Ag IGP, George Akuffo Dampare

The idiomatic expression, ‘nine-day wonder’ is explained as, a person or thing that generates interest for only a short amount of time.

I heard someone suggest, on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show the other day, to Acting Inspector of Police (IGP), Dr. George Akuffo Dampare, that he should not let his outreach programmes be a nine-day wonder.

My reflex reaction was an assurance to that person that, it is exactly what it is – a nine-day wonder. It may just last a few days more than nine.

There are two things involved. Either he would have finished filling the template for all fresh public sector leaders or the core issues will overwhelm him, such that he will focus on them.

My wish is that he focuses on the essential issues and resolves them.  

We all know that it is only in heaven where there is no crime, but if he focuses on the fundamental issues, Ghana could become Heaven, security-wise.

The template for all fresh public sector leaders

It comprises few things such as reshuffling of staff, surrounding oneself with loyalists and reaching out to stakeholders.

Reshuffling is good, for the organisation and the individual. 

To the organisation, it ensures that no one feels indispensable in their positions. The best human resources are deployed appropriately for maximum outcomes. Most importantly, it helps to know who else can perform the task in case the incumbent is not available for whatever reason.  

For the Ghana Police Service (GPS), this is critical- it exposes people who are engaged in corrupt practices. Plus, it’s a fresh start for everybody, so you justify your inclusion. 

For the individual, it offers a break from the monotony/boredom associated with specialization or doing one thing for so long. It’s an opportunity to challenge yourself with something new. It offers an opportunity to develop new skills and the much-sought-after chance to run away from that stressful schedule. Dr. Dampare has ticked this box already.

Surrounding yourself with loyalists is something I have issues with. I heard former President Mahama say at his special aide, Stan Dogbe’s 45th birthday party, that “If you are looking for people to work with, the first thing you must look for is loyalty. The second is loyalty, and the third is loyalty. They say you must get merit and efficiency, but that is a bonus.” 

Your Excellency, I beg to differ. I will go with surrounding yourself with competent loyalists who are not bootlickers. I mean those who will put the issues as they are, before you, and help you decide what to do. Not those who would tell you what you want to hear. “The King’s new clothes” on my mind.

The Acting IGP has ticked the surrounding yourself with loyalists box as well. What I am not sure of, is whether he heeded the advice of Ex-President Mahama or chose merit over loyalty or combined both. A combination is my pick.

In this vein, I see ACP Kwesi Ofori is back as Director-General for Public Affairs. What I do not know is whether he has the courage to look the IGP in the eye and tell him what the issues are. I know though, as a PR practitioner, that my colleague, Kwesi Ofori is the brain behind the outreach programmes.

This is critical to enable you meet the important stakeholders. Already, Dr. Dampare has been to Abesim to commiserate with families of murder victims. He has also joined his colleagues on night patrols to experience their experiences firsthand. That’s good. The only issue is that it is part of the template – A nine-day wonder.

So far, he has received many messages of goodwill from relevant stakeholders. He seems to be enjoying the honeymoon period. Great.

Even as he goes about these tours so happily, I dare say, that every night, he spares a moment to pray that, the LETTER OF CONFIRMATION comes from the Police Council, sooner than later. In Ghana’s Public Sector, Acting is not necessarily a means to the end. From what I know, it can be an end in itself. 

Errr, bring your ears closer. Don’t let anybody hear. This one is for your ears only. I am in a very, very SIMILAR situation. So I am with him in spirit, in this respect. 

And I like the words of encouragement and advice that he is reported to have given to the men on the ground, “Show respect and courtesy, use golden words, “please, thank you”. Words that bring calmness and attract attention”. If we start getting these fundamentals right, the public will respect us, the trust in us will deepen, and then when you walk in uniform out there, doors are opened for you without you touching them.”

It is this one that got me saying, ‘this one diɛɛɛ!!!’- “Let’s shame them, even if someone wants to give you a gift, tell the person that it is enough because that gift cannot transform your life. What can transform your life is the blessings of God.” 

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the blessings of God as well as His ability to change one’s bad situation overnight.  But I also believe that humans have the ability to help themselves. After all, is it not the case that, “God helps those who help themselves”?

Case in point. The United States of America is the most religious country in the world, if you ask me. The evidence is on the dollar, their currency – In God We Trust. Yet they are constantly engaged in research and development to keep being the world’s superpower in every sense of the expression.

I admire and respect PhD holders so much. God willing, I may try my hands at getting one before it’s all over. Being a PhD, I have no doubt that Dr. Dampare is smart. The troubles they go through before gaining the right to write those two letters, Dr, as a prefix to their names, is better experienced than imagined.

I have observed closely. So far, he has not made any promises. Unless I have missed it. It is a very dicey situation. If you promise and you are not confirmed, the detractors will deride you in secret. So you play it safe. If you don’t show any evidence of ability to perform too, ‘wahala’- trouble. 

With all the goodwill he is enjoying, Dr. Dampare cannot fail. As mentioned earlier, I will join him in prayers. But he has to be strategic in his approach to this job.  A little bit of strategy and a bit of religion. It is doable. And I will attempt to prompt him to how some of the low-hanging fruits can be plucked, easily.

We can start by ensuring that he brings to the front burner, concerns that stakeholders point out to him, during the outreach sessions. These should be the core of issues that should, eventually, take Dr. Dampare away from the outings.

