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Opinions of Friday, 24 September 2010

Columnist: Mohammed, Chief Obosu

Dr J.B Danquah And His Dogma Of "Property Owning Democracy"

In 1949, at a historical town called Saltpond, saw the birth of a new political
force, namely, United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). It was to set the pace for the
liberation of the Gold Coast and its citizens, by achieving self-independence within
the shortest possible time. This vision was led and inspired by a Philosopher,
author, Politician, lawyer and theologian, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, a great man,
who was acclaimed, “the Doyen of Gold Coast Politics”, by the British, as well as
his contemporaries.

Indeed, it sowed the seed for political consciousness and emancipation from the
horror of colonialism and imperialist rule. At that landmark inauguration, clouded
by Clergymen, Chiefs, Professionals, lawyers, Business men, etc who were front
runners of that movement, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, made a strong worded
declaration, of which I quote, “We have come from all the corners of this
country…(to decide) how we are to be governed, a new kind of freedom, a Gold Coast
liberty. We left our homes in Ghana and came down here to build for ourselves a new
home: There is one thing we brought with us from ancient freedom. Today the safety
of that freedom is threatened; has been continuously threatened for 100 years; since
the Bond of 1844 and the time has come for a decision”.

Undeniable, these gestures by Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah espoused a new form of
“Political eruption”, which kicked start the journey and struggle for independence
and the creation of a modern Ghana. The much revered and dynamic leader, Dr Kwame
Nkrumah, was then flown into the soil of his ancestors to assist in the liberation
of its people, under the aegis of the United Gold Coast Convention (U.G.C.C).

Prior to the chaos that led to the breakaway of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, to form his own
movement, he was the only payee executive member of the United Gold Coast Convention
(U.G.C.C) and was given the responsibility to organize, create the awareness,
mobilize and spearhead the ideals for which they stood for.

Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah a conservative and a liberal thinker, like his colleague
Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a leftist, had a vision and a path he had always hoped for Ghana
to toe, though both great men were parallel on ideological values.

He dreamt and craved for a modern society called Ghana, were individual freedom,
fundamental human rights and civil liberty will be upheld in the transformation of
the Ghanaian economy and that, wealth will be spread to the majority of the masses
and not, the elite few. This is to enable the broad masses own properties, as a
secure investment for their children and old age. In this vision, metamorphosed the
advancement of the philosophy, “property Owning Democracy”, so describe by, John
Rawls, the founder of that ideology. Dr.Joseph Boakye Danquah’s immortal dogma was
“to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property owning
democracy in this land, with right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles
to which the government and the laws of the land should be dedicated in order
specifically to enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen”.

Alas, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah couldn’t live more to see either his reign or
doctrine of Property owning democracy materialized, due to his incarceration, which
led to his untimely death, courtesy the infamous and dreadful Prevention Detention
Act (PDA), introduced by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to gag and destroy his critics.

Unlike the populism of the soviet unions and its captains of socialism, the likes of
China, Cuba, North Korea etc, that sort to create a social equilibrium by way of
sharing equally the scarce resources of their nation among its citizens, which was a
recipe for mass poverty, laziness, idleness and corruption. Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah
saw the need for a much more pragmatic approach of building a nation via creating
wealth and ownership, by the vast majority of its people. In the words of the
academician and visionary leader, Prof. Kofi Abrefa Busia, “there can be no
meaningful democracy if the vast majority of the people live in poverty”.

Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah’s version of property owning democracy was to create an
enabling environment (positive economic indicators), were individuals will be able
to carry out free enterprises, so as to create wealth for themselves and their
households. And also to enable them acquire and own properties, to enhance their
businesses, in a form of collateral to get credits, to ensure a better livelihood.
This venture does not only allow the vast majority of the people to create wealth
but also encourage personal initiative, creativity and challenge individuals to be
self-reliance and independent for their own common good and that of the nation.

Fortunately, the spirit by which his ideals inspired many well meaning Ghanaians
continues to resonate till this day, and the generations yet unborn, will continue
to enjoy its sweets, if the New Patriotic Party (NPP), an inheritance of the noble
Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, is consistently mandated by the good people of Ghana,
in the realm of affairs.

Ghana, in this epoch of post-independence, has witnessed two governments born out of
the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition and its ideals, thus the Progress Party (PP) led
by Prime Minister Prof. Abrefa Busia and ceremonial president Edward Akufo Addo,
whose tenure were short-sleeved by a military coup, and the most successful yet of
all, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), led by the able President John Agyekum Kufuor.

In the immediate past 8 years regime of the Kufuor led government, which was build
on three major cardinals – Good Governance, Private-Sector Development and Human
Resource Development, saw a vivid manifestation of the “property Owning Democracy”
concept with an automatic social justice as its guiding principle. It was evident;
therefore, Private-Sector Development was made the engine growth of the nation, and
prudent economic measures vigorously pursued.

This as a result saw many individual enterprises flourish, and the emergence of many
banks in view of the banking sector reform. By that, businesses got credit with
ease, to increase their capacity and wealth creation. The economy was quadrupled
from $2.Billion of GDP to over $16 Billion of GDP in 2000 to 2008 respectively. A
formidable housing policy was enhanced to create an “affordable” home for the
majority of Ghanaians, so they can own their homes. However, much would have been
done in that sphere, if the governments mandate was renewed, in the not too distant
past elections of 2008.

Again, under that administration saw a sharp decline in poverty levels from 39
percent in 1999 to 28% in 2006. Indeed, other social-sectors such as the Healthcare,
also witnessed massive improvement as a result of the introduction of the Free
Maternal Healthcare and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), that provided
free medical treatment to a colossal majority of the populace, which is now been
taking aback by the populist-undemocratic so called Social-Democrats of the ruling
National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Incontrovertibly, Good Governance was at its climax during that tenure, which
culminated in Ghana been the first country to come out of the African Peer Review
Mechanism (APRM), with success and also securing of a whopping $547million for the
Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Fundamental Human rights and civil liberties
were upheld, which prompted the repeal of the criminal libel law, to ensure press
freedom. To that extent, rule of law was the order of the day, not rule of man.

To mention a few of the undertones of property owning democracy in the Kufuor led
regime, it was obvious, the standard of living of the majority of the people were
uplifted, with right to do business within a conducive atmosphere, and the right to
own landed properties.

Obviously, the concept of “property owning democracy” is pro-poor and was meant to
restore smiles, happiness and prosperity to all individuals and their dependants.

Our forebears, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah and his likes, did not think of themselves,
the elites, when they envisaged and spearheaded the principle of a property owning
democracy, but rather sort to liberate the energies of individuals, in the ambiance
of rule of law to build a modern society called Ghana. We owe it a duty, both the
state and all individuals, to advance this vision, making the Ghanaian society a
better one, for us and our children’s children.

Long Live The Daquah-Busia-Dombo Tradition!

God Bless Ghana!

Chief Obosu Mohammed


***The author is a Student, Youth Activist and a Radical adherent of the
Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, with a strong appetite for grass-root politicking. He
is also the Country Representative for the World Youth Alliance and a Board member
on the “Shelter Project”, a Social Welfare and Government of Ghana initiative.***