By Abdul Razak Bawa
In August 1990, in an attempt to end the bloody civil war in the West Africa country of Liberia, the regional block; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) made an unprecedented move by sending 3000 ECOMOG contingent drawn from Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Guinea.
These men in uniform, who had no idea what was awaiting them in a country ravaged by war, had to place their trust and lives in the hands of one man.
A man who has famously come to be known as Buffalo Soldier led these contingent into a war zone, because on the day they arrived in Monrovia, the town was already in flames.
As a country, we should take pride in the fact that the leader of the ECOMOC contingent was a Ghanaian, who had distinguished himself and have had a startling career.
Today Liberians are grateful not only to the leaders who took that decision, but the man who brought peace to a country, which was hotbed of violence. He was a major stabilising factor that pulled the country from the brink.
Liberians will not forget in a hurry for the role he played in bringing peace and stability to that country.
General Arnold Quainoo, was the man, who led the contingent from the front, he did not hesitate when the responsibility fell on him to do God’s work; to rescue a people, who have not known peace for a long time, because of the selfish interest of those who wish to lead them.
The success story of Liberia, will not be complete, until the mention of that singularly act of bravery by our Men and Women in uniform, led by a man who has had an exemplary career in the Ghana Armed Forces.
Today, ECOWAS is faced with a similar circumstance in Niger and already the regional leaders are considering sending troops to the country to restore the ousted leader, Mohamed Basom.
The circumstances of 1990 are different from today and so a lot of people are against any military intervention in Niger.
The reason most of the people who are opposed to the war is that, war do not usually go according to plan as they don’t achieve the desired political or economic outcomes.
A war is like a closed keg of gun powder. Don’t open it unless you must because if you do, the powder spills and everybody gets some drops on their bodies.
There is never a winner in a war, as all gladiators will at the end of the day, count their losses no matter how minimal. At the end of a war, all gladiators fall on the losing side.
ECOWAS leaders must be reminded that, when you pray for rain, you have to deal with the mud too, i.e. they should be ready to deal with the humanitarian crisis that will arise out of the military intervention.
Theodore Roosevelt, America’s 26th president, famously advised leaders to “speak softly and carry a big stick”, West African leaders are trying swap noise for stick.
West Africa is facing very threatening insecurity problems, but the efforts to seek solutions to these problems may be compounded with the decision of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to send troops to Niger to restore the ousted leader to power.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who has been in the forefront of the restoration of multi-party democracy in this country, has not hidden his disdain towards the military interfering in democratic process.
President Akufo-Addo and President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, are committed to restoring the ousted democratically elected leader of Niger, after the Junta in a coup ceased power.
They are several solutions on the table, but the one on the lips of our leaders, which has been echoed by their representatives, is a military intervention.
Ghana and President Akufo-Addo, is blessed to have General Arnold Quainoo around. He is the one who led a similar intervention in Liberia, and his first hand experience is invaluable at this time.
The intervention in Liberia, that thrust him on the national stage, where he has continued to shine like a thousand stars.
Experienced it is said is the best teacher, for someone, who has literally been to hell and back is the best person to advice our President and if possible the ECOWAS leaders on the ramifications of their intended intervention in Niger.
Coups are not an ideal option anywhere; democracy has proven to be the best form of government, but as our elders say, there is no smoke without fire. The causes of Coup D’états are documented and well known, unfortunately, African leaders ignore the concerns of their citizens, some of them prefer to perpetuate themselves in office, even where they the Constitution spells out term limits.
ECOWAS leaders, whiles considering the option of military intervention, must also remind themselves of their mandate to their people. They can’t continue living large, while their people wallow in poverty.
President Akufo-Addo, should have met with former Generals of the Ghana Armed Forces, especially General Arnold Quainoo, because he was in Liberia and has a firsthand experience about how it is to send the army to a volatile situation that could explode at anytime.
As a show of good faith, he should have been part of the delegation to Niger to meet the Junta leaders to negotiate a way out of the situation, because they will be dealing with one of their own.
In the words of Woodrow Wilson: “there is no higher religion than human service and to work for the common good is the greatest creed.” General Arnold Quainoo, has throughout his career, worked for the common good of the people of this country. He has always responded to the call of duty to serve his country and I am sure he will not hesitate to advice the president, should he call upon him.
When President John Evans Atta Mills, was confronted with the Ivory Coast crisis, he sought the advice of former leaders, who served the Ghana Armed Forces at the highest level, the people included General Arnold Quainoo, General Nunoo Mensah, President Jerry John Rawlings, among others, it was from this meeting that came his famous “Dzi Wo Fie Asem” quote, to wit mind your business.
General Arnold Quainoo is retired but not tired to serve his country, because he is a patriot.