When the President-to-be was touring North America asking for our moral and financial support, the most frequently asked question was, “What will your Government do to forestall a coup?” He magnanimously assured us that he was keenly aware of the propensity for coups. He told us his party had strategies in place to prevent coups. However, for security reasons, he would not elaborate, in public, his administration’s plans to rid the country of coups or to nib potential coups in the bud. I had almost forgotten about the infamous word, “coup” but for the attempt in Haiti against President Aristide’s Government. It just reminded me, and hopefully President Kufuor, of that constant danger looming over our heads. The NPP Government should not rest on its laurels. They should not be complacent. They should not ever believe that it cannot happen. Coup makers are like thieves who sneak in while you are away or asleep. We must be constantly awake and be aware that they can strike any day, any time. The country cannot afford another blow against its young democratic institutions and the rather unstable economy that is just beginning to show signs of recovery. It is easy to forget that the four-letter dirty word even exists. Some of us think that it is an anathema to even mention that word. However, history should teach us better.
Our first real attempt at democracy was derailed when Acheampong toppled Busia’s Government barely two years into his administration. By all standards, Busia’s Government was doing fine and did not deserve to be overthrown. The second attempt was also derailed barely two years after President Linman was sworn in. While a few people in his administration were misbehaving, I cannot in earnest say that his Government deserved to be overthrown, either.
On the eve of the end of President Kufuor’s first year in office and the beginning of his second year, we must all be on our toes and be keenly conscious of the danger of a coup or a possible attempt by some disgruntled elements within us who may want to throw away the good of Ghana for their own selfish ends. Even a failed attempt will send an irreversibly damaging signal to our benefactors and economic allies. We have to impress upon the people that even an unsuccessful attempt at a coup in Ghana will set the country back another fifty years.
Coups are generally conceived, planned and executed by people who either see no other legitimate means of ever ascending to political power or by those who believe they have a better and quicker way to bring progress to the people. In either case, history has taught us that no one can rush a turtle. We cannot rush Ghana any faster than it is prepared to move. No matter how well-meaning they may be, coup makers have not positively affected the well-being of the average Ghanaian in any material way.
May I take this opportunity to suggest that the public is invited by radio and TV stations to debate and discuss coups to mark Kufuor’s first year in office. We must openly discuss all the various coups in our history, why they came about, the impact they have had on our economy and what we have to do to prevent any coups in the future. All the various institutions, the politicians, the military, students, farmers and all stakeholders must take part in this exercise. After the exercise, all Ghanaians must go on a peaceful march against coups to fore warn any people who may be hatching one to shelf it permanently.
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