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Ghana isn’t in the crosshairs of Boko Haram, Mr Woyongo; stop stoking fears of a terrorist attack


Politicians are prone to outrageous pronouncements; it is a truism voters have to contend with daily.  

Oftentimes, their utterances are deliberately calibrated to burnish their political bona fides, marginalize

political foes and woo voters. Other times, they just spew blatant nonsense. And that is exactly what

Woyongo managed to accomplish a fortnight ago.

Following the massacre in Paris, France, of the journalists and cartoonists at the French satirical

magazine, Charlie Hebdo, politicians around the world embarked on a shameless act of fanning fear and

hysteria among their citizens about impending attacks from Islamist terrorists, “the terrorists are

coming, the barbarians are at the gate, so let’s do everything to stop them,” they said.

Eager not to be outdone by his peers, Woyongo joined the chorus of voices calling for vigilance against

terrorism. He shamelessly asserted that Ghana could be attacked at any time by Boko Haram, the

Islamist militant group that has terrorized, killed and maimed tens of thousands civilians in northeastern

Nigeria since 2009.

Woyongo’s stunning observation was just as self-serving as it was ridiculous and was doubtlessly hyped

to portray the minister as a tough talking, stalwart guardian and defender of the nation’s borders.

However, one troubling aspect of Mr. Woyongo’s statement was the conspicuous absence of credible


The evidence Woyongo trotted out to back his claim of a Boko Haram attack was at best, scanty and

least convincing— President Mahama’s current leadership of the Economic Commission of West African

States and his constant condemnation of the insurgents and calls for an end to the insurgency in

northeastern Nigeria. But scrutinized carefully, the President’s ECOWAS engagement is not enough

reason to draw the ire of Boko Haram.

The interior minister may be a capable public servant, but stoking fears of an insurgent group that is

physically far removed from the shores of Ghana, and one that hasn’t publicly disclosed or declared any

intention of extending its devastating terror to Ghana is the height of irresponsibility. Indeed, it is quite a

stretch to claim as the interior minister did that Ghana could be the target of a Boko Haram attack.

Woyongo wasn’t the only one making those frivolous predictions; he had company in the persons of Dr.

Annin of the Kofi Annan International Peace-Keeping Training Center and Dr. Vladimir Antwi Danso, a

researcher at Legon who both voiced fears of an attack by Boko Haram militants.

They based their assessments on the campaign billboards of incumbent Nigerian President Jonathan

Goodman and his political rival, General Mohammed Buhari adorning some streets in Accra. The

billboards have since been taken down—–sometimes, you wonder if these so called experts are more

eager to hug the limelight than to provide credible and reliable information.  

These assertions, coming as they are in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks feed into a narrative that

has fast gained currency —free societies that stand up and condemn terrorism are prone to terrorist

attacks. Unlike the interior minister and those so called security experts, I would stick out my neck and

say with all certainty that Ghana would never be attacked by Boko Haram.

Of course, like other nations in today’s globalized environment, the country is not immune to violence —

—armed robbery and the occasional ethnic flare-ups, but violence associated with Islamic

fundamentalism? That, for sure, is a hard sell. Ghana is a pluralistic society where freedom of

expression, religion and association are cherished and highly valued. Our level of tolerance is unparalled

anywhere else in the West African region. Given this background, Boko Haram will have an uphill task

recruiting adherents in Ghana.

If you ask me, Woyongo, Annin and Danso did Ghana a great disservice with their really awful

predictions. Ghanaians would have been spared the anxiety and fear of a terrorist attack if these

gentlemen had taken the time to do a comprehensive study of the uprising in Nigeria and the group

perpetrating the violence.

There is one important factor the gentlemen in their assessments failed to note, so let me help them out

Boko Haram is not operating in a vacuum. In fact, it is continuing in the footsteps of Usman Dan Fodio,

the father of Islamic fundamentalism in Northern Nigeria. Fodio’s exploits in the 19th century helped set

the stage for subsequent Islamic upheavals in that part of the country.

Boko Haram, though affiliated with other Islamic terror groups around the world, doesn’t have the goal

of internationalizing its struggle. Its sights are trained on the domestic front; to topple the corrupt

Nigerian government, establish an Islamic state and institute sharia law. Its bloody activities are

confined to the northeastern region of Nigeria and the border region with Cameroon.  It is currently

engaged on two fronts, Nigeria and Cameroon and that is taking a toll on its resources, human and


The organization is not well resourced to extend its mayhem to our shores. It depends hugely on

kidnapping and armed robbery to sustain its operations in Nigeria. But its brutalities and violence have

alienated a large section of the Nigerian civilian population, thus rendering it difficult for the terror

group to rob and kidnap people for ransom.

There is no evidence that the group has established roots in Ghana; it has no sleeper cells in Ghana, not

in the northern regions where Islam is widely practiced or in the numerous Muslim communities

scattered around the country.  Muslims in Ghana are just not receptive to the ideas and ideology of

Boko Haram.

More crucially, Ghanaian Muslims are not marginalized or relegated to the fringes of society.  They are

well integrated in the Ghanaian society. In fact, they will be the first to point out that they are treated

decently and enjoy the same freedoms and advantages other citizens enjoy.

And let us not gloss over the fact that there aren’t fiery Islamic preachers indoctrinating young Ghanaian

Muslims with the brand of Islam that has caused so much heartache in the world.  Ghanaians should

take heart, the chances of Boko Haram militants unleashing their depraved violence in Ghana are nil,

far-fetched and remote.


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