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Opinions of Saturday, 8 April 2006

Columnist: Okyere Bonna

Why must the military or Rawlings Apologise ...

... TO GHANA? (I)

In his feature article of titled, ?The Military Including Rawlings Must Apologize To Ghanaians? this author received a lot of remarks including the following:

Comments

1. ?Absolutely nonsense? (Yanks).

2. ?In my opinion the writer must rather thank Rawlings for our current democratic dispensation? (Ato Kwamena).

3. ?It is thrash if you asked me. As for his points about the military he just does not know what he is saying. Afrifa, Kotoka, Acheampong, Rawlings and the lot were not the Military. These were individuals far down the Military hierarchy who were used by civilian politicians or instigated by the prevailing situation to do what they did. Tell me which Chief of Defence Staff and his Military have organised a coup here in Ghana??(Maj. Rtd)).

4.?What this writer tried to do was to personally attack Rawlings and his coups. However, since Rawlings was not the initiator of coups in the country, he needs to find a way of blaming the entire military. Thus, writing a poor article. The army recently helped stabilise the situation in the North (Ali).

5. ?Why do you blame or involve the Military in this case. Your article is really not sound. Don?t rather let the Military vex with you. Maj [Rtd], please rest assured and Messiah, you said it all, this Okyere Bonna is just joking? (KOKLOZI).

6. ?Well if the politicians stop the corruption there will be no need for coup, so you better tell Kufuor that? (Candler).

7. ?Okyere Bona's article is very insane, how on earth could you make such disgruntle statements about the military and Rawlings to apologize to Ghanaians, apologize for what? I don't think you were old enough to know how and why especially Rawlings stood up for the country to intervene to overthrow the then SMC Government, I think you were still by then been Brest fed! That USELESS SMC GOVERNMENT HAD THAT TIME POLLUTED THE COUNTRY (Pocket Lawyer).

8.?I don't think the military should apologise, no. The Military owed no apology to anyone. Neither do Rawlings owed any apology to Ghana or anyone. If God Almighty had not allowed, he would not had ruled Ghana. We need to avoid situations which provide a recipe for such occurrence. Every action has its reaction of some sort? (Yaw).

9. ?I don?t think J.J should apologize for anything. Because without JJ our situation will have been worse than it is today. On the contrary I think we should be grateful he came on stage? (Amoa Wade3).

First, thank you for reading and taking the time to rebut. However, it appears that the article was misread or over judged by some of these commentators and warrants further clarification.

The author wishes to begin by rendering apologies to all those gallant soldiers and families who have been serving their country well without any hand or contribution towards halting Ghana?s democratic process who were offended by the article. These men in uniform who have performed their duties religiously need our commendations and appreciation not rebuke. Bravo. We salute you noble and gallant men of the armed force!

Albeit, the author still condemns military coups irrespective of who staged it. The author still thinks those men in uniform who in their attempt to stop the loot and restore Ghana?s democracy who [came but] remained and stuck to suck the sugar after tasting power and would not leave the scene after rectifying the situation (like Rawlings did in 1981) and eventually became worst than the ?bad boys? or corrupt politicians ought to apologise to Ghana.

This however does not in any case negate their contributions to the nation. We need to pause and ask: what do the military adventurists have to show for in Ghana? Little to nothing! Ghana has to stop everything that it is doing now and backtrack to where everything stopped functioning in Ghana. Feb 24 1966, was the terrible day in our history!. From 1966 to 2006 the country has been sinking with no end in sight. It is not only preposterous for any official in the ruling government to defend the 1966 coup but the most pathetic thing a any elected government in power can do. Guess where Ghana would be today without the ensuing coups?

