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Mayor’s Method of Ridding Tamale of Street Children Clumsy, Erratic and Inhumane

Sunday’s round up of street kids by the Tamale Metropolitan Assembly Task Force led by the mayor, Mr. Musah Superior, was clumsy, ill-advised and poorly executed. To a large extent,  the event demonstrated how intrusive and powerful government can be.  Simply put, it was heavy handed.

Without as much as a warning, even though the mayor emphasized that parents had prior knowledge of the raid, he and his Task Force came swooping in on the children like a U.S. army Apache helicopter surprising a bunch of frightened Iraqi troops in the 1991 Gulf War.  The children naturally were scared and petrified.

Their parents and a bemused public, of course, looked on helplessly. Where are civil society organizations when you most need them?

The frightened children, hungry, tired and lost were scooped up and taken to an unidentified location where social workers, doctors and others are brought in to attend to their immediate human needs.

Nice. But once again, government demonstrated that it can embark on an action without public input; in other words, it can do whatever it deems fit and no one in his/her right mind will dare question it. The power of government at play here.

Usually, government intervention to correct a social or economic problem is well intended. After all, it is the only entity with the power and financial resources to tackle the problem head on and prescribe meaningful solutions.  However, there are times when government’s action on a problem raises eyebrows and a whole lot of questions.

I believe mayor Superior and the Task Force had good intentions, to rid Tamale of street children and to provide these children with the best of circumstances; I have no qualms about that. Nonetheless, the mayor could have approached the problem more humanely.

And by this I mean, he would have been better off sending an army of social workers and health care providers to interact with the children to collect data on a variety of issues such as what brought he children to the streets, their family histories, school records and other pertinent information that could come in handy down the road.

I am hoping that the mayor and his task force executed this responsibility when they took the children to the unnamed location.

Though I don’t buy the mayor’s arguments for doing what he did on Sunday; in fact the arguments ring hollow;- his goal of ridding Tamale of street children is noble. But one important fact we are losing sight of amid all the chaos is this; street children are on the streets not on their own volition, not because they want to be there.

They don’t. They were forced there by circumstances far beyond their control. If these children had a choice, they would rather be home with their families than spend the night under the skies, moon and stars.

There is a correlation, parallels between the fate of children and the struggling national economy. If the economy is booming, and parents are gainfully employed and bringing home enough money to sustain their families, children will not be abandoned and left to fend for themselves on the streets.

The street children of Tamale present the mayor a unique opportunity to change the fate of thousands of Tamale residents; to work his international contacts and connections to create a strong local economy that will absorb the unemployed and ease the burden on parents.  It may be difficult, but it can be done, Mr. Mayor.




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