Development of Ghana: A place for I K Acheampong.
One of my “A” level literature questions I have always remembered and applied to daily life goes like this: “Satan was not evil begotten, but good perverted”. Discuss (Credit to my literature master Mr. Aryee of Methodist High Boys’ school Lagos Nigeria)
Throughout my life, I have come to realize that this question applies to all humans. However, I find it a little bit nauseating that one time coup maker and leader, Colonel and later General Acheampong has always been portrayed as someone who was evil begotten in our society. The mention of the name Kutu Acheampong always evokes such synonyms as Kalabule, Golf cars and women etc. Granted that the late Acheampong had all these attributes, can we not as human beings give credit to some of the things he did for this country called Ghana?
Today children all over our first cycle schools recite the national pledge without knowing that it was Acheampong who bestowed that to the nation. There are those who will remember his seven charters of redemption and the one that sticks out clearly is “One nation, one people, one destiny”. If for once we can pause as a nation to live the pledge and some aspects of the charter of redemption, Ghana as we know it now will not be the same. One of the charters also called for a revolutionary discipline but here we are in a democracy and our discipline is far from that of what should be for a civil society.
It will not suffice if I do not point out other works that were done under the regime of this vilified man of Ghana. After that I will leave it to you all to try and measure his achievements pari passu that of others who have also graced the leadership of our country in various forms.
Under Kutu Acheampong, Ghana started one of the biggest irrigation systems in the sub region called the Tono irrigation system in 1975. As at the time of writing this, the system is under utilized as one third of it is being used. He also created the Dawhenya irrigation system in the Accra plains in 1975 with a completion date of 1978. The Akumadan irrigation which started in 1974 was also done to raise the potential of tomato cultivation in that area. There were other irrigation projects that any serious reader can check out from www.mofa.gov.gh. Examples of some these are; Subinja scheme, Tanoso scheme, Mankessim irrigation, Okyereko scheme, the two projects in the Afram plains (Amate and Dedeso scheme) and that of Kpando-Torkor which started from 1974 and completed in 976. All these irrigation projects were in answer to his policy of “Operation Feed Yourself” program. Before Ghanaians were asked to do back yard gardening, there was an operation feed yourself program that relied on gardening.
It is pertinent to note that the Kpong Hydro electric project was constructed by Kutu to augment power generated from Akosombo. Construction work on this dam was started in 1977 and completed in 1982 when Kutu was no more.
The satellite earth station at Kuntuse is the work of Kutu even though it was commissioned by the late DR Hilla Limann of blessed memory. Even though this facility has been abandoned, it is heart warming to note that members of The Ghana Space Science and Technology Centre (GSSTC) are retrofitting it to be used as space science and technology institution.
Most of us today refer to the housing units in Dansoman as SSNIT estates but this project was started by Kutu as the Dansoman project. It was envisaged to be one of the biggest estate systems in West Africa until the creation of Cocody Rock in La Cote D’ivoire. One can also fondly remember the Teshie- Nungua estates projects that started in Acheampong regime. If one pays a visit to the Upper East region, one will not miss the low cost housing projects that Acheampong created for the people in all the district capitals in that part of our country. One will also not forget operation gongon: this was an operation to use helicopter to ferry daily Graphic and Times to the regional capitals of the Northern and Upper regions.
Kutu is known to have built a number of second cycle schools in the Upper regions. One example is Sandema Secondary Technical School. One wonderful thing about this school is that in naming houses after illustrious leaders, no one bothered to even include Acheampong. The four houses in Sandema secondary school are, Ajene, (not too sure about this though) Nkrumah, Rawlings, and Azantilow houses. This is just an example of the abeyance in which we hold the man
In order to boost agriculture in the Upper region (now Upper East and West) Kutu created the URA radio station arguably the first FM radio station in Ghana.
To make the stay of the head of state very pleasant in the regions, he built catering houses which had halls for public social events in almost all the regions. Some of these catering houses had their own resident bands and one that comes to mind immediately is Uppers International.
One thing that some students will remember in the mid seventies is the switch from the imperial number system to the metric system. Added to that was the switch from driving on the left side to the right side. That was August4 1974. If present school children do not know it, it is up to us to let them know because our history books do not cover these momentous events in our developmental history which were done under the leadership of Kutu Acheampong.
Today Ghana is practicing the Junior Secondary School system (JSS). However some do not know that it was under Acheampong that the system was created and tested in all one hundred and ten districts. If one can remember the Dzobo report, then one can give credit to Kutu for a job well done however the full implementation was left to later governments to deal with.
It has been said elsewhere that the National Service Scheme was created by Dr Abrefa Busia. A check on the website of the National service shows that the scheme was created by Act 426 of September 1980. This actually falls in the Hilla Limann period. However if one takes his/her time to read this Act, one will come to understand clearly that this Act 426 repealed NRCD 208 which established the National service scheme in 1973, a very clear testimony that Kutu was the one who established the scheme. I take serious umbrage at the attempt to rob this military man of such accomplishments
Today stands at Kaneshie,a complex named the Kaneshie super market. This edifice was built by Acheampong in around 1973 or later. I was a witness to the laying of the foundation and the plaque is there at the entrance near the Kaneshie police station for all to see.
In sports Kutu distinguished himself by making himself commissioner of sports at a certain point in time. He refurbished the Accra and Kumasi sports stadia and introduced floodlights to the country. He was the first siting head of state to build a stadium at Kaneshie which today is called Azumah Nelson sports complex. He encouraged the security forces to form their own team in 1974 called SS74 which took part in the first division league and later became Defense stars producing such good players as Sam Ampeh, Kwame Sampson, Kuntu Blankson, Abdulai Chesco, Robert Tetteh, etc
He instituted an annual national sports festival to unearthed talents and went further to create a yearly bilateral games with Nigeria which strengthened regional brotherhood and rivalry.
I have made the attempt to genuinely point out some of the things I K Acheampong did for this country. He was not perfect like any of us. We must remember he was tried and shot to death for his imperfection. When we look back in time, can we genuinely say this man deserved to be shot? Come to think of it that it took him seven years to attain all that I have enumerated here. I even sincerely believe that I may be missing some his projects and I will wish a true Ghanaian will rise up and give voice to this man who has done so much yet is not recognized in our historical narratives.
Germantown, MD USA
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