their job. If our institutions don’t work, we don’t have a future.
We cannot afford to undo the little progress we have made in our fight against political vigilantism.
Mr President, your silence is loud.