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Opinions of Thursday, 26 July 2007

Columnist: Ackah, Abena Pokuaa Atuahene

Professor Akosa Is certainly Not Confused

This is in response to Mr. K. Mensah Bonsu’s article in the Daily Graphic Monday, July 2, 2007, Issue No. 150089 describing Professor Akosa as a confused person. Indeed, it is the latter whose intellectual dishonesty has led him to produce such an article which is pregnant with distorted facts and without any gratitude to the founder of this nation Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP government. We will evaluate a number of issues raised in his article:
“Ghana certainly was not an industrialized country by any economic criteria. The country was far from the take-off stage to industrialization. We had, of course, established some industries which had their own inherent problems”
By this assertion, Mr. K Mensah Bonsu perhaps has his own definition about how an industrialized nation should begin and the economic criteria he deems fit for industrial take-off. For Osagefo his dream was to change Africa for good and he set aside Ghana as an example for the rest of Africa to follow. He recognized the need for the survival of the African continent and contended that it is only African unity that can advance the continent. In his book Africa must unite, he affirmed that “In the industrial sphere, our aim has been to encourage the establishment of factories where we have a natural advantage in local resources and labor, or where we can produce essential commodities required for development or for domestic consumption. During 1961, over 60 new factories were opened in the country. Among them were a distillery, a coconut oil factory, a brewery, a milk-processing plant, and a lorry and bicycle plant. In addition, agreements were signed for a large modern oil refinery, an iron and steel works, a flour mill, sugar, textile and cement factories. For unless we attain economic freedom, our struggle for independence would have been in vain and our plans for social and cultural advancement frustrated”
The list of factories that were established in addition to the aforementioned were as follows: The Jute Factory - Ghana imports a lot of jute sacks and it was cheaper to produce it locally even if we had to import the raw materials. Rubber plantations were established and individuals were encouraged to establish rubber plantations. Rubber plantations are good for a forestation and timber industry. The Bonsa Tyre Industry was established. We started producing tyres before Brasil, Korea and others; they are now major producers and exporters. A shoe factory, a glass factory, a tyre factory, a meat processing factory, two canneries for fruits and tomatoes, a chocolate factory, the Daboase Paper Processing Industry, Food Processing Industry, Tema Steel Industry, a Radio and TV assembly Plant, a Gold Processing factory which was abandoned after his overthrow and many others were all established and firmly grounded in this country. In addition to building the huge Hydro-electric plant at Akosombo, Osagyefo established the energy commission for the exploration of nuclear, solar and wind energy to generate electricity and also commenced the building of the Bui dam for which the Russians had brought down their machines at the time of the coup d’etat. He developed a lot of infrastructural projects, built the motor way from Accra to Tema which was only few years younger than Britain’s stretch of motorway. Sadly after his overthrow his plans for “Golden Triangle” of motorways to linkup the major cities and towns of Ghana were shelved by the military junta, on the advice of an IMF team that visited the country soon after the coup (An IC publication New African Magazine). Tema Habour and Tema Industrial complex city was supposed to be an economic industrial enclave with excellent facilities to attract foreign and local investors to the place. We started this before Singapore, Malaysia, China and Vietnam. Now they have all managed to attract huge investments whereas Ghana lost thrust after the 1966 coup. A lot of countries have benefitted from this concept. All these industries were strategically meant to develop Ghana in a more comprehensive form. At the time, individuals could not have established them due to lack of capital and entrepreneurial capability. All the factories were sighted at appropriate locations where raw materials could be found to feed these factories and gave employment to the people. The creation of the Ghana, Guinea, and Mali alliance was meant to expand the market for the advancement of Ghana’s industrial programme. We could not have waited to go round the world begging foreigners to come and invest. We needed to start our national development ourselves. Osagyefo was building a welfare state which considers human resource as most vital. Some of the industries were to be run by the state and gradually divested to local investment consortium or investors. Nkrumah did not rule out the benefits of foreign investment thus the Tema Industrial complex, but he also believed in developing local capabilities. His speech at the commissioning of the Atomic Commission, outlines his programme for the Commission, UST and Agriculture in Ghana. The industries were set up using state funds, and so for a tradition that claimed most of the intelligentsia it would have been easier to form better competent management to ensure that the industries survived. But of course the neo colonialist mentality was to ensure that the industries collapsed while their paymasters supplied Ghana with their finished goods. It is this behaviour that has landed us thus far. Under the nine years rule of Nkrumah 68 state enterprises and 100 industries were distributed across the country which brought employment to the people of this nation. Each industry employed between 250-1000 persons per industry putting about 25,000-100,000 Ghanaians in employment. Each person employed automatically took care of 5-10 people, an action that is synonymous with our traditional principles. Each industry also has a gestation period of about five years and none of these industries even used the abundance of raw materials. It is only Mr. K Mensah Bonsu who by his economic standards thinks investments must start yielding profits from year one without acknowledging that the real return on investment come about after some years. Indeed, the industries did not only solve the unemployment of this country but also impacted positively on the social development of the people of this nation. Under Nkrumah Ghana had a continental radio station that broadcasted throughout Africa and beyond. The objective was to facilitate the African liberation struggle. Nkrumah developed infrastructural projects by opening up Ghana with new roads housing and telephone services. Those days it was possible for one to phone from village post offices. Ghana Airways was booming and at the time of the coup, there were about 15 Russian planes that had been acquired for Ghana Airways. They were sitting on the Tarmac yet to be taken over by Ghana Airways. That could have made Ghana Airways the biggest carrier in Africa. At that time there were few national carriers in Africa. Ghana could have firmly secured the African market. We missed the opportunity and since then Ghana Airways has never made it. In the field of education, he built secondary schools, technical schools, training colleges through out the country, some of which have turned into universities; built three universities; two from the scratch and one (university of Ghana) was expanded to a befitting status giving it a medical school for which he used local personnel in establishing and within a matter of 10 years turned out to be one of the best medical schools in the world. Nkrumah declared free education to ensure that every Ghanaian gets access to education and free medical care which made Ghana the icon of Africa.
