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Scaring Civilians With Massive Military Parade In Dagbon Isn’t The Answer

The image was jarring; an assortment of security agencies — heavily armed camouflage-clad soldiers, helmeted police officers and their snotty nose civilian superiors in fright-inducing vehicles slowly motoring through the principal streets of Yendi as startled residents watched in complete bemusement.

Has Yendi suddenly morphed from a sleepy backwater into a killing field, a la Syria, a ravaging war zone warranting ” a humanitarian military intervention?” Of course, not; Yendi remains blissfully calm.

Okay, the government’s determination to prevent the outburst of violence is understandable, but the sheer and raw demonstration of brute force by the security agencies was clearly over the top. More troubling, it telegraphed all the wrong signals that the folks in Yendi are itching to clobber each other silly. Well, they aren’t. It just reinforced a certain widely held perception of the northerner as untamed and violent, to which I say hogwash.

Yendi where I had my formative years, has had its share of hiccups and by the way, which town in Ghana hasn’t? But through its dark period, the town has rediscovered itself and made an unflinching commitment to pursue peace at all cost, the culmination of which we witnessed at a moving and historic ceremony last week at Jubilee House in Accra.

Peace is not the exclusive preserve of other towns in Ghana. Yendi is just as deserving of this all important and life sustaining ingredient. However, to amass troops in a town that is on the cusp of experiencing something that had once seemed so elusive and distant isn’t exactly prudent policy.

All told, the last time I checked, we are a democracy and in democratic societies, the military is barely seen in public spaces. Its presence is kept to a minimum. The only agency tasked with dealing with civilians is the police service for the simple reason that it constantly interacts with the public.

Yendi holds a special place in my heart; I have an emotional attachment to that wonderful but star-crossed town; my grandparents, and other relatives lived there and died there and are buried there. Like thousands of others I yearn for peace to return to the place I will always call home.

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