A non-violence and conflict resolution activist has described as unfortunate comments by Mark Owen Woyongo, Minister for the Interior, over the bloody Talensi bye-election.
According to Nana Yaw Osei Darkwa, founder of Youth Icons, Ghana, the said comments had the potential to compel people to act violently.
He stated that if the interior minister – the one entrusted with the security of the citizenry – could make such utterances, then the country is vulnerable.
The interior minister is widely quoted as having said on Kumasi-based Ultimate FM, after the bloody clash in Talensi that, ‘Violence begets violence; the Azorka Boys would not mete out violence if they were not provoked. The other side also brought in some people – the Invisible Forces and the Bolga Bull Dogs; so violence begets violence.’
Mr. Woyongo has come under a barrage of public criticism after the comments, with some people calling for his resignation or be sacked by the president.
The violence, purportedly instigated by Sofo Azorka, the NDC Northern Regional chairman and his boys, led to some injuries and damage to vehicles and property in areas such as Tongo Central, Winkogo, Baare, Shiega and Duusi – all in the Talensi constituency. The NPP’s Bolga Bulldogs also reacted by attacking some NDC members.
Police investigations identified a number of vigilante groups they accused of being behind the violence. They included the NDC-affiliated Azorka boys, the Invincible Forces and Bolga Bulldogs of the NPP.
But the expert in non-violence and complicit resolution, speaking in an interview with DAILY GUIDE, said Mr. Woyongo took a part of the quotation to justify a certain cause which itself was unfortunate.
He said, ‘The statement was made by Martin Luther King, a celebrated non-violence and civil rights activist. He did not leave it just at that; he was articulating a point.’
In the view of the National Coordinator of the One Ghana Peace Project in the run-up to the 2008 general elections, Luther King, meant that because violence would always beget violence and hate beget hate, the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend was love.
Mr. Osei Darkwa indicated that the statement from the interior minister must be a wakeup call to all well-meaning Ghanaians.
He said, ‘Mr. Woyongo should rather be fighting for the collapse of those quasi-security groups instead of acknowledging their illegal operations.’
Mr. Osei Darkwa advocated the introduction of ‘Alternatives to Violence Education’ course in Ghana at least to the senior high school level.
This, he noted, would teach and equip the youth with a more powerful and effective way to address issues of violence.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
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