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03.05.2012 General News

Kotoka's coup is part of our history

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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One of the presidential aspirants of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Mr. Bright Akwetey, has reportedly indicated his displeasure over the continuous use of the name Kotoka International Airport (KIA).

The Enquirer newspaper quoted him as saying that it was Lt. Col. Emmanuel Kotoka who overthrew the democratically elected government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and that the naming of the airport after him was unfortunate.

It is instructive to note that Mr. Bight Akwetey is not the only person who has kicked against the naming of our only international airport after Kotoka. Several politicians from the Convention People's Party (CPP) stock, including the vociferous Kwesi Pratt, have also kicked against the use of the name in the past.

The Chronicle shares their sentiments because Kotoka did overthrow a government that was elected by the people of Ghana to steers the affairs of state. If Ghanaians are today blaming the woes of this country on Mr. Jerry John Rawlings for curtailing the democratic path the country had chosen in 1979, then the same yardstick must be used to measure the late Emmanuel Kotoka.

But, whilst admitting this fact, we must also accept that Ghana, as a country, cannot do away with its history. When the New Patriotic Party (NPP) came to power in 2001, the government was confronted with the same issue about the re-naming of the airport.

President Kufuor did not, however, accept the idea, because of his belief that it would not promote national cohesion. In fact, in an interview he granted Mr. Ssaka Sali of the Voice of America fame at the Osu Castle, Kufuor argued that the late Kotoka was considered a hero at the time he staged the coup to topple Nkrumah's government.

To him, therefore, the removal of Kotoka's name from the airport would distort the history of the country.  Someone may argue that Kufuor's thought was based on the fact that his party, the Progress Party (PP), headed by the late Kofi Abrefa Busia, benefited from the overthrow of President Nkrumah, because they won the election that was supervised by the military junta, led by General Ankrah and Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa in 1969.

The Chronicle does not share this argument, because if that is the situation, then Dr. Hilla Limann's People National Party (PNP) government should have been the first to remove the name.

Limann was in power for twenty seven months, but it never occurred to him to change the name.  Limann's failure, to us, confirms Mr. Kufuor's assertion that the removal of the name would not bring about national cohesion, and could also distort our history.

It is the contention of The Chronicle that the time has come for Mr. Bright Akwetey and people who share his view to put to rest agitations for the removal of the Alakple-born military strongman's name from the Accra Airport.

The change of name would not help to bring food to the table of suffering Ghanaians. As argued by Kufuor, we may only succeed in re-writing our history, which would not serve the interest of a multi-ethnic country like Ghana.

Adolf Hitler might be a monster in the eyes of the world, but when you visit Berlin today, there are several museums that depict or explain how he mis-conducted himself during the Second World War. The Chronicle is not supporting the actions of Emmanuel Kotoka, but to agitate for the removal of his name is not the best idea.

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