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Indonesia Executions: Lesson for Ghana

As the seconds ticked down to midnight of 28th April, 2015, two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian, and one Indonesian were holstered together on Nusakambangan Island. But what is this ‘united nations’ of people for? The Indonesian justice apparatus has found them guilty of drug smuggling and possession. Reportedly, they sang their last words in the fashion of “Amazing Grace” as the gun-wielders geared up to end their lives. Indeed, they are all dead now.

As the seconds ticked down to midnight of 28th April, 2015, two Australians, four Nigerians, a Brazilian, and one Indonesian were holstered together on Nusakambangan Island. But what is this ‘united nations’ of people for? The Indonesian justice apparatus has found them guilty of drug smuggling and possession. Reportedly, they sang their last words in the fashion of “Amazing Grace” as the gun-wielders geared up to end their lives. Indeed, they are all dead now.

In the run up to the execution, sporadic calls from every sector of the world for Indonesia to show clemency were rife but alas, they fell on hard-heartedness as Indonesian President Joko Widodo insisted on the death penalty. The Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbot has posited that the two Australians who were members of the notorious Bali 9 had been rehabilitated while spending 10 years in prison and therefore the death penalty was unnecessary. The United Nations also appealed to Indonesia but President Joko Widodo enthusiastically insisted on the death penalty.

All the eight dead prisoners had individually spent over a decade in prison but to attorney general Prasetyo and President Joko Widodo, that was not enough – they had to pay the ultimate price. Against the odds such as soiling diplomatic relations with Australian, Brazil and Nigeria, ‘losing face’ in a religious and moral world, and perhaps personal difficulties, President Joko Widodo nodded for the execution to go on.

Is President Joko Widodo so inhumane, otherwise why?

According to statistics churned out by the National Narcotics Agency of Indonesia, between 40 and 50 people die every day from illicit drug causes – not to talk of the vast collateral damages brought on by drug use. As a result the government launched a brute and relentless fight against the smuggling, use and possession of drugs in Indonesia. Nonetheless, the menace still lurks in the streets of Jakarta and other cities.
Feeling helpless, Widodo and his advisors believe and indeed contend that the best way is to show to the world and warn potential smugglers or culprits that Indonesia is a ‘forbidden territory’ for such activity. That and that alone was the rationale behind the executions – to serve as a frightful deterrence to potential perpetrators. Now let’s see who dares to attempt to smuggle drugs into Indonesia.

Using the harshest punishment to deter people from corruption is what we need here in Ghana and Africa at large. In Ghana, it would seem that the laws on corruption are shelved, not enforced when the culprit is politically well connected. And because of the partisan nature of our politics and the impulsive need of members of the same party to cover-up for each other corruption especially graft is being perpetrated with cockiness and impunity.

In Ghana, money is not the only thing we lack; we also lack patriotism in our leaders.  Our leaders in whom we put our trust and hopes lack conviction and perhaps vision and seem to be mere puppets of partisan fetters; shackled by their personal interests and as such become so fruitless and apathetic to the needs of the people.
Due to the assiduous and painstaking work of journalists and some statesmen, a few high-profile corruption cases have seen the light of day but what has become of them? Individuals accused of stealing millions of dollars are still enjoying their lives because of prolonged court trials, some cases have been running for years – is this deliberate? Where’s the political will? Where’s the commitment to fight corruption? Where’s our leaders’ patriotism? Where’s the motivation for whistle-blowing?

The Supreme Court after careful consideration of the evidences including the classified ones in one of the cases came to a ruling which depicted that state actors and contractors had colluded, looted and shared state monies. This is repugnant but where’s the leadership zeal to fight it? It is sad to discuss your country in this context but the truth has to be told.
When it comes to the discussion about corruption, our leaders cloak themselves in country colours in front row seats – giving us nothing but rhetoric and ostentatious pronouncements. Can our leaders hold the bull by the horn? Can they hold on to a conviction so strong like Indonesian President Joko Widodo and insist on the harshest punishment to deter others without recourse to the machination and influence of their political party? Can they? Of course they can IF they are not corrupt themselves.

Being the Editor for ALLGHANANEWS.com, every morning, I sift through hundreds of news articles, in the crime section; I can’t always help but frown at the frequency of harsh prison sentences for minor offences, such as stealing of foodstuffs. The alacrity with which the poor man’s case is trialed in court is quite amazing whiles the real nation wreckers buy their freedom. It is now a known fact that if Ghana were to retain only 10% of what it loses through revenue leakages resulting from corruption, it will not need the IMF or the World Bank.

Ghana needs strong leaders who will not be influenced by partisanship. Ghana needs someone who will take the fight against corruption to a higher level – to deploy severe and harsh punishment to serve as deterrence. Unfortunately such a person cannot be found in the current regime of party politics.

God Bless Our Homeland Ghana!

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