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Opinions of Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

Boakye Djan and Doom Mongering

For some time, Major (rtd) Boakye Djan has been on the media circuit on myriad nation issues. As the former spokesperson for the erstwhile Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), which ruled Ghana for almost six months, Djan thinks he has the moral authority to give his piece of mind about some twisted Ghanaian affairs. Either Djan is attempting to analyze the irrationalities in Ghana’s nascent democracy or he sees the on-going row between President John Kufour and his ex-National Security Minister “as a recipe for interventions” and warns of “coups have been happening on the back of national crisis.”

You don’t need to be psychoanalyst to read Djan’s mind and what informs his often chilling analysis of Ghanaian national affairs. In fact President Kufour has indirectly described Djan as “doom monger.” Djan has been part of the most violent era of Ghana’s history – in 1979 (June to September) junior officers, including Djan as one of the senior officers, staged an “uprising” and later “military housecleaning” that saw the consequent executions of former military junta Heads of State - Gen. Akwasi Afrifa of the National Liberation Council; Gen. Kutu Acheampong and some of his associates of the National Redemption Council; and Gen. F. W. Akuffo and other leading members of the Supreme Military Council.

Either as public therapy or moral cleansing or “house cleaning,” Djan and his associates set to re-order a disordered Ghana. In spate of events that indicated the ruling elites have not learned their rough lessons properly, series of political in-fighting, immaturity, misguided actions, coups, counter-coups and vicious events occurred, seeing Ft. Lt. Jerry Rawlings effectively emerging and ruling Ghana for almost 20 years. Afraid of threat to his life, Djan, a former journalist, escaped to the United Kingdom for a long, lonely exile. In London, he had tried variously to topple Rawlings but didn’t succeed.

That was then. Now there is democracy for the past 16 years. The emerging democracy enabled Djan to return from his self-imposed exile. The democratic atmosphere has also allowed Djan to discuss various national issues without fear, appropriating some of the democratic institutions and values such as the media and the rule of law. Despite his big talks of being a democrat, Ghanaians are yet to see any clear cut democratic characteristics from Djan. But either Djan doesn’t understand the nitty-gritty of democratic practices or he is possessed with some dark forces - any row or disagreements or schisms that crop up as part of the democratic growth Djan interpret in a dark, chilling or doom manner, as if the end of Ghana is about occur soon. Hear Djan on President Kufour’s sacking of his National Security Minister, Francis Poku, as reported by myjoyonline.com, the “situation was a recipe for interventions…coups have been happening on the back of national crisis…The situation is preparing grounds for intervention so the situation should be handled with care.”

If politics or professionalism is anything to go by, why should a President Kufour, who has the constitutional powers to fire and hire his Ministers, not have the power to hire and fire a Francis Poku any time he wants. And the more telling aspects of all these nonsense is that President Kufour is perhaps the most level-headed or balanced person to rule Ghana. In the first place, there shouldn’t be any noise or cry or “I will go the press” by Poku. Since becoming President for the past seven years, Kufour has hired and fired some people, and none of them made any juvenile or immature cry or “I will go the press” as Poku has been making. It is this aspects of the Poku sacking that Djan should have discussed in a matured and intellectually objective manner so as to educate the Ghanaian youth – that Poku can be hired and fired, period – instead of “situation” being “a recipe for interventions…coups have been happening on the back of national crisis…The situation is preparing grounds for intervention so the situation should be handled with care.”

With 21 years of military rule out of its 50 years of corporate existence, Djan is so gripped with the dark recesses of Ghana’s history and his own demons part of which has come about because of his violent experiences in the Ghanaian political scene that he does not either see the bright side or the objective part of Ghana, particularly the fact that democracies everywhere have their moments of misunderstanding or acrimony or rupture. A few months ago, there were violent fights in the Indian National Parliament and the South Korean Parliament. In Japan, some Ministers caught in corruption scandals have committed suicide. In the United States, Congress and the Bush White House have had sustained acrimony and disagreements over many national issues, some bordering on very serious national security. And when this happens it doesn’t mean the “situation was a recipe for interventions…coups have been happening on the back of national crisis…The situation is preparing grounds for intervention so the situation should be handled with care.”

Still, after the successful convening of the ruling National Patriotic Party congress that elected former Foreign Minister, Nana Akufo-Addo, as the party’s presidential candidate, Djan viewed that whole exercise as so mired in money that he stated that “Ghana’s political party democracy is irrational and needs a revolution of ideas to address the potential for instability that it could create for the country.” The irrationality emanating from Ghana’s democracy is as a result of the fact that Ghana’s democracy is infant – even the so-called advanced democracies often show irrationality, as Djan might have seen in his long years in the United Kingdom. At 60-something years old, his long global exposure, his university education, and his involvement in a violent military junta, Djan, over the years, have not demonstrated any remarkably fresh ideas to fertilize Ghana’s democracy and development process.

While it is difficult to ignore what Djan is saying – that “As a former national security operative and user of national security products in government, the developments give me a cause for grave concern” – Ghana’s emerging democracy, like all struggling democracies globally, should have a way of resolving its disagreements or to use Djan’s favourite word, “irrationalities,” without the situation being “a recipe for interventions…coups have been happening on the back of national crisis…The situation is preparing grounds for intervention so the situation should be handled with care.”



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