Author: William Nlanjerbor Jalulah
The penchant of past and current governments of Ghana to immediately set up committees or commissions to look into issues of national interest but eventually will not implement the recommendations of such committees or commissions is a source of worry and must be discouraged. In fact, it is a waste of the taxpayers’ money and waste of productive time.
One of such wasteful adventures by this government was the setting up of a seven-member fact-finding committee to unravel the cause of the violence that erupted in Chereponi between the Konkomba and Chokosi ethnic groups.
The conflict erupted on January 1, 2019, and led to loss of lives on both sides – as usual, no winner because there has never been a winner in a conflict or war. And on January 10, 2019, the government, through the Interior Ministry with the support of the National Peace Council, held a Peace Conference in Tamale in the Northern Region. The conference brought together tribesmen and traditional leaders of the feuding factions to try and settle their differences for peace to return to Chereponi.
During the Peace Conference, a seven-member fact-finding committee to look into the cause of the violence was set up. The committee had a former Inspector General of Police, Mr. Patrick Acheampong, as its Chairman.
As I sat throughout the peace conference in Tamale and witnessed presentations by both sides – Konkombas and Chokosis, I was satisfied and convinced that they both regretted that for the first time in history, they were engaged a violent clash resulting in loss of lives and wanton destruction of houses, livestock and other properties.
Subsequently, Mr. Ambrose Dery announced the composition of the fact-finding committee, which also had on it a representative of the National Peace Council. And, as was expected, the remorseful leaders of the feuding factions pledged their commitment to cooperate with the committee, and also to accept its recommendations. This was a healthy signal that the roadmap to resolving the conflict had started.
Though the committee was given up to February 12, 2019 to present its report to the government, this was delayed until March 12, 2019, when the report was presented to the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery.
When the committee finally presented its report to the Interior Minister on March 12, 2019, the expectations of all stakeholders, including the feuding factions, were that the government would go by its promise of implementing the committee’s recommendations, in order to end the conflict.
Sadly, three months after the report was submitted, the government has not even issued a whitepaper on the report, let alone, implementing the recommendations.
If the government knew it was not interested in implementing the recommendations of the committee, why did it set it up in the first place?
If, indeed, the purpose of setting up the committee was to find the cause of the conflict and to resolve it, why would the government not implement the recommendations, as submitted by the committee?
Barely two weeks after the committee’s report was submitted to the government, the National Peace Council in Tamale called on the government to swiftly implement the recommendations in the report. This call fell on deaf ears.
From the above, it is clear that the government has failed the people of Ghana, and more importantly, the Konkombas and Chokosis, because if the recommendations had been implemented, the renewed clashes could have been averted.
The question now is will the government set up a new committee to look into the renewed clashes, since what caused the first violence is not the same as the latest one?
Listening to well-meaning personalities from both ethnic groups – Konkombas and Chokosis – it is worth noting that they are not enthused about the conflict and will want to see to its resolution.
However, if the government maintains this posture and continues to keep the committee’s report to its chest, for reasons best known to it, then it is not giving hope to these personalities, most of who spent resources and productive time to take part in the Peace Conference. They still spend same to ensure peace is restored.
Having said this, I want to call on the government to, as a matter of urgency, implement the committee’s recommendations.
In conflict situations, there are always possible profiteers. I also wish to call on the security agencies to fish out any one found to be a profiteer of this conflict and mete out the appropriate sanctions to them, irrespective of their political, ethnic or religious colourisations.
Meanwhile, I have also observed that some media houses and individual media practitioners have not shown a high sense of professionalism in their reportage since this conflict broke out. One thing media practitioners should remember is the Rwanda genocide, which was as a result of irresponsible media reportage.
Conflicts and wars know no boundaries. So, if you know, as a media house or an individual media practitioner, that you cannot exhibit ethical standards regarding conflict reporting, please, stay away from same. This will serve our Motherland better than to fuel or inflame passions with your one-sided reportage.
Mostly, ethnic conflicts have always started as a misunderstanding between two individuals before spreading and eventually turning into ethnic conflicts. I, therefore, suggest that henceforth, we should all educate our people to treat misunderstandings between individuals as individual issues, and not presume that if two persons of different ethnic groups pick up quarrels, same should be viewed or interpreted as an ethnic issue. Rather, such issues, if criminal, should be treated as such by reporting those involved to the law enforcement agencies for the appropriate legal actions to be taken against them.
The devastating impact of this Chereponi conflict has hit both sides beyond imagination. These are people who inter-marry, share common farmlands, market places, schools, work places, hospitals, among others. Today, due to the conflict, there is no more trust between the two ethnic groups. This certainly is making life unbearable for them. To this end, any efforts to end the conflict and reunite the two ethnic groups should be brought on board in the soonest possible time.