You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 10 12Article 476710

Opinions of Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Columnist: George Sydney Abugri

Pardon me, sir, if I sound like Mr Rawlings

Former President John Rawlings Former President John Rawlings

By George Sydney Abugri

Of all the military and civilian heads of our mighty republic since independence, one intrigued me the most: The late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong who together with several other military officers was shot at the stakes in the heat of the June 4 uprising.

The late Acheampong was sometimes the butt of unfair jibes and sour jokes. There was this one about how the microphones picked up those unwitting words allegedly whispered in Akan to a colleague after the man had given a speech at a traditional durbar and resumed his seat on the dais:

“Boy, it is when I have had a really good glass of something that my capacity for grand oratory cuts a sharp edge.”

There were those who took note of his alleged philandering ways and others who thought his administration saw corruption in Ghana peak unprecedented heights with cheating traders ripping off already starving public servants so heartlessly that the nation coined the now long forgotten term “kalabule” to describe the phenomenon.

Yet, Achemapong showed a surprising concern for the welfare of the people. Following the launch of his famous Operation Feed yourself Programme we saw doctors, top public servants, lawyers, housewives, teachers and other professionals growing food crops and vegetables all over the place-in backyard gardens and on farms

If I recall correctly, crop and livestock production, registered annual growth rates of between five and seven percent during his regime. He started irrigation projects for rice and vegetable cultivation at Tono in the Upper Region, Dawhenya, Okyereko and Nkrontrodu near Elmina, and started a scheme for the purchase of farmers’ rice following significant increases in the production of the crop under the OFY programme.

He set up a Regional Development Corporation in each of the country’s regions and gave each region several hundred million cedis for the next three years to promote agriculture, industry and commercial businesses.

Dr K.A. Busia, who was overthrown by Acheampong, had devalued the cedi before his exit. To deal with the resultant economic hardship on us, Achemapong revalued the cedi by more than 40 per cent.

We public servants continued to grumble nonetheless, so he gave us a Cost of Living Allowance [COLA} apart from our wages, to help us deal with basic kenkey and fish issues, see? It may not have been perfect but that is what I call pro-people development planning, Jomo.

J.J Rawlings’s casual, down-to-earth, I-am-in-the-trench-with-you-buddies disposition and his apparent commitment to improving the lives of the rural population has been commended by some and passed off as a grand populist act by others. The important thing is to be seen placing the welfare to the people at the top of the national agenda.

In executing his political agenda, Nkrumah associated with the Veranda Boys {the mass of the ordinary people} and his socialist credentials were too obvious to be in doubt. How pro-people were Dr. Limann and Mr. Kufour. How pro-people is Mills’s?

A pro-people government will not ony feed the people who voted it into power but will also protect them. Large sections of the population are unemployed, poor hungry, discouraged and live in constant fear for their lives: The daily mass slaughter of people on our highways and the hair-raising brushes with death on city roads are frightening. Then there is the huge army of killer robbers on the brazen loose.

The cost of a university education has become so prohibitive that a budding young genius from a socially disadvantaged or impoverished social background, stands as much chance of upward social mobility as the morose cobbler down the road who dropped out of primary school two decades ago, stands of becoming Ghana’s next president.

Take an audit of successful and law firms in town and you will notice that but for a few exceptions involving exceptionally brilliant individuals from socially disadvantage backgrounds who managed to break the norm, most are run by lawyers whose ancestors had themselves been lawyers or wealthy and powerful individuals.

When you are done with the law firms go on to the largest indigenously-owned business companies.

Take a hard look at the individuals who today are either at the headship of political parties or are seeking political power and you will find that many are descendants of people who played active roles in the politics of our mighty republic.

In other words, it is the same generational line of people which has maintained a firm grip on the nation’s businesses sector, intellectual resources and capital and political power and have developed a system which keeps out potential intruders from other social backgrounds. Yet they have consistently only taken care of themselves while paying lip service to our welfare.

We the people must find a way of really taking control of lives. There must be a revolution and for heaven’s sake, a revolution need not be violent or bloody. It can be very peaceful and positive.

The only way we can take the power that belongs to us, is to mount a mass movement and an agitation for an equitable redistribution of the nation’s resources and opportunities for all without discrimination.