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Feature Article of Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

NPP, Be Careful What You Cheer

Can A Coup Be Good Or Justified?

I have watched with curiousity, attempts by true-blue Danquah-Busia cheerleaders to rewrite history. Often, the tendency is to dismiss such infantile attempts as efforts of some fringe group within the tradition. But if and when the leaders of that tradition fail to condemn such acts, it needs our serious attention. We must not tolerate these misguided attempts to twist facts aimed at maligning, marginalizing and breeding divisiveness. Divisiveness, unfortunately, is a trademark of the NLM/UP/NLC/PP/NPP tradition. No matter how you slice it, the end result is bad for all. Yes, even for the prevaricators! They leave less wise, foolishly bolder and enthralled by their own flaming ignorance. I certainly do not get toothy with such shameless apologists. Today, I want to make the point that picking and choosing coups that we favor, is a huge blow to our toddling democracy and therefore not good for our country. In doing so, I will pose serious questions for critical and informed debate. I think the more difficult issue that we ought to explore is: how do you remove legally, an entrenched constitutional government, perceived to be dictatorial by your group, without resorting to violence (coup) or foreign help? Should any group within the country, have the subjective final say on whether a government is dictatorial or not? Can that same group single-handedly impose its morality on the nation? What if it ends up being Taliban type morality?

Let us get these facts straight!! Kotoka and his gaggle of nation wreckers were and are no heroes. What they did was criminal and anti-constitutional. Even if you accept the problems that they unilaterally surfaced, it is no grounds to remove a constitutional government. I don’t buy for a minute, the flimsy excuse that there were no options left for the parochial, lazy and visionless opposition. Then, to hear some blatantly lie that the CIA did not come to us and yet we went to them? At best the interest was mutual between the Matemeho quislings and the CIA. Indeed, there were many options then as there are now! The law courts were opened just as they are now. Actually, the courts were freer then than they are now. Our courts are more corrupt and politically tainted now than they were during Nkrumah’s rule. Nkrumah could not top fill the supreme court to infinity! Civil disobedience is another option that was available. I guess that was not attractive to the nation wreckers because their base was relatively narrow. There was no broad support for any of the self-centered issues that the tattered opposition aimlessly bristled around. International organizations were also yet another viable avenue that the opposition could have tapped into to bring pressure to bear on Nkrumah. After all, Nkrumah believed and participated in these organizations and therefore, he is more apt to listen to them if a legitimate case is made there. There is also ample evidence that Nkrumah made overtures to the opposition. However, consumed by blinding hate, the opposition had no choice but continue its wayward ways. Yes, it is hard work removing an incumbent government that you perceive to be dictatorial. Who said democracy is a rally for the faint hearted? The difficulty in removing Nkrumah is no different than that of dislodging the NPP from power come 2008. Do we force or persuade?

Just look at the aftermath of the 1966 coup and tell me if the architects are to be believed. If really these folks hated dictatorship, why did they impose one right after the coup? Have you read up on the atrocities after the coup? Do you know that the CPP was banned from contesting any elections after the so called democracy loving goons overthrew Nkrumah? Was this coup really about democracy or hatred for one man? Was it about the parochial interest of a few disgruntled democrats wanna bees? Look, if these revisionist and confused bunch, really believe in democracy, why did they choose a leader who worked for a serial coup plotter like Rawlings? To know that Kufour was part of the PNDC government makes you realize how phony these latter day democrats wanna bee folks are. Can anyone tell us about Busia’s no court claim? What about the Apollo whatever? Will Kufour now be bold enough to justify the Dec. 1981 coup? Why didn’t he resign immediately after the 3 judges were killed? There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of this has to do with political opportunism and self-centeredness. Democracy is not something that you embrace for convenience. It is not something that you engage in so long as it advances your parochial interest. You either believe in it or not. If you believe in it, then you must torturously subject yourself to its tosses and turns. Democracy is not a cake walk! It is, like marriage, a difficult yet rewarding endeavor. It is something that must reflect our everyday actions and thoughts if we genuinely and sincerely believe in it.

Let us also be factually clear! Nkrumah, in all his shenanigans, did nothing illegal. All the issues that our UP/NPP folks continue to raise were done constitutionally and legally. The case against Nkrumah is a moral one. But, do you really want to know or be subjected to the morality of the hardcore NPP gang? Look what morality made the Taliban do in Afghanistan! Do we want to go down that route? Call Nkrumah a dictator if you want but he did not work with edicts or decrees. The PDA, one party state and president for life moves were all lawfully and constitutionally passed. I dare any of these shameless apologists to challenge this assertion. I personally disagree with Nkrumah over the one party state and president for life gimmick. Nkrumah was beating the opposition at the polls anyway. There was no need to cement his electoral superiority through legislation. While I sympathize and empathize with those who were unnecessarily victimized by the PDA, I am not lost on the fact that, terrorist acts by the selfish opposition triggered the need to enact that provision. Even the British, friends of the Matemho goons then, supported the PDA.. Yes, some of the CPP foot soldiers abused the provision or Act. However, this does not excuse the bombs that were dropped on school girls and innocents folks by the matemeho gang. I am sure we will not deal with such acts now, any less kinder than Nkrumah did. These days, the UP tradition, through their CIA friends, have come to appreciate the deleterious and debilitating effects of terrorism in all forms. After all, Ghana, led by the NPP, is friends with those who continue to battle self declared enemies they call terrorists. If others can battle terrorism with our cooperation and support, why do we deny Nkrumah the same rights as the leader of our dear and freshly minted country?

