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Opinions of Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Columnist: The National Forum

Limann Revealed



In a record setting biography of the late Dr Hill Limann, second elected President of the 3rd Republic of Ghana, the author, Prof Ivan Addae-Mensah has revealed some facts that for long have either been misrepresented or outrightly distorted to please the whims and caprices of those behind the deceptions. A TNF special desk report has learned.

Contrary to a view held by some students of history and historians that the AFRC shortened or hastened the return to multi-party democratic rule, Prof Addae-Mensah reveals that the June 4 coup was about retribution rather than liberation.

On page 50 of 630 paged scholarly work it is shown that the AFRC stuck to the date already scheduled for the Parliamentary and Presidential elections by the Akuffo government. The author also reveals on pg.48 that "there were still rumour about discontent in the armed forces especially among the junior ranks, who felt that the organization of the free elections for return to civilian rule might leave very senior military officers to escape free with their perceived loot of the nation's resources."

This view is corroborated by what the Chairman of the AFRC said to justify the murder of the Generals and other senior military officers on June 16 and 26. Flt. Lt. Jerry Rawlings in his June 30, 1979 broadcast had this to say;

"Seven years in office the Army was going back to barracks without any steps having been taken to punish those who had tarnished the name of the Armed Forces. This situation posed a threat to the continued existence of the Armed Forces and the stability of the country, hence the spontaneous action of the June 4 to pre-empt a coup immediately after handover to a civilian administration......"

The June 30 broadcast was to explain, rationalise or even justify the gruesome murder of the top brass of army officers including Afrifa, Acheampong, Utuka and Feli some of whom had taken on civilian lives and were even seeking representation in parliament on the tickets of the parties participating in the impending elections.

If indeed June 4 was to end all coup d'etats in Ghana as Chairman Rawlings of the AFRC proclaimed why he did come back through the same means only 27months after handing over to a civilian rule on September 24, 1979 is a puzzle readers would have to answer.

The daring Emeritus Professor of Chemistry turned biographer had the following to say of Mr Rawlings and December 31 on page 109 of 630 page Hilla Limann, Scholar, Diplomat, Statesman:

"Many commentators on Ghana, particularly foreign ones, have always attributed selfless democratic credentials to Rawlings by saying that he overthrew a military government and then peacefully ushered the country into democratic rule. THIS IS ABSOLUTE RUBBISH AND FAR FROM THE TRUTH. On the contrary, he was literally dragged into power by Captain Boakye Djan, Major Mensah Poku and Captain Baa Achamfour on June 4, 1979, following his own amateurish and botched-up attempt to seize power on May 15. This was just two weeks prior to general elections that were being supervised the then military government led by General Akuffo, the programme for which had started about a year earlier."

Again, the claim that June 4 was a revolution is questioned by the fearless former chief Scribe of the People's National Party on whose ticket Dr Limann won the 1979 elections. Indeed the AFRC added to the mess created by the preceding military adventurists of the NRC, SMC I and SMC II. The author extensively quotes Kofi Batsa's The Spark – From Nkrumah to Limann:

After eight years of military rule, Ghana's situation was desperate. International credit had been suspended and trade was at standstill. Nothing was working whether in the commercial sector or in Government. The people were demoralized and brow-beaten by inflation and fearsome economic and social problems that go with it. The Civil Service was demoralized by the bullying of the military and without motivation, direction or indeed equipment. When we (the PNP) took over the President's office after the elections there was nothing. All the typewriters had been stolen, for example and while I went to London to buy essential equipment with Party funds, the President's office borrowed a typewriter from the Ministry of Education. We were starting the machine that had lain idle for a long time, and in reality none of us knew whether we could get it going or not."

TNF poses the most important question; which revolution engages in thievery and petty theft?

One reason TNF learns from the work of Addae-Mensah, was used for the overthrow of the PNP by Rawlings and PNDC, was the "removal of Government subsidies on fuel. This was done and a sinking fund set up to manage fuel price increases in a manner that would not unduly affect the ordinary Ghanaian, and also not put unnecessary financial pressure on the Tema Oil Refinery."

He continues on page 128 thus; "Ironically this policy, which contributed to the reasons adduced by Rawlings to overthrow the Government (of PNP in December 1981), was eventually fully implemented from 2003, twenty two years after the overthrow of the Limann administration, after the Tema Oil Refinery had accumulated so much debt under the PNDC/NDC administrations leading to the near-collapse of the refinery, and the near-bankrupting of the biggest creditor Bank, Ghana Commercial Bank."

Limann's biographer, perhaps the first biographer so far asks; "Where would we have been by now with our energy policies if Limann's policies on the fuel subsidies and subsequent deregulation had been given the chance to run their full course?"