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Opinion | Dec 11, 2017

The Enthusiastic Coup Makers And The Making Of A Political Party

Former President Rawlings
Former President Rawlings

The widely recognised and dominant political traditions in Ghana have been the ‘Nkrumaists’ and the Danquah-Dombo-Busia.

The phraseology, political tradition, is used as a descriptive label for a set of ideas and values about political parties in a democratic dispensation. Political tradition, therefore, comprises the body of ideas that undergird the conduct of political parties.

In a historical perspective, the story was told, that the first political party formed in Ghana on 4th August 1947 was the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC).

It has been well-documented that the organisers of the UGCC generously extended an invitation to the equally intrepid and patriotic Dr Nkrumah in London to take an important position as the secretary of the organisation.

To his credit, and as expected of a true patriot, Dr Nkrumah graciously obliged and took the position. But as it is with any other working team, unexpected dissonance ensued and the members unfortunately parted ways thereafter.

Subsequently, Dr Nkrumah, together with a few unhappy UGCC apologists broke away and formed the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) on 12th June 1949.

The other remaining members of the defunct UGCC then decided to form a new party which was called the United Party (UP).

Based on the obvious rich history of the Nkrumaists and the Danquah-Dombo-Busia traditions, the party faithful have the bragging rights about the authenticity of their respective ideologies.

Bizarrely, however, the supporters of the New Democratic Congress (NDC), a party that sprung out of a series of truculent coup d’états, have been parasitically holding on to the Nkrumaists tradition.

Take my word, dearest reader, that could never be right, because as far as Ghanaians are concerned, the NDC Party was founded on the ideals of coup makers, who had no spelled out ideology back then.

Perhaps, the brassbound NDC Party supporters are not content with their violent and weird tradition, and hence seeking refuge in the Nkrumaists tradition.

The NDC Party apparatchiks, so to speak, have over the years been hoodwinking and proselytising unsuspecting Ghanaians to believing that the NDC Party is a subsidiary of the Nkrumaists tradition. How possible?

The fact however is, the NDC Party was founded on the ideals of coup making enthusiasts, who without doubt were novices in the political terrain.

Given the bizarre circumstances in which the NDC Party was formed, one would have expected a true probity, transparency and accountability within the elected NDC government, but that has never been the case.

Since the attainment of the independence from the British in 1957, the NDC tradition (PNDC and NDC) had governed the country more than any other government I can think of. In fact, that tradition had governed Ghana for approximately 27 years out of Ghana’s 60 years.

It is for this reason that some of us cannot get my head around how and why some people would choose to bypass the worst culprit, the NDC Party for Ghana’s poor macroeconomic indicators, and would gleefully upbraid the likes of CPP, PNP, NLC, SMC, and NPP.

If we stroll down memory lane, the CPP tradition (CPP and PNP) governed the country for approximately 12 years.

Disappointingly, though, the last ‘Nkrumaists’ government formed by the PNP, and led by Dr Hilla Limann, was deposed by the founders of the NDC Party which was spearheaded by Ex-President J. J. Rawlings on 31st December 1981.

The military regimes of the NLC, SMC 1 and 2 ruled Ghana for approximately 10 years before the founders of the NDC revoltingly usurped power on 4th June 1979.

The UP tradition (PP and NPP) total share of the day-to-day management of the country is about 11 years to date.

In my humble opinion, in terms of useful infrastructural projects which put the country at a substantial and auspicious position, Dr Nkrumah’s CPP government did exceedingly better than any of the administrations that followed.

Even though Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia’s government lasted for less than three years, he did his utmost best in terms of meaningful development.

The achievements of Busia's government include inter alia, the building of roads, housing, provision of healthcare facilities and water.

Besides, Dr Busia was the first Ghanaian leader to create a ministry responsible for rural development, a decision which was in consonance with his consuming desire to improving the socio-economic living standards of the rural dwellers (Daily Guide, 11/07/2013).

Normally, I abhor the shenanigans of coup makers, but General I. K. Acheampong (The Head of State from 1972-78) was an exception to my arousing disgust. Indeed, I had a great deal of respect for the man, primarily due to his great sense of foresight.

In my view, General I. K. Acheampong was a visionary leader who initiated pragmatic policies such as operation feed yourself and affordable housing units.

If we go down memory lane, General I. K. Acheampong led a group of disgruntled soldiers and in a truculent fashion usurped Prime Minister Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia’s government in 1972.

The mutinous coup makers adopted a taxonomic nomenclature for their regime, called The Supreme Military Council (SMC).

