Tolerance is an acknowledgement, appreciation and acceptance of human diversity. Tolerance is thus the vehicle that drives peace and harmonious living. It can therefore not only be a cherished principle but also a virtue and necessity for peace, cohesion, economic and socio-cultural advancement peoples and nations. It has always been said that there cannot be any meaningful development in the absence of peace. That is why as a nation, we need to jealously guard our peace and unity. For many years, Ghana has been an island of peace in a sub region best noted for conflicts and civil strifes mainly resulting from disputed elections as well as cultural and religious differences. These can be attributed to lack of tolerance among the people. There are more than fifty language and ethnic groups, several religious and political groupings and many other diversities in Ghana, yet we have lived and continue to live in harmony to a large extent for all these years, despite occasional disturbances.
The greatest source of worry has been chieftaincy and land disputes, some of which have resulted in bloody confrontations, leading to the loss of precious lives, in addition to the economic burden in maintaining peace in those areas. But of late, politically motivated violent crimes have been rearing their ugly heads in this country. These have become more pronounced especially as the elections inch closer. The recent happenings at Odododiodio and the Nima residence of NPP Flagbearer, Nana Akufo Addo are most regrettable. They show a gradual creeping in of a culture of intolerance. It is unacceptable that a simple democratic exercise should degenerate into violence and chaos. Ghana has long passed that stage and should be rubbing shoulders with established democracies like US, UK and France. The concept of multi-party democracy is a contest of ideas and ideologies where different political parties work and manage the affairs of the state for the wellbeing and interest of the people. Over the years, crimes committed in the name of politics are swept under carpet. We have seen such incidences during the limited voter registration, exhibition and vote transfer exercises. This campaign period is also witnessing same. In order to safeguard the peace and security of this nation, the police must speedily investigate all such cases and swiftly bring all perpetrators to justice. The era where crimes committed in the name of politics go unpunished must be a thing of the past. It emboldens and gives confidence to others to engage in crime.
Going forward, the Ghana Police Service must be more proactive and take preemptive measures to forestall such occurrences. This is more important because if such a nasty incident could occur at the residence of the NPP flagbearer, which is just opposite the Nima police station, it suggests a major lapse on the part of the police, for which reason they need to sit up. All said and done, politicians and other influential people must also give the police a free hand to operate and stop unnecessarily interfering in their work. Political leaders must equally demonstrate exemplary leadership by asserting positive political authority and values over supporters. They should impress on their followers to shun violence and openly condemn those who engage in violence and must be willing to give them up for prosecution when need be.
As the world marked another International Tolerance Day, Ghanaians should agree to tolerate divergent views and live in harmony with each other. The practice of tolerance does not mean accepting social injustice or abandonment of one's convictions and beliefs but rather adherence to personal convictions and at the same time giving others the chance to adhere to theirs. That means a no to the imposition of one's views on others. We must show tolerance and appreciation for the fundamental human rights of others even as we all enjoy our individual rights as citizens and residents of Ghana. We must respect the rights of minority, marginalised, vulnerable and excluded groups at all times. We should not engage in any activity that has the potential to bring civil unrest or disrupt the peace of the country.
Article 41 clause 1c of the 1992 constitution enjoins all citizens to live in harmony with each other and and foster national unity. That should be our guiding principle as we go to the polls come December 7. It is our individual and collective responsibility to ensure that peace prevails in the country before, during and after the election. This is the only way we can consolidate the gains made so far in our democratic journey.
BY BUBU KLINOGO, GBC.