The core issues 

I lifted a Police Officer the other day. That was during IGP James Oppong-Boanuh’s tenure, anyway. 

He poured out his troubles to me as if I was in a position to solve them instantly. I sum his plight into two- low morale and lack of basic logistics.

Low morale

Under low morale, there are low salaries and generally poor conditions of service. 

Like all Ghanaian workers, my Police Officer ‘Co-Pilot’ was cagey about his salary when I sought to know. Yet, he said it is nothing to write home about.

So I checked. “A person working as a Police Officer in Ghana typically earns around GH¢2,860 per month. Salaries range from GH¢1,320 (lowest) to GH¢4,550(highest).”

“Constable GH¢700, Chief Inspector, GH¢1,400”- According to the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

That is the salary for the men who are required to maintain law and order, patrol public areas, enforce laws and regulations and arrest suspected offenders. They are supposed to protect you and I at the peril of their lives. Sometimes, engage robbers who are armed with very sophisticated weapons, in a shootout. Chai!!

I got to know that a Constable, is the rank for Senior High School graduates, whereas a Chief Inspector, is a Bachelor’s Degree holder.

With this picture, the broader picture of the cunning methods employed by, especially MTTD officials became much, much clearer.

They have peculiar ways of behaving at the checkpoints, the traffic lights and at big events.

At the checkpoints, no matter where, the men in black have the same phrase for eliciting help from motorists, “something for the boys?”, they ask.

Instead of checking for possible offenses, they use the opportunity to line their pockets with enough one Ghana cedi notes before day breaks. Clearly, to supplement the meagre salary.

At the traffic light, instead of making their presence felt to prevent motorists from jumping the red light, in order to avert the occurrence of accidents, they hide. They emerge from their hideouts and flag down speeding motorists dangerously. Sometimes, physically jumping in front of the vehicle to get the driver to stop.

In the end, money changes hands and the driver is seen speeding off once again. This is a ‘Cash Cow’ for the Ghana Police Service (GPS). I will attempt to prove that soon. 

At big events, when you expect them to be fully attentive to the security needs of the goings-on, they rather keep their eyes on their physiological needs such as, food and drinks. If you leave them out, you are in ‘biiiiig’ trouble.

Poor conditions of service

There are many instances that one could cite as evidence. Poor office furniture at the Police stations, lack of stationery, no medical insurance, apart from the dysfunctional NHIS, to mention a few.

Recently, a former classmate of mine who belongs to the Service, was admitted for major surgery in the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. We had to contribute through our WhatsApp group to pay part of the medical bill. Hm!

Lack of logistics

As regards logistics, we all know about the usual lack of vehicles to patrol the streets, especially within communities. 

My newfound friend told me that mostly, they have to rely on complainants to transport them to crime scenes. In instances where they use their own money for transportation, refund becomes a struggle.

No bulletproof vests. Personnel have to face armed robbers in shootouts without this life-saving apparel. They try ooo!!, if you ask me. 

I was so saddened to hear, during the probe into the causes of the Ejura disturbances, that non-availability of tear gas and rubber bullets were some of the reasons why Military personnel were called in, to support their Police counterparts. “Because Ghanaians fear soldiers”, one of the witnesses said. 

And the Deputy Ashanti Regional Police Commander, DCOP David Agyemang Adjem, who made the revelation before the George Koomson Committee, did so without any sign of discomfort at all. Per his body language.

Even the water cannon that was deployed, did not seem to have hot water. Just a little was spewed and that was it. Ao Ghana!!!

You can imagine my surprise when my Policeman ‘co-driver’, told me that they are compelled to buy their own uniforms, including boots. Really? I queried. He exclaimed yes!! If you don’t want to walk about in tattered uniform. Buy your own uniform from the GHc700 or GHC1, 400? Aaba!! I hope that is not true.

Increase in crime rates 

With all this information, the pieces that make up the puzzle, begun to form an appreciable image. No wonder the crime rate has been on the ascendancy in recent times.  

Data from the Statistics Research and Monitoring Unit (SRMU) of the Criminal Investigation Department(CID) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS) indicates that 306 murder cases have been reported to the Police in the first half of 2021. The statistics show a 20% increase in crime as compared to the same period in 2020-

Cases of attacks on bullion vans became rife in the recent past. Snatching of bags and phones by speeding motor riders is an everyday occurrence on the streets of Accra, Kumasi and other regional capitals. The GIMPA- Legon by-pass was, at a point, officially declared a no safety zone by the Greater Accra Regional Police Command. Ei!!

And the perpetrators are so bold in their actions. Some right in front of the Ghana Police Headquarters. 

A criminologist, Mr. Opoku Ware, in an interview on Joy News’ PM Express, explained that the robbers have taken to the streets because they have discovered that people tend to be more vulnerable when they are out there.

That speaks to how strategic the criminals are in their modus operandi. Some even had the guts to steal the mobile phone of a soldier in Wa. Such temerity.

In my awe-stricken mode, this statement by my Taxation Lecturer at GIMPA, Mr. Ali Nakyea Abdullah, came to mind-“the other name for criminals is, Wealth Redistribution Strategists”. 

Go ahead, don’t hold it. Smile as you wait patiently for Part II.

Let God Lead. Follow Him directly, not through any Human.