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Opinions of Saturday, 29 September 2007

Columnist: Atta-Boakye, Ken

And Help Us Resist Oppressor’s Rule

Ghanaians who are familiar with the Ghana National Anthem know precisely what the above quote is all about. The quote has become necessary in the light of an article that appeared on Ghanaweb on Friday, Sept 14, 2007 captioned: ‘Message From NDC Virginia Chapter’. The Virginia NDC Chapter purported to present the Dankwah-Busia tradition of the past as a violent party; so also is the NPP which is the off-shoot of the Dankwah-Busia tradition. NPP is equally as guilty of political violence as its predecessor, they claimed. A similar message was also published on the Ghanaweb by one Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, Ph.D, who attempted to spread such a controversial and misleading message around. I think they all grossed over what should be the fundamental factors that determine how a party should be branded as violent or not.

The first part of the article recounted nine instances when the Dankwah-Busia tradition attempted to assassinate Dr Nkrumah through bomb-throwing at different places at different times. Sometimes innocent lives were lost. Bomb-throwing was not a good option to resist oppressor’s rule. We should all admit. However, since it was only one individual who was the target of the assassination why didn’t he opt for a better way to broker peace for the nation? But because he had a personal ambition and agenda he chose to oppress and suppress the people the more as though oppression was the only solution.

From the very day when Nkrumah was invited to join UGCC in 1946 as the General Secretary he hatched a scheme to acquire wide influence within the UGCC by forming the Commission for Youth Organization (CYO). He mobilized the youth with revolutionary zeal and they changed the dynamics, strategies and the modalities of the UGCC. The UGCC leadership was shortsighted by dismissing Nkrumah. As a dynamic leader with large following he founded his own party in 1949- Convention People’s Party (CPP) whose motto was: Self-Govt Now as against UGCC’s motto: Step by Step approach. Nkrumah’s message resonated well with the people and that made him win all the general elections. Thus in 1957 he won Independence for Ghana and became the first Prime Minister of Ghana under a new national constitution. The troubles followed.

As a first step to neutralize the strength of the opposition party he promulgated the Protective Detention Act (PDA) in 1958. Stalwarts of opposition were imprisoned. He formed the Young Pioneer Movement and indoctrinated school children to spy on their parents. At night, parents were arbitrarily arrested and sent to Nsawam prisons. He succeeded in pressurizing a CPP-backed Parliament to declare him Life-president. He declared Ghana a one-party State and refused to listen to any opposing view. According to the NDC Virginia Chapter, the efforts to assassinate Dr Nkrumah started from 1958 through January 1, 1964. While the assassination attempts were not effective and safe to remove the oppressor the 1966 Feb 24 Coup was unavoidable. As Nelson Mandela once said, “those who make peaceful negotiations impossible make a revolution inevitable” Can the Virginia NDC Chapter suggest a non-violent approach which the opposition could have used?

The second part of the article concentrated on the events that portrayed NPP as equally guilty of political violence from 1992 through 2000. They mentioned three events but I don’t intend to dignify them with a detailed response. Take for instance the claim that the opposition orchestrated the killing of women in the Accra metropolis, to put fear into the populace to vote the opposition into power in the 2000 elections. This was unfounded and baseless. How about the alternate allegation that the killings were to obtain human body parts to perform juju to retain NDC in power? None is right. The killings still remain a mystery.

Although JJ Rawlings preached the ‘gospel’ of positive defiance, he didn’t accept it when it was applied on him for oppressing the opposition at the time he was the President in 1992. He acted violently to it. A case in point is what happened to the Legon students on March 22, 1993. The university students began a boycott of classes to press their demand for an increase in students’ loan NDC thugs attacked and beat them up. On May 12, 1994, persons believed to be NDC agents sneaked into the premises of the FREE PRESS and littered the whole place with human faeces. On Dec 4, 1994, police raided the premises of Dr Charles Wereko-Brobbey and seized the transmission equipment of Radio Eye and arrested five persons including two Britons. On May 12, 1995, when poor workers peacefully demonstrated against the Value Added Tax under “Kume Preko” banner, ACRD thugs opened fire on them, killing four. You can add to the list and they all happened under ex-President Rawlings’ watch during the period of democratic rule. I wonder how the NDC would react if President Kufuor uses the NPP parliamentary majority to subvert the constitution and declare himself “President-for-Life”. How would the NDC react if Kufuor follows this declaration with the arrest and detention of key NDC leaders?

Dictators and oppressors, like Rawlings and Nkrumah, go every length to achieve their selfish goals and that is where the problem lies. The Virginia NDC Chapter should not side-step the issue but should come out with a message that would be appropriate and would serve the general interest of the nation. As the strongest opposition party, the NDC has a significant role to play in nation building. A positive contribution to national development is the best they can do for the nation.

Ken Atta-Boakye
Virginia, USA.
September 25, 2007

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.