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Opinions of Thursday, 28 December 2017

Columnist: K. Badu

Generations must know: how NDC shattered Ghana’s dreams (II)

We have over the years been relying on terrible economic managers who have only succeeded in sinking the economy deeper and deeper into the mire through corrupt practices.

Obviously it is that trite and dowdy word respect that has given the supposedly grown up people in Africa the licence to misbehave over the years.

For if that was not the case, how come our leaders continue to create loot and share our resources and often go scot free?

Of course, one would be crudely labelled disrespectful for upbraiding for instance, the voracious party apparatchiks who persistently accept bribes and dip their hands into the national coffers as if there is no tomorrow. For God sake, how could it be contumelious for calling a spade a spade?

Given that corruption is economic, social, political and moral hindrance on the advancement of most nations, especially the emerging countries like Ghana, the insensitive NDC officials have over the years been siphoning our scarce resources to the detriment of the penniless in society.

I must, however, confess that generally, I abhor the shenanigans of coup makers, but General I. K. Acheampong (The Head of State from 1972-78) was an exception to my arousing disgust. Indeed, I had a great deal of respect for the man, primarily due to his great sense of foresight.

In my view, General I. K. Acheampong was a visionary leader who initiated pragmatic policies such as operation feed yourself and affordable housing units.

If we go down memory lane, General I. K. Acheampong led a group of disgruntled soldiers and truculently usurped Prime Minister Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia’s government in 1972 and formed a government which they called The Supreme Military Council (SMC).

In 1978, General Acheampong was accused of economic mismanagement, and was consequently forced to resign by a group of army officers led by General Akufo.

General Akufo and his other rabble rousers renamed the government as the Supreme Military Council 2 (SMC2).

A sequential account was given, though anecdotally, that the harsh living conditions at the time prompted a group of patriotic citizens to stand up against the injustices and demanded a democratic rule.

But before the country could reach a consensus on the question of civilian rule, a group of disgruntled junior army officers led by Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings revolted against General Fred Akuffo’s SMC2 regime on 15th May 1979.

However, the cabals failed in their insurrection, which culminated in the arrest and trial of Rawlings and his cohorts.

All the same, the judicial process was halted prematurely by a group of soldiers sympathetic to Rawlings, who revolted on 4th June 1979.

The rebellious soldiers (mobsters) broke jail and released Rawlings and his cohorts from a lawful custody.

After successfully deposing General Akuffo and his Supreme Military Council2 (SMC2) government, the stubbornly impenitent jailbreakers went ahead and formed their own government, which they called as the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and appointed Flt. Rawlings as their chairman.

Rawlings and his friends vowed to purge off the rampant sleazes, corruption and social injustices which instigated their coup d’état.

So in their desperate attempt to lustrate the country of the perceived injustices, they carried out what they termed “house cleaning exercise”,--they dealt with perceived offenders arbitrarily (instant justice was the order of the day).

The mutinous coup makers proceeded with their intentions and callously exterminated eight prominent officers, whom they accused of committing sleazes and corruption without trial.

The Officers included General Fred Akuffo, General Kutu Acheampong, General Akwasi Afrifa amongst others.

The coup makers transferred power to Dr Hilla Limann and his PNP Party following the successful election in 1979.

The story was narrated, in a historical standpoint, that the Limann government assumed office at a time when the economy was stagnant; all credit lines to the country had diminished and were finally blocked due to brutalities and confiscations at the harbours and other points of entry into Ghana.

However, through well-executed negotiations, policies and programmes, PNP government back then initiated a prudent approach with the view to resolving the socio-economic problems.

It was reported that the PNP government put in dint of effort to repay the short-term debts and showed commitment to meet the debt obligations.

More importantly, Dr Limann’s government was able, within 18 months, to restore virtually all traditional credit lines (Source: PNC).

Disappointingly, however, Rawlings and his cohorts did not give Dr Limann and his PNP government the breathing space to govern the country, as they relentlessly breathed down the neck of President Liman.

Rawlings and his conspiratorial plotters, as a matter of fact, unfairly kept criticising Dr Limann’s administration for what the coup makers perceived as economic mismanagement, until Rawlings and his jailbreaking geezers decided to depose Dr Limann.

Subsequently, J. J. Rawlings and the other obstreperous jailbreakers took arms and succeeded in deposing the democratically elected government of Dr Hilla Limann on 31st December 1981.

And, Rawlings and his friends formed a government which they called the Provisional national Defence Council (PNDC) and appointed Rawlings as the chairman.

Although the PNDC and NDC administrations back then paraded some seasoned politicians, the vast majority of the military personnel who headed important Ministries were novices in the political scene.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, Rawlings’s administration adopted a seemingly disastrous Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), which was introduced under the auspices of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Regrettably, the vast majority of tangible national assets, including the state owned enterprises were allegedly sold to friends and families for pittance.

In practice, the apparent unfavourable Economic Recovery Programme culminated in a catalogue of hardships. And, on top of the harsh programmes and policies which threatened the economic fundamentals, the population had to clutch itself for food shortages, a situation which the world press somehow ignored in favour of the concurrent Ethiopian famine that resulted in millions of deaths.

Indeed, their desperate attempt to initiate the Programme of Action to Mitigate the Social Costs of Adjustment (PAMSCAD) did nothing to improve the unfortunate situation as untold hardships permeated many households.

Starvation, so to speak, visited the vast majority of Ghanaians, and hence developing revoltingly ugly collar bones which the humorous Ghanaians renamed as “Rawlings Chain”. That was indeed the pernicious extent of the hunger.

After imposing himself and despotically ruling the country for over 11 years, J. J. Rawlings retired from the military, formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and bizarrely metamorphosed into civilian president in 1992.

It is worth stressing that Ex-President Rawlings 96 months democratic rule came to an end in January 2001.

Disappointingly, though, former President Rawlings memorable achievement was to send us to the membership of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC).