60 years after independence; how far we have come

Big Six File photo

Tue, 7 Mar 2017 Source: Corporate Liberals

By Corporate Liberals

The story of Ghana’s independence is a landmark event that will always remain a spiritual backbone of our history. United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) was the main political party formed to champion our agenda for independence in the then Gold Coast, now Ghana. The six “wise men” popularly known as the “big six”, namely: Edward Akufo Addo, Ernest Ako Adjei, Emmanuel Obetsebi Lamptey, William Ofori-Atta, Dr. J.B Danquah and Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, galvanized many locals to rise against the British colonial administration.

Contemporary literature have given conflicting views about Ghana’s struggle for independence, regarding the individuals whose direct actions propelled our fight towards independence amongst the big six. A school of thought believes Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was the most instrumental figure in our fight for independence; another school of thought believes Nkrumah was an opportunist who made most out of the moment.

Negligible of which school of thought is right, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was Ghana’s first Prime Minister and President after our struggle for independence. However, his term was truncated by a joint Police and Military coup master-minded by Col E.K. Kotoka, Major A.A Afrifa as well as the then I.G.P, J.W.K Harlleyin in 1966, whiles he was mediating the Vietnam War. The coup was influenced by Dr. Nkrumah’s transmogrification from a democratic leader to a dictator as well as an ailing economy, a fact that some scholars have failed to mention.

The National Liberation Council (NLC), was the new military government formed after the overthrow of Nkrumah, they cited bringing an end to corruption and getting Ghana back on a democratic path as the rationale for their coup. In 1969, a new civilian government was formed after a multi-party election was held to elect Dr. Kofi Busia and the Progress Party (P.P) into office.

The P.P government enjoyed a smooth ride in their first two years due to the increase in cocoa prices, but a drop in cocoa price in 1971 led to an economic crisis leading to unrest in the population. In 1972, the National Redemption Council (NRC) led by Col I.K Achaempong overthrew the P.P through a military coup. Col I.K Achaempong was Head of State under the NRC, but his leadership was characterized by lack of experience and political vision, which brought about flagrant corruption. In 1974, the country was hit by countless strike actions mostly championed by students and workers’ unions.

The worsening economic situation forced Col Achaempong to dissolve the NRC as he hand-picked seven individuals to form the Supreme Military Council (SMC) in 1975. Col Achaempong was forced to resign through what was termed a palace coup spearheaded General William Akuffo under the SMC II in July 1978. However his term was short-lived as the SMC II was overthrown in June 1979 in a mass revolt carried out by junior officers in the Ghana Armed forces. Following the uprising, the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) was set up under the chairmanship of Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.

The AFRC regime, immediately carried out what it called a “house-cleaning exercise” in the country with the aim of restoring a moral sense of responsibility, probity and accountability in public life. The AFRC regime were in office for only three months and handed over power successfully to the People’s National Party (PNP), a civilian administration that emerged victorious after elections were held on 24th September, 1979, under the leadership of Dr. Hilla Limann. The Limann administration was short-lived as it was overthrown on 31st December, 1981, heralding the revolutionary era where Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings became the Chairman of a nine-member Provisional National Defence Ruling Council, (PNDC), which had a governance structure where Secretaries of State in charge of the various ministries reported directly to the leadership of the PNDC.

A body known as the National Commission for Democracy (NCD), was set up by the PNDC administration to champion Ghana’s quest to realise a “true” democratic system of governance. Grassroots participation in governance was established under the PNDC with the establishment of elected District Assemblies. The NCD, subsequently organized fora in all 10 regions of Ghana to solicit people’s inputs on realizing the democratic dream. After these views were amalgamated and analysed, the general consensus leaned towards a multi-party system of government.

On 28th April 1992, the draft constitution was adopted by the good people of Ghana through a referendum. Ghana’s democratic journey after the inception of the 1992 constitution has been highly eventful and has seen the peaceful transition of democratic power to five Presidents in the fourth republic, namely: H.E Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, H.E John Agyekum Kufuor, H.E John Evans Atta-Mills, H.E John Dramani Mahama and H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo. However, Ghana has experienced several rumpuses in our journey to achieve this feat.

Notably amongst them was the allegation of “stolen verdict”, which occurred after the NPP claimed that the 1992 general election was massively rigged against them leading to an eventual boycott of parliament, as they resulted to the courts seek redress on issues concerning both executive and legislative governance. Almost all elections in Ghana have been disputed by the two main political parties in Ghana (NPP and NDC), the only two parties that have alternated in ascending to the highest office of the land.

The 1996, 2004, 2012 and 2016 elections were won in the first round whiles the 2000 and 2008 elections were decided in the second round. In the our 60 years post-independence journey, the 2012 election petition is an event that saw the full utilization of the laid down procedures in seeking electoral redress and Ghanaians continue to enjoy peace afterwards. The people of Ghana deserve a round of applauds because many of the issues that arose in the post-1992 democratic era could have easily destabilized our country.

Political actors over the period especially the incumbent President of Ghana, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, deserves to be commended for his immense contribution towards our democracy. President Akufo Addo was at the forefront of our fight for democracy since 1970, when he joined the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice, a movement set up to oppose Supreme Military Council’s Union Government’s autocratic style of leadership. He was also vocal in voicing at his disappointment on the stolen verdict in 1992.

In May 1995, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo was among a group of elites who formed the Alliance for Change, a group that organized demonstrations against neo-liberal policies such as the introduction of Value Added Tax and human rights violations under President Rawlings. He also peacefully conceded to two electoral defeats in 2008 and 2012 (after the Supreme Court ruling).

Many people have laid down their lives for Ghana to reach where we are now, the blood of these people will always speak to the oracles of our democracy and the peace we enjoy in Ghana is truly God-given. In the recent election, civil society groups, foreign envoys and some notable state groups like the Peace Council have all contributed their quota to ensure that Ghana remains a peaceful country. God bless our homeland Ghana, long live Ghana.

Columnist: Corporate Liberals