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Opinions of Monday, 13 June 2011

Columnist: Yeboah, Kwame

Oh No, Captain Baah-Achamfour

Oh No, Captain Baah-Achamfour:

Release Of Rawlings Was Central To The June Fourth Operation

I have read with shock and sorrow, the pronouncement by Captain Baah-Achamfour that he has regretted taken part in the operation that freed Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings from the cells of BNI and from eminent execution during the June Fourth operation. As one of the few officers during the operation, I hope he has not forgotten the time tested adage that no officer leaves a captured man on the field during a war. Captain, how are you going to tell the men under you that because you disagree with the politics of the rescued soldier during civilian life in retirement, it would have been fine to have left the captured soldier to die on the field?

You embody the contradictions that constituted the personalities of people who were involved in the uprising and that is not strange since June fourth was an UPRISING but not a long term planned operation of like-minded people. This contradiction is not peculiar to the leadership but manifested itself in the general population even up to now. That is why, it was okay for some people to end their participation at the end of the AFRC regime and some continued into 31st December, 1981.

You are not alone in expressing misgivings on the wisdom of the overthrow of the ‘democratically’ elected PNP government and the debate on the essence of that exercise will continue among Ghanaians and students of history for a long time. But no commander of the system will go to the extent of openly expressing regret for participating in the release of Jerry John Rawlings on the 4th of June, 1979. This is because apart from rescuing the captured officer, his release was the single most important operation and the core objective of the whole exercise.

Rawlings by his actions on May 15th and subsequent pronouncements during his try had become the rallying point for the mobilization of the people to support the objectives of the uprising. By the atmosphere generated in the country during the preceding students’ demonstration and during his arrest and trial, his release had become the rallying cry to the change the uprising called for. Apart from the men who served directly under you, nobody else in the country knew you. Were you going to just move to the broadcasting house to announce the overthrow of the very government Rawlings had attempted earlier to remove without him? Were you going to ignore the cry of the people and support he had built and which you needed so badly for the operation? What were the main reasons why you agreed to make him the chairman of the AFRC? Why did you sideline Captain Boakye Gyan and picked Rawlings? I believe it was the best decision at that time and in light of the circumstances, a spokesperson position was enough for Captain Boakye Gyan.

For over twenty years, people of Ghana and particularly those of us who were involved in the June Fourth and 31st December revolution have been reflecting and discussing the process. Not everybody agrees with every action but we are all united in our acceptance that Ghana has been moved forward by these two processes. Ghanaians are no more refugees and beggars spread across the West African sub-region and those at home are not queuing for toilet rolls. We have become a true constitutional democracy with real base of people’s power as manifested in the participation in unit committees, district assemblies and multi-party political system, something that would have never happened without 31st December revolution. June 4th was only the opportunity for the people to shout, cry out and do a house cleaning. As it was shown during Liman’s regime, Ghana went back to the business as usual and June fourth did not change the status quo and mentality of the ruling class after you returned to barracks. 31st December was a needed long process to demolish the oppressive state apparatus and to set the people free to collectively build a truly democratic system that will revolve around them and ensure accountability and integrity of the system. June 4th never changed one single item on the manifestos of the political parties; neither did it change their leadership and ideologies. What it did was to show the “stick” of the people to the ruling classes of the country and made it abundantly clear that we were prepared to use it if they did not change their ways. But it did not actually put power in the hands of the ordinary people. Revolutions that enable the building of nations that have full participation of all classes of people and sectors of the country are not a three-month event. It demands a gradual removal of the oppressive superstructure of state apparatus and establishment of a peoples’ party that will serve as the rallying point for the mobilization of and channeling of the people’s collective will to achieve their aspirations. That is the only safeguard for the people. It is not and has never been a single event no matter how useful the event was. June fourth was the second stage of the declaration of independence on the 6th March 1957. What was needed after that was a long period of building a nation to the specification and aspirations of the people to ensure true freedom.

I know that you and many people will disagree with me on this and I am not surprised by that since the disagreement of the essence of 31st December is not new and very contentious and we can continue to debate on that until history becomes the final judge. So it is okay to agree to disagree and see Rawlings who was the architect of the process in a new light after June fourth. What I am not happy about are pronouncements and loose talks about the core actions of the June fourth operation. That is the freeing of Jerry John Rawlings from detection and preventing his subsequent execution and from that the removal of the Acheampong/Akuffo regime to pave the way for the house cleaning exercises that followed. Many good soldiers and innocent people died in these processes. Some of it due to genuine mistakes committed during the process, some of it due to circumstances beyond our control but very many of it due to certain reactionary decisions and actions of cadres who thought they knew all and who felt they were more revolutionary than the process. Some people suffered unnecessary and still have pain in their hearts. What cadres who participated in the system will have to do is to accept the genuine mistakes and endeavor to ensure that they are things of the past during this democratic dispensation. What is not needed is to question the honorable actions of people who participated in the process.

Captain, remember you are not the only person who participated in the process. Remember also that very many good soldiers under you and a whole lot of others after you gave their all including the ultimate sacrifice of their life to get us this far. You cannot and should not create the impression that the actions of these heroes were in vain. The release of Rawlings on June 4th 1979 was a very important and heroic action and should not be demeaned by loose talk.

Captain, these heroes deserve an apology.

Kwame Yeboah

Harding University College of Pharmacy

Searcy, Arkansas. USA