The NPP government does Ghana a great disservice by applauding and upholding the 1966 coup even as they condemn the June 4th and December, 31st coup. To think that, this NPP government, goes anal, as soon as rumor of a possible coup by Rawlings fizzles out, is to live in disbelief when members of the same government promote and cheerlead the mother of all coups in Ghana. This government cannot pick and choose coups! To do so is to impose its morality on all Ghanaians. The problem with a coup is that, it is always justified from someone’s parochial perspective. So while some believe Nkrumah was a dictator who was rightfully removed, others believe diligently that Nkrumah was not a dictator and that he had the country at heart. Now, you and I can argue over this dustup till the cows come home. We may never agree! All this tells me is that, your justification for a coup, like mine, are purely subjective. If I am allowed to impose my justification for a coup, I could well make a case that certain governments that we’ve tolerated should or must be removed. So we end up in a race to the bottom. In the end, it boils down to varying subjective and debatable views. How has this helped all of us in the past and present? Can we say that we are better off because of coups? We know what coups can do and I think it is rather foolish and naive to assume that any coup is justified. Our parochial and self centered need to forcibly extract bad governments in our view, should not justify criminal acts against the state. There must be a better and disciplined way to do this without the bitter residue.

I have come to the conclusion that, the real issue or conundrum that we face, is not whether coups are good or not, but how to remove governments that we, and only we, term as bad. So, if I think that Kufour’s government is bad, do I have a right to drum up chargers and then lead a rag tag army to remove it? Of course not! But what if majority of Ghanaians really believe that Kufour’s government is bad? Should they resort to or support a coup to remove it? Absolutely not! What if a minority believe that Kufour’s government is intolerably bad? Should they team up with the CIA to remove it? You see where we all end up being worse off? The glistening fact is that no group, small or large, has the God given right to tell us, nation Ghana, that, a constitutional government deserves to be removed. If a majority of the people feel that way, then let them remove the government through the ballot box. If a minority feels that way, let them convince the nation through civil means. That is what a civilized democracy is supposed to look like. What ever happened to strikes and sit ins? If and when a minority seeks foreign help to remove a constitutional government, it has indeed engaged in treason and must be condemn to death as stipulated by our current constitution. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander! No?

As much as I have serious reservations about certain provisions in our current constitution, I think it has adequately reflected our past on this particular issue. Chapter 1, clause 3, article 1-7 deals clearly with these issues as it should. I think the issue that we had with Nkrumah was how he used the CPP majority to advance his agenda. However, in democracies, majority rule all the time. This is the same situation we have with the NPP now. Take the ROPAL or ROPAB situation for example. Did the NPP not pass that law based on its majority power? Did the NDC not oppose ROPAB for their own peculiar reasons? In fact, one could argue that the current constitution gives more power to the president than we had under Nkrumah. The abuse of majority power is a problem inherent in all democracies. I think as a society, we owe it to ourselves to commence serious debate on how to make the minority function in a multi-party democracy. Our energy is well spent on safeguarding minority rights, multi party democracy and constitutional government than it is justifying certain coups over others. Thank God that our current constitution outlaws a one party state. It also empowers anyone to fight against any attempt to overthrow this constitution violently or illegally. There is no caveat that if a group thinks the incumbent government is bad, it has a right to join forces with imperialists to pluck it. If removing the government now invites the penalty of death, what made it right during Nkrumah time?

The NPP, sitting government, must cease and desist from glorifying the illegal 1966 coup that overthrew Nkrumah. It makes the Danquah-Busia tradition smell and quack like hypocrites. The NPP must realize that its morality does not pass for all of us. Any attempt to impose it morality on us will be fiercely resisted. The NPP will serve the country better if it condemns all coups and works toward true constitutional democracy. It must stop paying lip service to democracy and live its tenets. If it continues to pick and choose coups, it might justify the pick by others outside it camp. When that happens, we will all be worse for it. The NPP must realize that our attempt at democracy this time around is a golden opportunity that people have fought and died for. We cannot sacrifice this opportunity on the alter of recklessness, expediency and self aggrandizement. We know who the real heroes are on all sides and no amount of rewriting history or erecting statues will change that. As always, the president is missing in action when such critical issues sprout. Should we then assume that he supports what these truckling matemeho foot soldiers espoused? I am particularly surprised that the president has not condemned the ill-conceived gassy eruption by Osei-Prempeh and Kofi Dzamesi. I refuse to call them honorable because their conduct leaves much to be desired. Honorable men will not make such irresponsible and hurtful statements at a time when our nation can use all the healing and unity that it deserves. No more coups! No coup in our history has given us more economic or political freedom. This is why our freefall continues!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman
(Also known as the double edge sword)


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