Wednesday, June 22, 2016

PEACE OR CONFLICT? What the Nation Stands To Gain

I could have never imagined a very good relationship going sour but that was the story of my childhood friendship. Yusuf and I became sworn enemies rather than the hearty cheerful best friends and buddies as we were known. This day has become one of my worst memories as it has left me with a permanent scar on my right arm. It started as one of our numerous playful sessions together; but my best friend was holding a razor blade hidden in his hand as he ran towards me. I tried to catch him and I felt pain on my arm and then blood. What made it worse was the fact that he intentionally did that as a pay-back for me telling on him to his parents. I was sent to the hospital for stitches and since then the good times we had together have never existed. He refused to apologize and to date we have not found a good way of resolving that childhood misunderstanding. While being a small example of what a little misunderstanding or quarrel or dispute can lead to, this cost me a dear relationship because I was bent on not forgiving him until he sincerely apologized.

Conflicts usually occur primarily as a result of a clash of interest between parties, groups or states, either because of opposing or incompatible goals. To some extent, society cannot be without conflict but if it is not managed well it can lead to more permanent damage. One major cause of conflict that dominates in most African and other countries has to do with politics, also known as power struggle.
The Dalai Lama once said, ‘Life is dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fear pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.’ Since conflict is inevitable, one big question is; how would it affect our economy? How do we manage the consequences?

Let’s cast our minds back to the second Liberian civil war of 1999, when a rebel group – Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy – emerged in the North of the country. They attacked the town, Voinjama, effectively triggering a second civil war. The government led by Charles Taylor was unable to hold back the rebels and by 2003 Taylor controlled less than a third of the country as yet another rebel group – the Movement for Democracy in Liberia – gained ground.
Today, the question is what effect has that war had on the economy? According to UNDP estimates, the conflict left 250,000 dead and saw majority of the population flee to neighbouring countries. There is evidence that about 51% of Liberians are under 18 years old and many are now orphans.
The country’s economy was left in ruins; basic infrastructure and services needed for a comfortable existence are lacking. Malnutrition affects about 40% of children under 5 years and Liberia languishes near the bottom of most indicators on the UN human development index.

Nigeria is another country suffering from insurgent group – Boko Haram. Agriculture accounts for roughly a fifth of the nation’s GDP and employs more than 35% of youth aged 18-35 years but is starting to show strains. This is a direct consequence of people who have fled due to fear of attacks by insurgents.
This means that a country such as Ghana with its history of peace in a troubled region is a good foundation for development and economic growth. It’s because of its peaceful history that the ICS programme is still running in Ghana. The programme has stopped in some countries such as Palestine and Burkina Faso due to conflicts. Without peace the partnership between International Service and TradeAID project would have also been stopped, and neither the craft people nor the youth of Ghana and the UK would have access to its multitude of benefits.

Consequently, it is vital for Ghanaians to maintain and preach PEACE, especially as it is an election year. Let’s all be reminiscent of the Ghana’s National Anthem: “Bold to Defend Forever, the Course of Freedom and of Right.” It is a duty; it is our duty for the well-being of our Nation.  

Your blogger today is Haruna Mohammed Fuseini
Photo Credit: Internet

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