Dear Mr. President,
We often find ourselves on the same team – our love for Ghanaian Jollof, my belief in your vision to industrialize Ghana by instituting the 1D1F initiative, and your free Senior High School program (although I have my thoughts on implementation) amongst others. However, in the past few days, your silence on an issue that is shaking our beloved Nigeria and the world has left me at the crossroads. Nigerian youth have raised their voices in protest against the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who have brutalized, wounded and killed hundreds of young Nigerians. For what crimes? Holding iphones, driving nice cars, having locked hair and piercings- traits that will make many young members of your own family be subjected to these egregious acts of brutality. I am no expert on criminal law but I imagine that one does not deserve any form of brutalization on account of their possessions (once legal, of course), their appearance or their choice of locomotive agent. But apparently not in Nigeria.
Mr. President, you have opined, time and time again in very eloquent words that we, the youth, are the future of our nations yet when these same youth are being murdered at the hands of government-sanctioned authorities, it seems like the future and thus, the youth do not matter anymore. Your silence on this issue is deafening. Furthermore, apart from the geographical proximity of our countries, our shared history, numerous economic partnerships and mutual familial fondness is the reason why you should speak on this issue.
I acknowledge thus far all my reasons have appealed to pathos, which can be quite easily dismissed by self-centered and unfeeling individuals – a shocking number of the world’s population falling in this category but I believe you stand distinguished from the rest Mr. President. As a matter of duty, the august commission you lead – the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has not batted an eyelid over this issue even though enshrined within the principles of the commission is the “recognition, promotion, and protection of human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.” Are the brutalized, maimed, and slain of Nigeria not people whose rights need to be protected? Or would you have us rather believe that it was more important to assuage the needs of some badly-behaved boys wrangling over power in Mali than it is to care for the protection of young citizens – apologies, wrong word choice. If they were real citizens, they would not be treated like animals. I bet poodles and cocker spaniels in Switzerland get better treatment than the young people of Nigeria. Well, I digress.
The One District One Factory (1D1F) initiative is the vision of His Excellency the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to change the nature of Ghana’s economy from an import dependent economy to an export oriented economy which focuses on manufacturing, value addition and export of processed goods.The aim is to build one factory in each district.
Mr. President, in addition to your current role as the chair of ECOWAS, you are an accomplished human rights attorney, who “champion [sic] the cause of human rights” including “the right of the citizen to demonstrate without police permit,” therefore, I am perplexed at why you have not yet denounced the senseless violence by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad and called on your colleague, Mr. Buhari to do something about this. I hate to be the one to make comparisons but barely five months ago, after the killing of George Floyd (may his soul rest in peace), “at the president’s request, Mr. Floyd’s name had been permanently mounted on the wall of the Diaspora African Forum at the W.E.B. Du Bois Centre in Ghana’s capital, Accra.” You went on to declare that you were “shocked and distraught” and declared that “We stand with our kith and kin in America in these difficult and trying times.” However, it is heartbreaking to see that after weeks of protests, many senseless deaths and valiant cries for reform in Nigeria, you are tightlipped on the matter. Where is your “shock and distress?” Or are Nigerians no longer our “kith and kin?” When we cry “Black Lives Matter”, the Nigerian lives traumatized, brutalized and wasted by SARS are also included in that equation.
Mr. President, I am aware of the intricacies of diplomatic relations and the light-footedness with which you choose to approach issues for fear of damaging some key economic or political relationships. However, when have the people of Ghana, a beacon of hope and democracy in Africa, been afraid to call out injustice against others? There are only a few times in the life of a national leader that he or she has the chance to leave an indelible mark on a people. Fuel prices will constantly fluctuate and power outages will remain a feature of the Ghanaian energy landscape. Roads will still need fixing and schools will need to be built but the courage to speak up against injustice is one of the most defining qualities of true leadership.
Finally, in the proper fashion of Ghanaian argumentation, without which no presentation is complete, I invoke the words of our great ancestor Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah as an offering to you, Mr. President. He aptly declared, “our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.”
I pray that you do not render our independence meaningless by your silence.
(A concerned citizen)
This letter was published without editing