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IGP’s idea to ban social media is bold, preemptive and very much what we need.


socialmediaThe Inspector General of Police, Mr. John Kudolor has ignited a firestorm with his controversial proposal to ban all forms of social media on election day.

His intention, Mr. Kudolor trenchantly asserted, is to forestall the kind of violence that marred elections in other African countries.

One point should be made clear: Mr. Kudolor has no horse in the race. He is a dedicated civil servant who is deeply worried about the threat of violence in the upcoming election, and his proposed ban on social media is one of the various ways he deems appropriate to combat that threat.

Those who have an ax to grind with the IGP have been quick to sound the alarm, screaming and yelling at the top of their voices long before they have had time to analyze and dissect the merits and demerits of Mr.Kudolor’s idea…..they have decried the move as blatant political manuevering to advantage one political party.

Opponents have also raised legal issues, claiming rather naively that the proposal runs foul of our national constitution and violates free speech, freedoms of the press, assembly and association.

Given the chance, opponents of the proposal would have the IGP wear sack cloth, recant his statement and rendered an unqualified mea culpa…..a big “I am sorry.”

I have no qualms about the IGP’s proposal.  I don’t for once think the IGP has overstepped his bounds and is trampling on our rights as citizens of a sovereign nation. Rather, Mr.Kudolor’s idea is bold, pragmatic and preemptive.

It is the kind of tool Ghana needs at this crucial time of our national history to deter those who harbor malicious intentions towards our democratic experiment and are hell bent on using social media to foment violence and chaos.

Social media has its clear advantages; for the first time in human history, communication is easier and faster and millions around the world have been enfranchised and empowered. However, social media has its down side, its numerous disadvantages are just too many to highlight here. But here are a few.

Unlike traditional media with its editorial controls and strict adherence to the rules of journalism,  social media sorely lacks editorial supervision. Anyone who capable of stringing a few sentences together can get on social media and cause mayhem and consternation.

Lives, reputation and careers have been ruined as a direct consequence of social media projecting wrong and malicious information about individuals, groups of people and business entities.

Be that as it may, social media is the wild, wild west of modern day journalism and absolute care must be taken to ensure that those bent on disrupting the November election are not given the opportunity to use it as a platform to tear our nation apart.

There is the real possibility that violence could erupt during the elections. The minor skirmishes we witnessed during the registration period last month were signals that things could get completely out of hand if law enforcement authorities don’t come up with an elaborately mapped and effective plan to combat trouble-makers.

There are certain segments of the population who are clamoring for violence to settle political scores. These elements are behaving as if they are unaware of the huge impact that post election violence can have on the national psyche, on the political system we have worked so hard to craft over the last twenty something years and on our fragile economy which is struggling mightily to recover from the 2008 global financial implosion.

If we sit on our hunches and allow violence to mar our elections, we will have a lot to lose….indeed, it will take us…a developing nation….years to recover from the devastation of a civil strife. Ghanaians will undergo untold financial, physical and emotional hardships and foreign investments will dry up as we lose our reputation as the most stable democracy in West Africa,

We should not allow our dear nation to slip into lawlessness. The destabilizing civil wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Ivory Coast should serve as lessons to us.



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