DR J.B DANQUAH AND HIS DOGMA OF "PROPERTY OWNING DEMOCRACY"
In 1949, at a historical town called Saltpond, saw the birth of a new political force, namely, United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). It was to set the pace for the liberation of the Gold Coast and its citizens, by achieving self-independence within the shortest possible time. This vision was led and inspired by a Philosopher, author, Politician, lawyer and theologian, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, a great man, who was acclaimed, “the Doyen of Gold Coast Politics”, by the British, as well as his contemporaries.
Indeed, it sowed the seed for political consciousness and emancipation from the horror of colonialism and imperialist rule. At that landmark inauguration, clouded by Clergymen, Chiefs, Professionals, lawyers, Business men, etc who were front runners of that movement, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, made a strong worded declaration, of which I quote, “We have come from all the corners of this country…(to decide) how we are to be governed, a new kind of freedom, a Gold Coast liberty. We left our homes in Ghana and came down here to build for ourselves a new home: There is one thing we brought with us from ancient freedom. Today the safety of that freedom is threatened; has been continuously threatened for 100 years; since the Bond of 1844 and the time has come for a decision”.
Undeniable, these gestures by Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah espoused a new form of “Political eruption”, which kicked start the journey and struggle for independence and the creation of a modern Ghana. The much revered and dynamic leader, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, was then flown into the soil of his ancestors to assist in the liberation of its people, under the aegis of the United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C).
Prior to the chaos that led to the breakaway of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, to form his own movement, he was the only payee executive member of the United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C) and was given the responsibility to organize, create the awareness, mobilize and spearhead the ideals for which they stood for.
Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah a conservative and a liberal thinker, like his colleague Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a leftist, had a vision and a path he had always hoped for Ghana to toe, though both great men were parallel on ideological values.
He dreamt and craved for a modern society called Ghana, were individual freedom, fundamental human rights and civil liberty will be upheld in the transformation of the Ghanaian economy and that, wealth will be spread to the majority of the masses and not, the elite few. This is to enable the broad masses own properties, as a secure investment for their children and old age. In this vision, metamorphosed the advancement of the philosophy, “property Owning Democracy”, so describe by, John Rawls, the founder of that ideology. Dr.Joseph Boakye Danquah's immortal dogma was “to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property owning democracy in this land, with right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles to which the government and the laws of the land should be dedicated in order specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen”.
Alas, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah couldn't live more to see either his reign or doctrine of Property owning democracy materialized, due to his incarceration, which led to his untimely death, courtesy the infamous and dreadful Prevention Detention Act (PDA), introduced by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to gag and destroy his critics.
Unlike the populism of the soviet unions and its captains of socialism, the likes of China, Cuba, North Korea etc, that sort to create a social equilibrium by way of sharing equally the scarce resources of their nation among its citizens, which was a recipe for mass poverty, laziness, idleness and corruption. Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah saw the need for a much more pragmatic approach of building a nation via creating wealth and ownership, by the vast majority of its people. In the words of the academician and visionary leader, Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia, “there can be no meaningful democracy if the vast majority of the people live in poverty”.
Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah's version of property owning democracy was to create an enabling environment (positive economic indicators), were individuals will be able to carry out free enterprises, so as to create wealth for themselves and their households. And also to enable them acquire and own properties, to enhance their businesses, in a form of collateral to get credits, to ensure a better livelihood. This venture does not only allow the vast majority of the people to create wealth but also encourage personal initiative, creativity and challenge individuals to be self-reliance and independent for their own common good and that of the nation.
Fortunately, the spirit by which his ideals inspired many well meaning Ghanaians continues to resonate till this day, and the generations yet unborn, will continue to enjoy its sweets, if the New Patriotic Party (NPP), an inheritance of the noble Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, is consistently mandated by the good people of Ghana, in the realm of affairs.
Ghana, in this epoch of post-independence, has witnessed two governments born out of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition and its ideals, thus the Progress Party (PP) led by Prime Minister Prof. Abrefa Busia and ceremonial president Edward Akufo Addo, whose tenure were short-sleeved by a military coup, and the most successful yet of all, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by the able President John Agyekum Kufuor.
In the immediate past 8 years regime of the Kufuor led government, which was build on three major cardinals – Good Governance, Private-Sector Development and Human Resource Development, saw a vivid manifestation of the “property Owning Democracy” concept with an automatic social justice as its guiding principle. It was evident; therefore, Private-Sector Development was made the engine growth of the nation, and prudent economic measures vigorously pursued.
This as a result saw many individual enterprises flourish, and the emergence of many banks in view of the banking sector reform. By that, businesses got credit with ease, to increase their capacity and wealth creation. The economy was quadrupled from $2.Billion of GDP to over $16 Billion of GDP in 2000 to 2008 respectively. A formidable housing policy was enhanced to create an “affordable” home for the majority of Ghanaians, so they can own their homes. However, much would have been done in that sphere, if the governments mandate was renewed, in the not too distant past elections of 2008.
Again, under that administration saw a sharp decline in poverty levels from 39 percent in 1999 to 28% in 2006. Indeed, other social-sectors such as the Healthcare, also witnessed massive improvement as a result of the introduction of the Free Maternal Healthcare and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), that provided free medical treatment to a colossal majority of the populace, which is now been taking aback by the populist-undemocratic so called Social-Democrats of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Incontrovertibly, Good Governance was at its climax during that tenure, which culminated in Ghana been the first country to come out of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), with success and also securing of a whopping $547million for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's). Fundamental Human rights and civil liberties were upheld, which prompted the repeal of the criminal libel law, to ensure press freedom. To that extent, rule of law was the order of the day, not rule of man.
To mention a few of the undertones of property owning democracy in the Kufuor led regime, it was obvious, the standard of living of the majority of the people were uplifted, with right to do business within a conducive atmosphere, and the right to own landed properties.
Obviously, the concept of “property owning democracy” is pro-poor and was meant to restore smiles, happiness and prosperity to all individuals and their dependants.
Our forebears, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah and his likes, did not think of themselves, the elites, when they envisaged and spearheaded the principle of a property owning democracy, but rather sort to liberate the energies of individuals, in the ambiance of rule of law to build a modern society called Ghana. We owe it a duty, both the state and all individuals, to advance this vision, making the Ghanaian society a better one, for us and our children's children.
Long Live The Daquah-Busia-Dombo Tradition!
God Bless Ghana!
Chief Obosu Mohammed
***The author is a Student, Youth Activist and a Radical adherent of the
Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, with a strong appetite for grass-root politicking. He
is also the Country Representative for the World Youth Alliance and a Board member
on the “Shelter Project”, a Social Welfare and Government of Ghana initiative.***
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