In 1978, General Acheampong was accused of economic mismanagement, and was consequently forced to resign by a group of army officers led by General Akufo.

General Akufo and his other rabble rousers renamed the government as the Supreme Military Council 2 (SMC2).

A sequential account was given, though anecdotally, that the harsh living conditions at the time prompted a group of patriotic citizens to stand up against the injustices and demanded a democratic rule.

But before the country could reach a consensus on the question of civilian rule, a group of disgruntled junior army officers led by Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings revolted against General Fred Akuffo’s SMC2 regime on 15th May 1979.

However, the cabals failed in their insurrection, which culminated in the arrest and trial of Rawlings and his cohorts.

All the same, the judicial process was halted prematurely by a group of soldiers sympathetic to Rawlings, who revolted on 4th June 1979.

The rebellious soldiers (mobsters) broke jail and released Rawlings and his cohorts from a lawful custody.

After successfully deposing General Akuffo and his Supreme Military Council2 (SMC2) government, the stubbornly impenitent jailbreakers went ahead and formed their own government, which they called as the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and appointed Flt. Rawlings as their chairman.

Rawlings and his friends vowed to purge off the rampant sleazes, corruption and social injustices which instigated their coup d’état.

So in their desperate attempt to lustrate the country of the perceived injustices, they carried out what they termed “house cleaning exercise”,--they dealt with perceived offenders arbitrarily (instant justice was the order of the day).

The mutinous coup makers proceeded with their intentions and callously exterminated eight prominent officers, whom they accused of committing sleazes and corruption without trial.

The Officers included General Fred Akuffo, General Kutu Acheampong, General Akwasi Afrifa amongst others.

The coup makers transferred power to Dr Hilla Limann and his PNP Party following the successful election in 1979.

The story was narrated, in a historical standpoint, that the Limann government assumed office at a time when the economy was stagnant; all credit lines to the country had diminished and were finally blocked due to brutalities and confiscations at the harbours and other points of entry into Ghana.

However, through well-executed negotiations, policies and programmes, PNP government back then initiated a prudent approach with the view to resolving the socio-economic problems.

It was reported that the PNP government put in dint of effort to repay the short-term debts and showed commitment to meet the debt obligations.

More importantly, Dr Limann’s government was able, within 18 months, to restore virtually all traditional credit lines (Source: PNC).

Disappointingly, however, Rawlings and his cohorts did not give Dr Limann and his PNP government the breathing space to govern the country, as they relentlessly breathed down the neck of President Liman.

Rawlings and his conspiratorial plotters, as a matter of fact, unfairly kept criticising Dr Limann’s administration for what the coup makers perceived as economic mismanagement, until Rawlings and his jailbreaking geezers decided to depose Dr Limann.

Subsequently, J. J. Rawlings and the other obstreperous jailbreakers took arms and succeeded in deposing the democratically elected government of Dr Hilla Limann on 31st December 1981.

And, Rawlings and his friends formed a government which they called the Provisional national Defence Council (PNDC) and appointed Rawlings as the chairman.

Although the PNDC and NDC administrations back then paraded some seasoned politicians, the vast majority of the military personnel who headed important Ministries were novices in the political scene.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Rawlings’s administration adopted a seemingly disastrous Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), which was introduced under the auspices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Regrettably, the vast majority of tangible national assets, including the state owned enterprises were allegedly sold to friends and families for pittance.

In practice, the apparent unfavourable Economic Recovery Programme culminated in a catalogue of hardships. And, on top of the harsh programmes and policies which threatened the economic fundamentals, the population had to clutch itself for food shortages, a situation which the world press somehow ignored in favour of the concurrent Ethiopian famine that resulted in millions of deaths.

Indeed, their desperate attempt to initiate the Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD) did nothing to improve the unfortunate situation as untold hardships permeated many households.

Starvation, so to speak, visited the vast majority of Ghanaians, and hence developing revoltingly ugly collar bones which the humorous Ghanaians renamed as “Rawlings Chain”. That was indeed the pernicious extent of the hunger.

After imposing himself and despotically ruling the country for over 11 years, J. J. Rawlings retired from the military, formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and bizarrely metamorphosed into civilian president in 1992.

It is worth stressing that Ex-President Rawlings 96 months democratic rule came to an end in January

Disappointingly, though, former President Rawlings memorable achievement was to send us to the membership of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).

K. Badu, UK.

Kwaku Badu
Kwaku Badu, © 2017

This author has authored 667 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: KwakuBadu

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