Involve citizens in interventions to strengthen security – Panellists
Discussants at a dialogue on trending conflicts in the Upper West Region have called for the inclusion of the citizenry in interventions to strengthen security in the country.
They indicated that strengthening security was not a preserve of the security services but the entire population who had a major stake in their own security.
The Dean of the School of Education and Life Long Learning (SoELL) at the Simon Diedon Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies, Professor Mohammed Hadi Abdul-Ganiu Bolaji, who was part of the panel said security required interagency and community collaboration.
The regional dialogue session on trending conflict issues in Northern Ghana was an activity under the Sahel Peace Initiative (SPI) organised by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on the theme; “Trending conflicts in Ghana: Fertile grounds for violent extremism; A call for action.”
The SPI which was at the instance of the Catholic Church aimed at promoting peace and building a cohesive society to ensure that individuals living in Ghana experienced greater levels of peace, social cohesion and resilience.
Prof. Bolaji said there was the need for collective mechanism because security was a shared responsibility and community vigilantism was the best strategy for determining strange occurrences in the community.
“Community members are familiar with their norms and are quick to identify strange occurrences so their inclusion will break the barriers and help fight terrorism,” he said.
Governance, he said was very important to security because loopholes such as corruption, unemployment, among others gave room to people to vent their grievances at the least opportunity.
“I also suggest that frequent campaigns are launched against proliferation of small arms and light weapons; conduct occasional civilian disarmament to reduce weapons in the society and use both military and non-military approaches such as sensitisation and preaching awareness and peace at religious gatherings as well as timely resolution of grievances to promote security,” he said.
Adding his voice, the Vice Dean of the SoELL, Professor Samuel Marfo, said terrorism was complex and dicey and required collective approach between the state and individuals.
“If we fail to address minor infractions, they will grow and become bigger problems; for instance, people’s perception of smaller tribes and minority groups such as the Fulani in Ghana; if not properly addressed can serve as a recipe for recruitment of the aggrieved group by terrorists,” he said and urged the public to be open-minded and embrace such minority groups.
Mr Yusif Kanton, the Executive Director of Community Development Alliance, a non-governmental organization, added a call for government and stakeholders to work together and reduce unemployment and economic hardship which he said were also security threats.
Opening the event, the Director at the Governance, Justice and Peace Directorate of the National Catholic Secretariat, Very Rev Father Clement Kwasi Adjei, appealed for the prompt resolution of internal conflicts around chieftaincy, economic and other social issues in the country in order not to serve as fertile grounds for violent extremism.
FROM LYDIA DARLINGTON FORJODUR, WA