GHANA Needs A Dialogue On Funding For Countering Extremism and Terrorism – An Owula Mangortey observation

The International Media recently announced that suspected Islamists killed three members of Ivory Coast’s Security at a border town with Islamist-torn Burkina Faso.

Insiders of the Ivory Coast Army were reported as saying that the raids come less than 10 months of a deadly attack in the same area, and with warnings of jhadists advancing from the Sahel towards the Gulf of Guinea.

According to the reports, about 60 heavily armed men from Burkina Faso launched the attacks on the Ivorian Security Forces at the Kofolo village near the border.

Ghana’s National Security is aware of the threats of extremists and terrorists along the country’s northern frontiers.

The Government of Ghana, and its National Security Council certainly have Intelligence on the huge funds governments of countries in the sub-region such as Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, etc. are investing in training and acquisition of modern weapons and technologies to counter violent extremism and terrorism.

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The question to ask is, is Ghana keeping pace with funding of its Security Agencies? Are the Government and People of Ghana playing ostritch with retrogressive arguments of not having money to provide enough food, medical care, water and sanitation, educational facilities, etc., and so cannot afford to buy modern weapons for its Security Services?

Ghana’s Security Insiders say extremists and terrorists sometimes operate some 10 to 20 km along the Ghana- Burkina Faso border. There are particular concerns about terrorists disguised as hunters, farmers, and herdsmen finding their way into the Gbelle Forest Reserve in the Sissala West. District of the Upper West Region.

Last year, I gathered some information about terrorists at Lawra, Nandom, Daffiama, Gwollu, Nyimati, Bullu, Jeffisi, Duwie, Dasime, and the Gbelle village located inside the Gbelle Forest Reserve.

I noted the serious security implications of the location of the Gbelle village several kilometers inside the forest reserve, as hunters, farmers, herdsmen and traders from other towns and villages within and outside Ghana’s borders trudged to the forest under the guise of visiting their relatives in the Gbelle village.

I was pleased to note the effort of the Government of Ghana to relocate the Gbelle village to a location outside the forest reserve, and the efforts of the Army and the Airforce in keeping close eyes on movements within the Gbelle forest reserve.

One may ask, what is the degree of responsiveness of the Government and People of Ghana to the threats of extremists and terrorists?

When one takes a look at the lax security at the country’s shopping malls, hotels, critical national infrastructure some of which are operated by the private sector, gatherings at sports complexes, beaches, educational facilities, funerals, markets, churches, mosques, political party campaigns and recreational centres, one is likely to get the impression that Ghana is a sitting duck waiting to be dismembered by extremists and terrorists.

Additionally, Ghana has the mineral resources which extremists and terrorists covet to fund their activities, as well as the favourable terrain for guerrilla activities, and the large water bodies for transportation.

Fortunately, the Governemt of Ghana is reportedly to have adopted a bi- partisan approach to prepare a document on preventing and combating extremism and terrorism titled ” NATIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR PREVENTING AND COUNTERING VIOLENT EXTREMISM AND TERRORISM IN GHANA.”

Going through a copy of the document, I noted that the Government and People of Ghana recognise that “violent extremism and terrorism is a serious threat to international peace and security and a menacing challenge that requires both national and international counter-measures.”

I noted that one of the priorities of the Framework entails a systematic identification of the vulnerabilities of society to the threats of violent extremism and terrorism and the building of the required resilience to combat them. It involves measures “to safeguard vulnerable communities, critical national infrastructure, mobility corridors, public places as well as cyberspace.”

Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, stated the seriousness the country attached to the fight against extremism and terrorism in a “foreword” to the Framework document as follows:

“We recognise that we must prevent and combat violent extremism groups and terrorists who threaten the security of our country, and protect our national interests from such attacks. This requires a well defined inter-agency approach for preventing and combating the menace.”

President Akufo-Adfo stated further that, “several security measures have been put in place to combat the activities of extremist groups and potential terrorist threats.”

The Givernment saddled the Ministry of National Security with the responsibility for the successful implementation and delivery of the Framework. The Minister of National Security is tasked with providing overall direction and coordination of the counter terrorism and extremism activities. He is to work through the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and with stakeholder institutions across Government including MMDAs, REGSECs, METROSECs, MUSECs, DISECs, the Security, Intelligence, Law Enforcement and Emergency Services.

An immediate key action plan to be rolled out by the National Security Minister include:

(a). Establishment of National Counter Terrorism Operational Centre as part of the National Counter Terrorism Centre and the Ministry of National Security.

(b). Establish a National Terrorist Database

(c). Regular sharing of information and accessibility by all the identified security and intelligence agencies

(d). Monitoring the entry of radical elements into the country.

I travelled throughout the country and noted some of the efforts put in place by the Government and its Security Agencies to prevent terrorist attacks in Ghana. I noted in particular the Military’s Sit- and Look Operations, Forward Operating Bases (FOBs), refurbished barracks and the stationing of battalions at new barracks at Wa and Bazua (Binduri) which are focussed on rapid response to counter threats to Critical National Institutions (CNIs) and the Citizens.

I noted also the work of the Police night patrol teams between Ashanti Mampong and Nkoranza, from Tamale to Bolgatanga, from.Gbelle to Jirapa, from Kpasa through Damanko to Bimbila. I noted also the work of the Immigration Service at Aveyime, Hamile Akanu, Segbe, Edusuazo and Ellanda Wharf.

It is worth noting the Government’s commitment to building 13 additional FOBs across the northern part of the country from Bole through parts of the Savannah, Upper West and Upper East Regions, to Bimbila in the Northern Region.

I went to the locations of some of the FOBs and barracks on the Accra Spintex Road, at Kpasa Bimbila, Wa, Bazua and Bawku.

I noted also the Military deployments to guard the Bui and Akosombo dams, the Adomi bridge, Ghana Gas infrastructure facilities, the BOST facilities at Maamewater, and the strategic military/police “barrier” on the outskirts of Juapong.

My question to the Government of Ghana and its Security Agencies is, is there enough funding for the procurement of the appropriate modern weapons and technologies to combat violent extremism and terrorism?

The recent Government of Ghana miniscule budgetary allocation to the Security Agencies is disappointing and leaves much to be desired.

As the Government of Ghana and its Security Agencies may be aware, governments of some countries in the sub-region have increased funding for troops training and procurement of modern weapons for counter-terrorism operations; and they are likely to push the extremists and terrorists into a country of least resistance.

I wish to remind the Government and People of Ghana that the day the extremists and terrorists strike and note any logistics inadequacies of Ghana”s security agencies, this country will be in what the GAs of Ghana call ” hot deep chinafé.”

Accordingly, I make an urgent appeal to the Government of Ghana, leading Statesmen and Stateswomen, past and present National Security Chiefs, and Leadership of Parliament to quietly engage in a dialogue on increasing funding to the State Security Agencues, especially the Military, for countering extremism and terrorism in Ghana.

IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY!

I shall return.

Owula Mangortey

Western Togoland

31st March, 2021

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