I HAD wanted to blame President Mills' speechwriter when he delivered his first State of the Nation Address on the floor of Parliament. But upon a second thought, I decided to spare the gentleman the embarrassment because after all, the good old professor was simply glossing over the prepared speech instead of reading it.
He wanted to act like his political mentor, Mr. Rawlings, who always delivered such speeches extempore. I also took into cognizance the fact that the professor had problems with his eyesight.
I do not want to delve into the whole speech because there is nothing different between the speech and what is contained in the NDC manifesto which I have read extensively.
It was all promises, promises and promises. Let us set aside for the moment the jokes or 'concert' which accompanied his speech.
In fact we must forget the constant drinking of 'Joshua Water' and focus instead on how the good old professor who is supposed to know better treated the late Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia and Dr. Hilla Limann. Or maybe he did so because the founder of his party, ex-President Rawlings was around and listening to the speech?
Getting to the end of his address, Professor Mills saw it fit to pay compliments to the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, ex-Presidents Rawlings and Kufuor, but sadly did not find it fit to mention the names of the late Prime Minister of Ghana, Professor Busia and the late President Dr. Limann. That was where I had problems with him.
When the late President Nkrumah held the country in bondage through the introduction of the Preventive Detention Act, it was Busia, a dyed-in-the-wool democrat who took him on at the peril of his life.
In the face of a brutal dictator like Dr. Nkrumah, the fearless Busia carried the sad story of Ghana to the outside world and had to run into exile to escape unlawful imprisonment in a dungeon.
Those were the bad days when that repression-happy regime was on the prowl for abrasive critics like Busia. Whereas people were calling for violence to cut the tail of the dictator called Nkrumah, Dr. Busia insisted on dialogue. If there is any Ghanaian who deserves to be thanked for bringing us out of the woods, that person is Dr. Busia.
Dr. Busia also stood for election as the candidate for the Progress Party in the 1969 election and won. In less than two years, this meek and mild professor, who would never hurt a fly, ruled this country with the fear of God.
Even when a student (was it P.V. Obeng?) accosted him near the then University of Science and Technology in Kumsai and rained insults on him, he only smiled and asked his driver to drive on.
Busia's government embarked on massive rural development projects by constructing feeder roads, rural clinics, schools and small industries. There are so many feeder roads in this country which were constructed by Busia's government in the relatively short period of less than two years that he ruled the nation.
That was why he was affectionately called “Kofi Ayiakwan”. (Kofi the road builder). Professor Mills cannot tell me that he was not aware of the exploits of the fine gentleman and academician. And yet there he stood on that day, feigning ignorance of the role Busia played in bringing the nation this far. Good Lord, politics has gone sour and tasteless.
Dr. Hilla Limann was relatively unknown in the Ghanaian political landscape when he was introduced as the flagbearer of the People's National Party in 1979.
If there was any dead or living Head of State who can be truly referred to as a “national” president of Ghana, that person was Dr. Limann. During the 1979 general elections and the subsequent run-off, Dr. Limann enjoyed the support of every region in Ghana.
It was not like what we are seeing today, where the NDC and NPP have their so-called “world banks”. From the north to the south, east to west, Dr. Limann won massively.
He took over power when Rawlings had led a bloody revolution that saw the murder of three former Heads of State and top military officers. In the name of “Control Price,” all the shelves in our stores and supermarkets were emptied. We really smelt pepper when this half-caste came storming onto the Ghanaian political scene.
In less than six months after taking over power, Limann's government introduced the Trade Linearization police which led to the flooding of the markets with foreign goods to alleviate the suffering of poor Ghanaians. In a matter of six months, his Minister for Fuel and Power, Professor Benneh made sure fuel was in abundance and the long queues at our filling stations went away.
His Minister of Transportation, Mr. Harry Sawyer also did his best to import several Tata buses from India to assuage the suffering of the traveling masses. Within one year, Limann's government was able to purchase four more merchant ships from South Korea to add to the existing sixteen left behind by the Osagyefo's government.
Today, where are the Black Star Line and the twenty ships? They have all been sold by Rawlings.
You see, one distinctive feature of Dr. Limann is that unlike Nkrumah and Busia who died in exile, after his overthrow, Limann stayed in this country for twelve years without anybody taking him to court. He never received any pension pay neither did the state bear his medical bills.
He was also not given any house, vehicles and he died a pauper whiles Emperor Shogun who overthrew his government lived in luxury with his wife and children. Perhaps, with guilt written across the face of Rawlings who was watching him attentively, Professor Mills could not muster the courage to pay compliments to Limann.
Our politicians seem to hide the truth from the younger generation. At sixty-four years, President Mills knows very well that before Dr. Nkrumah entered the Ghanaian political scene, people like J.B. Danquah, Ako Adjei, Paa Grant, Akuffo Addo etc. were at the forefront of our fight for independence. If we are to declare Nkrumah's birthday as a national holiday, what about the forerunners? Adieu, Professor Busia and Dr. Limann!!!
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