Perhaps Mr. Mensah Bonsu who must have been a young adult must have known how Ghana was after over 150 years of British Rule. Ghana had very few primary and secondary schools, clinics which was the reserve of the colonial administrative workers and a few of the elite who towed their line. Our railway system and road network were to serve in exploitative interest of the colonial authority. Employment Opportunities for Ghanaians were limited. It is clear that the opposition never believed that Osagyefo could achieve so much from 1957 to 1966 that they really did not accept the achievement and set out to dismantle his works immediately after his overthrow. For Osagyefo to have provided almost full employment for every Ghanaian desirous of working was a master stroke of pure ingenuity.
Mr. K Mensah Bonsu also wrote that before 1966 the Golden Age of Ghana had vanished and that the country had become a one-party state with a Life President with the party flag replacing the national flag. It is worth asking of him to produce the period he describes as the Golden Age of Ghana. I dare it better not be colonial era. Certainly not. He proceeded to say that “There was much disillusionment and discontent in Ghana. The country had entered on its independence with a comfortable reserve of some £220 million” Let us examine this statement:
We must emphasize that Ghana became independent after World War 11. Britain had gone into a period of depression and economic break down. So did all the countries involved in the war. Indeed, it was the inability of the British to pay the amount due the Ghanaian soldiers who fought in the war that resulted in the nasty shooting which took away the lives of Sgt. Adjetey, Cpl. Atipoe and private Odarteng. Britain after the Second World War was bankrupt and had approached America for a loan of $8billion. Keynes presented the argument but came back with only $4billion and this is indicative that Britain was not in the state to give Ghana £200 million. In any case over the 150 years why did they fail to develop this country? This is because the whole essence of colonialism was to take all goods away for their benefit. It therefore really begs that Ghanaians can only imagine that the £200 million prudently saved by Osagyefo and the CPP between 1951 and 1957 can be attributed as a gift from UK.
As the leader of government business, Osagyefo halted the wholesale flight of capital from the country and together with the savings from cocoa prices in 1954 and beyond led to the handsome sum of £200 million that began Ghana’s development and industrialization. Nkrumah contributed $35 million out of £70 million needed for the Akosombo Dam, Tema Township and the motorway and got external support for the remainder. It is explicit that Osagyefo did more and beyond this £200 million he managed to save and he demonstrated a lot of wisdom in putting every penny for the productive development of this nation. Let us ask ourselves that after Nkrumah there has been so much inflow of money into the system both from Donor support and other sources as well as internally generated funds and one will ask what we have been able to achieve so far that compares to what Osagyefo did for this country.
We will also give a holistic examination of the one party state and how it even came into existence. Nkrumah at no point became Life President. Indeed the one party state came into being through popular voting in a referendum which was heavily patronized. In 1964, there were 3,000,000 eligible voters out of a population nearing 7,500,000. A hooping 2,605,685 representing 86.85% voted yes as against 2,452 representing only 0.08%. This was unprecedented in the history of this nation. Clearly the people of Ghana chose to opt for the one party state, not to make Nkrumah Life President. Otherwise, there would not have been the need for the decision by the Central Committee of the CPP to nominate Nkrumah on Saturday, May 29, 1965 as the President of the Republic.