If there was one person who admired the military as an institution it was this author. This author was part of the cadet corps (at a point) as an Owarean and has always wished military training was compulsory for all national service personnel (including himself). A 1-2 year military training would be a good idea for college graduates. We all need the discipline that comes with the military. If there was one person who admired J.J. it was this author. However admiration does not mean worship or covering up ones wrongs. The purpose of the article was neither to prick old wounds nor to discredit our honorable Ex-President J.J. Rawlings and the military (after all it was the civilians who advised him). It was just to make a point with reference to the events of February 24.1966 and to denounce military coups in a democracy.

Achievements of J.J. Rawlings Rawlings led the country through the difficult years of economic recovery and succeeded in giving back to Ghanaians her national pride (Chazan 1983). During the early stages of the Economic Recovery Program (ERP), his reforms led to an improvement in Ghana's economic situation, with inflation down from 40% to 12% and national income growing by 5% a year. It can be argued that without Rawlings' strength of character and unwavering determination, Ghana would not have survived the Economic Recovery Programs (ERPs) of the 1980s put in place by the ruling Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). Without Rawlings charisma and his willingness to adopt the Britten Woods Institutions Structural Policies in the 1980s Ghana would have degenerated into total chaos. There are numerous studies that can attest to this assertion.

Credit should be given where it is due. Think about the pedestal Rawlings would be standing on today if he had gracefully left the scene after his housecleaning exercise in the 80s? Not even Nkrumah would have matched his greatness. Rawlings came to clean up Ghana and apparently, he did for a short while. But his stay thereafter was unwarranted. This is not to justify that Ghana would be a heaven today but at least, we would be way ahead than today.

Rawlings in the 1980s did well initially to clear up corruption in all walks of life, especially the kalabule system (the "black" or "parallel" market) which had affected the cost of living and which the state suspected to be responsible for the spiraling inflation in Ghana thanks to the SMCI and SMC II. Rawlings apparently in 1982 shortly after the December 31 coup gave the poor working class a voice in the decision-making process of Ghana. He gave some voice to the ordinary Ghanaian including, the farmers, the police, the soldiers, and the workers who had been neglected in the 1970s. Rawlings restored the respect and confidence of the cocoa farmer. The ratio of the price of a metric ton of cocoa to the urban minimum wage, for instance, rose steadily by 1990.

The relative income of Ghana's rural producers became better than that of urban workers (Callaghy 1990). Rawlings transformed his military government of the PNDC authoritarianism to NDC, multi-party democracy in1992. Rawlings, thus became the President of the third Republic and completed his maximum term of 8 years from 1992 to 2000.

Problems With The P/NDC.

Unfortunately the success chalked by Rawlings would soon be eroded as he was very reluctant to hand over power to an elected government. Unfortunately the same SAP policies which had made him a darling of the West brought down living standards for majority of urban dwellers Rawlings had come to redeem. Workers, students, civil servants and many more were hit hard by IMF stabilization measures (Adedeji, J.L. 2001). Education reform programs sponsored by the World Bank limited social welfare program to the children of the rich. The government's withdrawal of removal of tuition, boarding and food subsidies brought extreme hardship to most students whose parents were either retrenched or simply too poor to afford college education for their children. No wonder today the implementation of the SAP has been criticised by many academics and commentators.

Today it is very difficult to tell what has been added on to Nkrumah?s legacy and it makes one very uncomfortable to think about not giving any credit to any of the ensuing governments including J.J. Rawlings and Kufour. However, given their length of stay, Rawlings 19 years and Kufour six years (already in power) compared to Nkrumah?s 9 years the achievements of Rawlings especially is a drop in the bucket.

Now back to the question. Why should Rawlings apologize? No doubt Kufour?s performance today may seem not to warrant this apology. However, Kufour?s performance has nothing to do with Rawlings apologizing to the people of Ghana. Nor does any apology make J.J. Rawlings less of a dignity. In fact all of the coup plotters MUST apologise to Ghana. The terrible day in our history began in Feb 24 1966. From 1966 to 2006 the country has been sinking with no end in sight thanks to military interventions.

[To Be Continued]



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