I was shocked to learn recently that in 200 hundred years of independence from France, not a single president of Haiti has been allowed to complete his term of office. There have been thirty coup d'etats in Haiti since independence. This means that a coup has occurred every six or seven years. The political instability in Haiti has resulted in deteriorating economic conditions on the Caribbean island up to now.
I pondered for a while and decided to count the number of coups in Ghana since independence in 1957. The first successful which coup led to the overthrow of Nkrumah, was on February 24, 1966 followed by another which led to the overthrow of Busia's government in 1972. The next coup led to the overthrow of Kutu Acheampong by his own group(palace coup) within the SMC(Supreme military council). SMC II led by General Akufo was subsequently overthrown in 1979. Then came the return to civilian rule led by Hilla Limann. That experience in democratic governance did not last long, and the regime was overthrown on December 31, 1981 by Jerry Rawlings. The Rawlings dictatorship(part military, part civilian rule) lasted almost twenty years. Ghana has had five successful coups in forty seven years of independence. This comes to an average of one coup every nine or ten years. This did not include the many failed and countless attempted coups over the years.
The big question is this: how can Ghana protect her independence from greedy and aimless soldiers and others who seek power for themselves and their cronies at the expense of unarmed Ghanaians. The experience with military rule is that in all cases, those who usurp power by force turn out to be more corrupt and incompetent than the civilian governments they overthrew. The selfish motives of coup leaders in Ghana was clearly illustrated by the first speech given by Acheampong. In his maiden speech to the people of Ghana, Acheampong stated that the few amenities the armed forces were enjoying had been taken away from them. Disgrunted Ghanaians and many members of the political opposition as well as average Ghanaians flocked to the streets of the major towns and cities to demonstrate in support of the coup. What a SHAME!
I have proposed in the past that anybody or group who overthrows a freely elected government of the Republic of Ghana should be challenged to ensure that the new junta is not allowed to rule freely. I proposed the formation of the Peoples Armed Civil Militia (PACM). The membership would be open to all Ghanaians, twenty-five years and older. The Militia would be non partisan with the sole purpose of protecting Ghana's independence from disgruntled and mischievous soldiers who overthrow any freely elected government of the Republic. Members of the militia should be willing to die and sacrifice themselves in the service of protecting our hard won freedom from thugs and pseudo revolutionaries of recent past. Militia members should be ready and prepared to become martyrs. Martyrdom would be the reward for their ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom of the Republic. The militia would be akin to the Resistance in France whose members fought against German occupation during the Second World War. A page is taken from revolutionary history in America where Patrick Henry declared, “give me liberty or give me death.” This would be the proposed motto of the Peoples Militia. We as concerned Ghanaians won't stand idle by for another group of soldiers to take away our independence, freedom and justice from us without a fight. Of course, we cannot win a conventional fight against the Ghana armed forces but we can as a group acting individually sabotage and derail their plans to establish themselves. We won't acquiesce to promulgations of military rule without a fight. First, the militia is not interested in a civil war but we would achieve our goal by engaging in civil sabotage directed mainly against the military, their equipment and personnel anywhere we would find them in the country. For example, this means that members of the militia who are engineers would be required to risk their lives to sabotage the electric lines, water pipes and equipments going to all military bases especially within the Accra metro region including Tema. We would make it unsafe for members of the new junta and its supporters to roam freely around any town in the country. The “cowards” who prey on unarmed civilians in Ghana with impunity would be severely tested in the streets of the capital and elsewhere. The militia won't obey or respect any curfew imposed by the “bastards” and would strongly urge the population to do the same.
