Yesterday, the Greater Accra Regional Police, in an official statement, denied the convenors of the ‘Fix The Country’ demonstration the green light to proceed with their intended action.
In denying the group the permission, the Police administration cited the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that safety protocols may be undermined since enforcement among an anticipated large crowd could be tricky and overwhelming.
But, in a reaction, the convenors argued that while it may be true that COVID-19 is still a threat, they had already indicated to police that they were going to put in place measures to manage the situation.
Demonstrations, the world over, even in Russia of yore, are tools for the oppressed, vulnerable, disadvantaged communities to speak and be recognised. And it is true that, even in our Ghanaian colonial history, activists used it for national profit.
But what we all, including the organisers, agree is that we have a COVID-19 situation on our hands that we need to manage and manage well, without any attempt to make capital out of it.
We also believe that the organisers admit that enforcing COVID-19 protocols has, since the outbreak of the pandemic, been a multi-sectoral responsibility, comprising the Ministry of Health (MoH), Ghana Health Services (GHS), the Ghana Police Service, the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) as well as the masses that the convenors intend to churn out onto the streets.
In the opinion of the convenors, should the police be putting together all of these stakeholders on the streets on May 9 just for the benefit of the protesters?
That, in our opinion, would be as ridiculous as the recent drama of an election petitioner going to court, flanked by a team of professional lawyers, to claim victory without putting together his pink sheets.
Of course, we have ‘galamsey’ on our hands as a national canker that we need to fight collectively. This is a canker that we collectively ignored and bred till it began overwhelming us.
In that case, we believe the answer is not latching onto that national sin and other developmental challenges to scoop political points. In any event, the government, in exercising its mandate, has decided to take the bull by the horns.
Of course, we may criticise the strategies being used to fight the menace and suggest alternatives. Or we may protest quietly, without adding to the COVID-19 threats.
In all fairness, we believe the decision by the convenors to foist this on us at this time is only ‘wicked and mischievous’.
In fact, no well-meaning Ghanaian would say there are no genuine concerns among the masses that need to be addressed with a sense of urgency, as it has always been the case over the years.
At the same time, it is also instructive to bring to the fore that the current government is making the efforts in tackling these concerns. The task certainly can’t be easy, especially in this Covid era where even the advanced and developed countries are struggling to maintain their citizenry.
That is why all of us should see ourselves as worthy partners in the effort to fix the challenges that confront us. And as we seek to put pressure on our elected leaders to act fast, we believe it would not be prudent to take actions that will only add on to our woes. That is why we believe a demonstration involving the masses in this Covid era is ill-timed, no matter how good the intentions may be.