Following the killing of Mfantseman MP, Hon. Ekow Hayford Quansah, Minister for the Interior, Hon. Ambrose Dery, on Tuesday, announced that all Members of Parliament are going to be provided with personal bodyguards with immediate effect.
Parliamentarians, like other professionals, are exposed to severe hazards by the nature of their work, and therefore need security.
I however find the move to provide security to MPs disingenuous and a betrayal to the ordinary people of Ghana who it appears; have been left to their fate.
Besides, it is impracticable to think that a policeman sitting in an MP or Minister’s car provides him/her invincibility. The criminals have become so vicious and bolstered in their operations to the extent that they go after bullion vans and even attack police stations and officers in broad daylight.
If I may ask;
1. Does the Police have the numbers in an era of heightened state and sense of insecurity among the population?
2. What will be the impact on the police-civilian ratio in Ghana?
As far as I am concerned, the police-civilian ratio is 1:900. The prescribed UN standards put it at 1:500. Meaning, providing 1200 police officers to 275 could have served over a million Ghanaians (200 officers with immediate effect, 200 officers by close of the year, 800 more officers in the future = 1,200 officers x 900 citizens = 1,080,000 citizens. Excludes officers attached to Ministers in parliament and leadership).
3. Does the protection of the MPs far outweigh the general security of the population?
Crime is increasing with over 1.2 million illegal guns and over 500 murders every year in Ghana (U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory, 2019).
4. Who pays for the travel expenses of police personnel who travel with MPs to and from their constituencies?
5. What quantitative or qualitative analytical thinking went into this decision? Is there any credible intelligence that points to the fact that this is the solution?
6. Are recently recruited policemen experienced enough in the service to undertake the role of protecting MPs?
This I ask because it is not every police officer who can perform bodyguard duties. It is specialized and requires extensive training.
Let us be realistic. This issue is bigger than just providing security to Parliamentarians. We need a wider, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted approach to dealing with the broader issue of insecurity in Ghana.
There is a need to modernize crime and investigation. This will not only help police present “watertight” cases to judges but will invariably discourage crime. We need a National Security Strategy that seeks to predict, pre-empt, and prevent the ever-growing and more complex inter and intra-national crime dynamics.
Let us not localize the issue. Improving national security inures to the benefit of all citizens including MPs. This move does not only deprive society of security but appears to be merely ceremonial rather than aimed at attaining any form of functional security.
Security Analyst/Executive Director
Jatikay Centre for Human Security and Peace Building