Ghana Customs at Kotoka International Airport

Ghana Customs at Kotoka International Airport

In the previous post I quoted the announcement of an agreement between Ghana’s NACOB and AFRICOM:

US, NACOB Sign MOU On Counter-Narcotics

The United States Government and the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to create a facility within the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) to support counter-narcotics activities.

Both governments – Ghana and the US – have agreed to build a 75,000-dollar climate-controlled facility to house drug detection equipment and personnel at the KIA to enhance processing of narcotic suspects.

The project is a joint effort between the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the US Embassy in Accra and the NACOB. The facility, when completed and fully operational is expected to amplify the ability of the NACOB and its partners to detect narcotics traffickers.

Ghana has good and dedicated police. But they are not paid adequately to do the job of everyday policing, much less counter the influx of drugs and drug dealers from Latin America.

Dedication, commitment can win war on drugs – Addo-Kufuor
Accra, July 21, GNA – Interior Minister, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor Monday said Ghana’s campaign against the narcotics trade could be won “if we remain committed and dedicated to weeding out this potential nation wrecker”.

Dr Addo-Kufuor said government had put in place structures to strengthen these agencies, including the NACOB, and was collaborating with major international players to ensure that they were well trained and resourced to make them effective and efficient in managing the problem.

He said government was adept with the challenges of NACOB, including low staff salaries, inadequate budgetary allocation, inappropriate equipment, enhanced staff training among others and was taking steps to address them.

The Minister said there was the need for a review of the law establishing NACOB to enable it to function effectively to meet international standards on laws governing narcotics and psychotropic substances.

Note the line about collaborating with major international players. This was two weeks before the announcement of the MOU with AFRICOM. This worries me, as these sorts of agreements have been a tool the US has used to interfere with sovereign governments in the past, especially in Latin America. Ghana has a presidential election this year. There are already plenty of accusations and evidence of various illegal and unethical activities, including a lot of reports of the NPP padding the voter rolls. There are also a lot of reports of top NPP people involved in the drug trade, including rumors about their presidential candidate being an addict and a drug baron. However, the Bush administration seems to like dealing with Kufuor and his cronies, and Bush preferences and corporate welfare policies generally trump legality and ethics.

Ghana could do a great deal more if it paid and trained the police and other government employees well, or even adequately. It would need a lot less outside “assistance” if it paid and trained well. A couple of comments on the article went to the heart of the matter.

Author: Kwasi, UK: The drug trade is 500 billion industry.It comes after the oil business.Ghana or Ghanaians are target b/co they are vulnerable and nice people as well. What I mean is that Ghana economy is weak so the drug dealers can penetrate by a little bribe. Just imagine a police commander in-charge of a barracks taking $350.00 per month. Can such a person resist the drug dealers when he has school bills to settle? I met a young Policewoman who told me that she does not have a TV. Her monthly salary is around $70.00. It’s a said story, isn’t it? Can such a constable resist the drug dealers when they offer her $2,000.00 bribe for them to enter or cross the Ghanaian border?

Author: Godsway: I ask, will dedication and commitment put food on the officer’s table. An officer at NACOB receives between 90-180 ghana cedis a month. How can he survive on this tiny skeletal meagre token to fight the drug war? Officers are neither security officers nor civil/public servants. They have not received any salary increment for the past ten years. At least, the Minister should make an attempt to place them on the right scale to receive the right remunerationfor their work.

Addo-Kufuor’s remark about reviewing the law also makes me nervous. Will that be like the recent “reviews” in US law, such as the Patriot Act, that have gotten rid of those pesky human rights protections, the rule of law, and other democratic practices? Will the law establishing NACOB have to be revised to fit a military style of governing, consistent with AFRICOM?

The US War on Drugs has been a failure for at least half a century. It started long before Nixon, as the article indicates. You can read a history of it here: How America Lost the War on Drugs.

… the catastrophe along the [Mexican] border looks like a final reckoning for overseas interdiction. ” It’s like a balloon effect – we’ve never succeeded in cutting off the traffic, we’ve just pushed it around,”

Thirty-five years after Richard Nixon launched the War on Drugs, the most promising ­programs continue to be shunted aside by Washington’s unswerving emphasis on law and order.

Who else will the US be pushing around with AFRICOM in Ghana, and Ghana entering the oil business?