Opinion

Feature: On the Burkina issue, what did our President say wrong?

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Feature

H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was recently at the US-Africa Leaders Summit, in Washington, USA and he was purported to have said that, our next-door neighbour, Burkina Faso had paid for the services of a group of Russian mercenaries, called the Wagner Group, to help fight an insurgency in that country. This mercenary outfit is said to be run by a certain Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close friend of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

He added that a mine was used to pay the Wagner Group and that this mine in question is near Ghana’s northern border with Burkina Faso.

Nana Addo went on to express worry about this development along our northern border, adding, his concern was based on the fact that he recently criticized Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Moscow had, however, denied having any links with the group.

Firstly, who is a mercenary?A mercenary, sometimes, also known as a soldier of fortune or hired gun, is a private individual, particularly a soldier, that joins a military conflict for personal profit, is otherwise an outsider to the conflict, and is not a member of any other official military.  Mercenaries fight for money or other forms of payment rather than for political interests.

Beginning in the 20th century, mercenaries have increasingly come to be seen as less entitled to protections by rules of war than non-mercenaries. The Geneva Conventions declare that mercenaries are not recognized as legitimate combatants and do not have to be granted the same legal protections as captured service personnel of the armed forces.

In practice, whether or not a person is a mercenary may be a matter of degree, as financial and political interests may overlap. Modern mercenary organizations are generally referred to as Private Military Companies or PMCs.

In his publication, Mercenaries and War: Understanding Private Armies Today, Sean McFate an ex-military personnel and paratrooper, stated that mercenaries are more powerful than experts realize, a grave oversight. Those who assume they are cheap imitations of national armed forces invite disaster because for-profit warriors are a wholly different genus and species of fighter.

Private military companies such as the Wagner Group are more like heavily armed multinational corporations than the Marine Corps. Their employees are recruited from different countries, and profitability is everything.

Patriotism is unimportant, and sometimes a liability. Unsurprisingly, mercenaries do not fight conventionally, and traditional war strategies used against them may backfire.Consequently, there is a dangerous lacuna of understanding concerning this emerging threat.

Private force has become big business, and global in scope. No one truly knows how many billions of dollars slosh around this illicit market. All we know is that business is booming. Recent years have seen major mercenary activity in Yemen, Nigeria, Ukraine, Syria, and Iraq. Many of these for-profit warriors outclass local militaries, and a few can even stand up to America’s most elite forces, as the battle in Syria shows.

The Middle East is awash in mercenaries. Kurdistan is a haven for soldiers of fortune looking for work with the Kurdish militia, oil companies defending their oil fields, or those who want terrorists dead. Some are just adventure seekers, while others are American veterans who found civilian life meaningless.

A BBC report dated October 3, 2022, stated that the Wagner Group has recently been active in Ukraine, Syria and some African countries and it repeatedly been accused of war crimes and human rights abuses.

With this it is very obvious why the president must express worry. Primarily, operations of PMCs cannot be held on any country, and the membership of mercenary group is made up personnel from various countries.

Today mercenary activities are reported in West Africa nations like Mali, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

Secondly, no head of state can sit comfortably if military activities are going on along the borders of his country. Worse of all, when such activities are been conducted by private armies.

Thirdly, President Nana Akufo Addo’s views about Putin may not have gone down well with the Russian president and it could be possible that anyone close to the Russian leaderwill want to teach Ghana a lesson.

The Burkinabe government have every right to hire professionals to cull insurgences and rebel activities in that country. However, it would have been proper for that country to make sure that there is no spill-over into another country.

Ideally, it would have been diplomatically correct for Captain Ibrahim Traore to inform Nana Addo about what is going on in Burkina Faso, especially when this could come close to our borders.I believe this is what our president wanted to put across.

With this the Burkinabe government had expressed anger at President Akufo-Addo’s statement. Its foreign ministry said it had “expressed disapproval” about the statements made by the Ghanaian president, adding that “Ghana could have undertaken exchanges with the Burkinabe authorities on the security issue in order to have the right information.”

However, it did not confirm or deny the allegations. In a separate message to Reuters, the foreign ministry spokesperson said, without elaborating: “In any case, Burkina has not called on Wagner.” Here could it be possible there is a different mercenary group in Burkina Faso? Because to this day, the Burkinabe authorities have not commented publicly on whether or not they are working with Wagner, a mercenary group that was hired in neighbouring Mali to help fight Islamist militants.

In the midst of these exchanges, social media produced a video of a man, most likely a Burkinabe, who took it upon himself to address the issue. This man actually confirmed that a mercenary group is operating in Burkina Faso to help restore law and order by crushing the rebels.

There are things he added that one would not be wrong in concluding that he is adzimakpla. However, since we do not know the family, he comes from, we can rightly say then that he is a kplamase. In the noble Ewe language, a dzimakpla is someone who was reared and not brought up and a kplamaseis one who even though he or she comes from a good home and was given the best of good training, he or she is an addicted non-reformist, someone born to live a life in striking contrast to civility. No matter what is done to such people they will always walk the wrong path, celebrating their stupidity and waywardness with pomp and pageantry.

For the fact that we need to have respect for his family, who we do not know, we can just conclude that this man is a kplamase, because how could he speak in such foul and uncouth language about a president of a nation? I have some Burkinabe friends and I know them to be respectful and decentin the conduct of their lives. I therefore never expected a Burkinabe to talk and insult publicly, an elderly person, what more a president of a nation.

Every body is aware of the growth of terrorism in West Africa which should be a cause of great worry. Nigeria has its share with activities of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen and to date, this mighty African nation could not uproot this menace.

Stability in the region cannot be something to write home about and if complacency is allowed to set in, this region will be boiling up like a volcanic eruption.

Ghana cannot be said to be that stable nation what with the Fulani herdsmen doing what they know best, destroying our farms and raping our women. Most of our protracted chieftaincy and ethnic conflicts have not been resolved. Even with those resolved, were they resolved conclusively?How are we sure that ten, twenty, thirty years down the line, some group of people will not come back to start hostilities, because they feel cheated in a peace deal brokered decades ago?

The Bawku conflicts come and go. Here the problem is the Mamprusi who were given that part of Kusasi land and called the town Bawku which means, valley in the Mamprusi language, have resolved that they need to have a funeral for their late chief. And traditionally, they are right. Culture demands that there should be funeral for the late chief.And this same tradition, practised all over the country demands that it a new chief who must perform the funeral of his late predecessor. When this is done, Bawku will have two chiefs. And this will be a recipe for more chaos.Could it be that the Mamprusis should be allowed to enskin their Chief for Bawku, and that chief performs the funeral of the late chief and soon after he abdicates the skin? This will mean he and the people of Mamprusi should be heavily compensated.

We also have the Western-Togoland issue which has not been resolved and which need to be amicably done as quickly as yesterday. The Nkonya-Alavanyo conflict is not truly resolve and Ghana is sitting on a time-bomb with a little known conflict between the Osudokus and the Manya Krobos over the Akuse-Amedeka township.

Akuse was forcefully taken from the Osudokus by the British colonialists and given to the Krobos to administer. And even though Akuse is under the Lower Manya Municipal Assembly of the Eastern region, it is found within the Shai-Osudoku District Assembly of Greater Accra region. And the law says no district should fall in more than one region.

In any conflict area in Ghana, it will only take a rich indigene to employ the services of mercenaries to resolve the issue in his favour and Ghana will erupt into flames and carnage.

Our president, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed his opinion on this insecurity alone our northern borders and he is in no way wrong. Ghanaians should be seen supporting him.

Hon. Daniel Dugan

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