Feature Article of Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Columnist: Atta-Boakye, Ken
The Ghanaian dream of “Freedom and Justice” inscribed on the coat of arms has painfully eluded Ghanaians. We are not living in the world that was promised at Independence. Senior citizens wonder if obtaining Independence has been useful or beneficial. Ghanaians have been politically emancipated but we still live in economic and social bondages. There is open thievery of public resources by state officials for their own benefit yet there is no justice to avert such circumstances. Additionally, the greater population is in abject poverty.
The history of Ghana is full of twists and turns. Barely a decade after independence in 1957, there was a military take-over. That regime did not stay long and handed over in 1969. In 1971, there was another military takeover by Col Kutu Achampong. The military seemed to be enjoying the coup as they engaged fully in the administration of the nation. They were the CEO’s of all government corporations and headed other state institutions. They invested themselves in all public agencies and made it seem like the nation could not thrive without them. They went around enforcing price controls and terrorized people who defaulted in private loan payments. They were found in the nooks and crannies of the nation. Unfortunately, they were more corrupt than the civilians.
The military head of state, Kutu Achampong, conceived of a power-sharing scheme among the military, the police, and the civilians and thus, proposed Union-Government which failed to pass in a referendum. The junior rank and file in the army led by Flt Rt JJ Rawlings decided to rescue the nation from the cruel administrative hands of the senior military personnel and staged a palace coup to bring the nation one more time to civilian rule. This led to Rawlings’ political prominence. The new military junta, the AFRC stayed for just three months and handed the nation back to Civilian Rule in 1969 led by Dr Hilla Limann.
The Hilla Limann administration too was a failure. He was throwing parties in the Castle while the masses were languishing in poverty. The leaders shared foreign aids amongst themselves long before they returned home. We were at the crossroad of a nation without effective leadership. Our constitutional best option was to apply civil disobedience to compel Parliament to initiate ‘vote of no confidence’ in the regime. This did not happen and the retired JJ Rawlings infiltrated into the Army to stage another takeover. At this time, he decided to rule forever as if Ghana was his property. Local talk-shows, the media and the international community urged JJ Rawlings to return the nation to a civilian rule.
Finally in 1992, a new constitution for multi-party democracy was drafted and JJ Rawlings contested as a civilian and won the elections in controversial election results. JJ Rawlings was a two four-year terms President.
When President Kufour took-over there were few positive changes for development but during his last year in 2008 he took some wrong turns: he awarded himself and his cronies unnecessary national medals. He secretly retired corrupt officials, and did not let them face justice. He granted controversial pardons and these people became ambassadors and ministers after regime change. The people couldn’t forgive his party. Thus, the Rawlings’ party grasped power again, this time with Prof Atta Mills elected as the President.
Ghanaians have witnessed all these political turns without any positive changes and there is no hope in sight. Corruption is on the rise with government officials being the most culprits and accomplices. Where do we go? Where do you find the answers?
There is no Messiah from anywhere. Ghanaians have to be keen to make prudent decisions. The politicians will not change as long as they feed on national resources. It is very insulting and provocative to listen to them on talk-shows. They make mockery of themselves as witnesses to judgment debt issues. We do not want to wait for the possibility of a head-on genocide occasioned by leadership failure. We call for practical long term solution in the schools.
In conclusion, I suggest that the government should team up with National Commission for Civic Education, (NCCE) and under their umbrella of Project Citizen introduce Civic Education in the schools to train future leaders of high moral character. This is what Ghana needs for the next decade and beyond.
(This article is an extract from the Study Guide Book of Campaign to Promote Civic Education in Ghana)
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