We would cause damage to their trucks, cars, other equipment and disarm them whenever possible. We would even take some of the soldiers hostage and convince them to join our cause if possible. We would prevail upon civil society and international organizations such as the UN, ECOWAS and others not to recognize the new bad boys. Ghanaians should be educated not to support the overthrow of any constitutionally elected government no matter how bad and or corrupt the government may be perceived to be. Members of the judiciary should also refuse to swear anybody in as president or political leader of the country who was not elected by majority of the people of Ghana. A precedent must be set and the old saying that “fama Nyame, Nyame de me mere b3ba, enye hwee, me mp3 me ho asem, etc ” (don't worry about it, give everything to God, I don't want trouble, etc) and all the other useless sayings which have prevented Ghanaians from asserting themselves in the face of extreme adversity and brutality as well as the survival of our freedoms must be discarded once and for all for the good and independence of our Republic.
A friend asked me how feasible is my solution to prevent coups in Ghana? I told him plainly that the militia can't prevent coups but would make it very hard for any junta to establish its ascendancy in the country. In other words, the militia would fight any group of people who overthrow the government of the Republic of Ghana by force of arms. My proposal of the PACM seems too radical but I can bet that it is not too far fetched. Ghanaians have been brutalized and traumatized for far too long by soldiers and their cronies who seize power for themselves and are accountable to nobody. One may argue that a coup cannot happen in Ghana today and that the PACM is not needed because there is the Ghana armed forces and other security agents in the country to protect us. Yes, the armed forces are there to supposedly protect and defend the constitution but they have never done so since independence. Any time a coup had occurred, some members of the armed forces and commanders of the police have joined together to control and rule the affairs of the state to the detriment of the citizens. In my view, the Ghana armed forces cannot be fully trusted to protect or defend the Republic. After all, a few elements within the armed forces are the biggest threat to internal security in the country. Since any government of the day cannot dismiss a member of the force without cause, it is incumbent upon the citizens to challenge anybody who overthrows the government of the day by force of arms. Please don't tell me that a coup cannot happen in Ghana. I am not praying for one but we want to put future coup plotters on notice that we the tortured Ghanaians are not stupid enough to swallow anymore of their false pretense of liberation and prosperity. We are simply tired of their incompetence and abuse of power and peoples rights in their rush to rule ruthlessly over the people without a mandate from the people.
Many people in mostly academic circles have suggested that instead of an armed conflict against the military in case of a coup, the people should engage only in civil disobedience to force the military back to the barracks. I fully support such an approach but I am afraid that civil disobedience alone is not enough. The junta should be challenged by force of arms to ensure that it does not easily succeed in establishing itself in power. History also shows that civil disobedience has succeeded only in cases where some members of the armed forces refused to protect the civilian government. The recent overthrow of Eduard Schervanatse in Georgia is an example. The military did not obey the president's orders and that allowed the protestors to freely invade the government offices and drive the corrupt officials out of office. Throughout Africa, corrupt civilian and military governments have been driven from power not through civil protests but rather by armed civilians and warlords. The case of Charles Taylor of Liberia and Mobutu Sese Seku of Zaire( Democratic Republic of the Congo) are classic examples. Both were forced out of power not by civil protests but by an armed insurrection led by warlords. Africans are often united not by ideology but on tribal affiliation and that makes it difficult to get majority of the people in a country to unite to fight a common dictator. Almost everybody within a country under dictatorship may be suffering but very few have the guts to stand up and challenge the status quo. We in the proposed People's Armed Civil Militia would be willing to die to protect our independence. If individual Ghanaians can apply for permits to carry a gun, members of the militia who are also Ghanaians can apply for permission to do the same.
I know my proposal may be provocative and controversial, it is nevertheless what is needed to put the “Abokyi boys” on notice that we have had enough of their nonsense and foolishness and that we as determined Ghanaians would never again sit idle by and allow Ghana to become another Haiti where no president has been allowed to complete his term of office in a period of two hundred years. Five coups in forty-seven years of independence are too much for Ghana. Coups have retarded our economic and political development and growth and we in the proposed Peoples Armed Civil Militia want to put an end to it. Kwabena Osei-Dadzie, Burlington, NC USA Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.