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Upper West Regional Minister Suspended; President Finally Has a Backbone

Few Ghanaians thought the President, Mr. Nana Akuffo Addo, had the backbone, the fortitude, the inner strength to discipline and rein in some of his wayward political appointees.

Because, up until last week when he suspended the Upper West Regional Minister, Alhaji Sulemana Alhassan for actively encouraging youth violence, Mr. Addo had demonstrated no prior inclination to wield the cudgel, the big stick against the likes of Alhaji Alhassan.

Instead, what we saw was a vacillating president who drifted between enforcing the law and protecting his violent supporters. Mr. Addo was never once resolute or firm; in fact, all he did when reports emerged of vigilante violence by groups allied with his party, was to mouth platitudes.

Sensing that there would be no hammer coming down hard on their heads if they flagrantly violated laid down regulations, youth and vigilante groups of the NPP decided to run roughshod over other Ghanaians, to do as they wish without fear of being held accountable. And, believe me they went about their mission with gleeful ruthlessness.

So, we witnessed the broad daylight storming of a Kumasi high court by Delta Force, the infamous vigilante band of knuckle-heads, the post election attacks on government offices and manhandling of holdouts from the Mahama administration and even, get this, intraparty violence where NPP youth turned on other members.

No amount of criticism from the main opposition party, civil society groups, and religious leaders could get Nana to even contemplate stiff and punitive measures against his supporters who engaged in violence.

The reason Mr. Addo stubbornly refused to act, to stop his errant supporters dead in their tracks, his critics charged, was his unflinching loyalty to those who helped engineer his political victory nearly eighteen months ago.

That noted, it looks like Nana's swift discipline of Mr. Sulemana was a complete departure from his previous stand on political violence, an explicit message that his patience with political violence was wearing thin and his loyalty to rowdy supporters was tenuous.

But, more crucially, the president signaled that from this point onward, he was removing the protective blanket, that until now had covered supporters who committed acts of violence.

I believe and so do many others that the Upper West regional minister should have been canned, fired, dismissed; the disgraceful and witless regional chief executive was more deserving of a stern punishment than a mere suspension.

Mr. Alhassan's outrageous action, shielding wrongdoers --- the five young men alleged to have attacked the Wa office of NADMO and physically assaulted workers ---  from the claws of justice amounted to what is known in legal jargon as obstruction of justice, and his punishment should have been instant dismissal.

The Upper West minister's behavior is emblematic of the pervasive rot in our political system where powerful politicians take advantage of impressionable, gullible and jobless young men to advance their political objectives.

I wasn't in the least taken aback by Mr. Sulemana's intervention to help the five law breakers. Truth be told, he was only doing what Ghanaians have come to expect of highly placed NPP leaders. Indeed, it is an article of faith among these officials to do anything and everything in their power to protect those of their members who openly defy our laws.

Remember Gloria Akuffo Addo's lamentable excuse for the thirteen members of Delta Force who stormed a Kumasi high court and freed their colleagues? All told, the thuggish and unconscionable behavior of young men associated with the NPP is beginning to grate on Ghanaians, leaving us with frayed nerves.

Political vigilante violence is now the new normal. Until the government gets a firm grip on this rising phenomenon, our society will continue to suffer because if political violence goes unpunished, it begets other forms of violence.Are you surprised at the uptick, the increase in armed robberies and domestic violence? I guess not.

Last week's action was a defining moment for Nana. My hope, and that of million others, is that his action was not designed to mollify his critics, minimize reputational damage or score political points, but to inject some semblance of sanity in a rapidly deteriorating environment.

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