Former Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, has urged the country not to commit troops to the West African Standing Force to fight the military junta in Niger.
The ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of the Defence Staff indicated its readiness to deploy the standby force to intervene in Niger at a recent extraordinary two-day meeting in Accra, but is awaiting authorization from the sub-region’s bloc heads.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the launch of his book titled “The Pen At Risk, Spilling My Little Beans”, Professor Yankah urged the military to focus on pressing internal issues like illegal mining, also known as “galamsey”.
“Let anybody undertake research into the volume of arms in the forest as we speak, controlled by the galamsey people. Nobody has even touched the tip of the iceberg aspect. There’s a huge war and there can be an intrusion within the country at any time. I think maybe we should pay attention to the untouched issue of ‘galamsey’, which clearly demonstrates how powerless we are as a nation. If we cannot overcome galamsey, and I’m not saying that we can do it only with moral suasion, it’s a combination of moral suasion and physical action.”
“Defend the integrity of our forest and natural resources. Because that is what we sit on, there is so much poverty, but there are resources beneath us that are controlled by just a few. Let’s liberate the resources and let people realise that we have soldiers, let them first deal with the galamsey within our territorial boundaries before they even venture outside”.
Professor Yankah also urged citizens to continue to use democratic means to change governments, rather than military intervention.
“We shouldn’t allow military regimes or soldiers to interfere in the affairs of civilian rule when we know that there is a cycle of elections that we can benefit from. After every four years, any government that is not helping responsibly can be taken out through the ballot and not through the gun. That is what we have learned. But these are times when civilian governments, many of whom are misbehaving, could be much worse than even military regimes.”
“When they come and they are misbehaving, let us find solutions to the issues that have emerged. If it’s corruption, let’s not deal with corruption through the gun, but through the ballot box. Late President Jerry John Rawlings came, it didn’t stop corruption. It got worse. We only tried to cover it up. So we have to still stick to the civilian regime and find ways of getting rid of bad governments that we don’t agree with.”
The government has been heavily criticized in recent times for failing to fight corruption as promised.