We must recall the behaviour and the attitude of the opposition that led to the need for the one party system. Right from the day Nkrumah declared the Motion of Destiny every effort was made to forestall him. K.B Quantson in his book Bogus Informants puts it better; “there can be little doubt that Kwame Nkrumah was the founder of Ghana” Come to think of it, at the time, the opposition parties even boycotted the “Motion of Destiny” for independence in parliament. They claimed, inter alia, that the country was not ready for parliamentary democracy. Some of them even toured Europe and United States to campaign against the immediate granting of independence and to scuttle any plans for economic and financial assistance to the nation”.
Isn’t it ironic that the people who advocated for selective rule, privileged class, and enemies of one man one vote would turn round to accuse Nkrumah of denying the people so much power? Interestingly, the same tradition when had power in 1969 through the assistance of the NLC rather used an incomprehensible percentage of the electorate to elect a President and justify by constitutional jargons. That is how Busia was Prime minister and Akuffo Addo was President. The democrats indeed!
Not only did the opposition attack the usage of the Prime minister’s head on our new currency, they actually insisted that “Put Queen’s Head On Our coins” Clearly these people were not in anyway ready to take this nation out of the shackles of colonialism. If Britain had their leader’s head on their currency, what stopped Ghana? Again it is obvious that the opposition could not stand the head of Osagyefo being on our currency, the founder of this nation.
Above all these were uncountable attempts to physically eliminate the President and clandestinely overthrow the sovereignty of Ghana. A few examples of them will help refresh the memories of older K. Mensah Bonsu as well as inform the younger generation of the true history of Ghana. There was an attempted coup as early as 1958 a year after the independence. The opposition was characterized with opposing for the sake of opposition and it is really not surprising that even though Professor Akosa’s article was on National Interest and national agenda, a leading member of NPP could not appreciate the essence and import of the article.
On 01/08/62 there was a bomb blast at Kulungugu dabbed “Kulungugu bomb”. A Dozen was killed including five children, two mothers and hundreds injured. Weekly Spectator issue July 29, 1972 with the caption “VIOLENCE – THAT IS BUSIA’S CUP OF TEA”. It affirmed that “Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia will find a place in the pages of history, but it will certainly not be on the list of men to remember for their contribution to civilization or human progress. In one year alone, 1962, in pursuit of his ambitions, Busia directed the mass bombing campaign from Accra to Kulungugu in which at least a dozen persons, including 5 children and two mothers were killed and several hundreds injured – many of them maimed for life” On 09/09/62 there was another bomb blast, three people were killed and several hundreds injured at Dodowa Villas. On 20/09/62, there was another bomb blast one girl killed and several wounded at Lucas House. On 6/11/62, there was another bomb blast two children injured at Chorkor. On 20/09//62, there was another bomb blast and one girl was killed and several people wounded at Flagstaff House. On 08/01/63 there was another bomb blast and 5 were killed and 85 people wounded at Accra Sports Stadium. On 22/01/63 Tieko Tagoe arrested carrying a bomb at Bukom Square. Dr. JB Danquah was seriously engaged with the CIA to subvert Ghana “his beloved”. What a patriot he was?
Even with the support of the colonial masters they still could not break the will of the people. Why did the opposition oppose Kwesi Plange’s attempt to reduce voting age from 25 years to 21 years? Indeed, the opposition knew that the youth of this country had bought into the ideals of Osagyefo and therefore power will be far fetched if they did not disrupt the process. We can go on and on about the atrocities meted on Osagyefo by the opposition. We will without missing words describe Mr. K Mensah Bonsu and his tradition as the latter-day democrats who failed to accept the will of the majority in 1951, 1954, 1956, 1960 elections and whose inordinate desire to win power by all means necessary had to resort to violence and extreme provocation.
If the opposition had believed in participatory democracy and had been interested in the welfare of the people of Ghana and not be parochial in their thinking and actions and had not resorted to terrorism in order to frighten Ghanaians and their Charismatic leader, of course the story would have been different. For Osagyefo, every action was calculated to advance the course of the nation and its people. No wonder he died in poverty. Ghana’s history has been written by people to serve their own interest and even though they know the truth have always exhibited academic dishonesty, Mr. Mensah Bonsu is rarely no exception. Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had devoted his entire life for all Ghanaians and rather than the likes of Mr. Mensah Bonsu and his people appreciate the selflessness and total devotion of Osagyefo to the advancement of Ghana, they will continue to muddy the history of this country.
Nobody, not even the CPP could nominate Osagyefo as the Black Personality of the Millennium but it was to be because indeed he was. The man who in 2000 was voted by the BBC’s listeners as “The African of the century”, and in 2004 by New African World Wide Readers as the second greatest African ever lived, there is no doubt that Ghanaians must be proud of such a great son. Not Danquah, not Busia, not Obetsebi Lamptey, not Akufo Addo, and not Ofori Atta could come any closer. It is a fact that has been borne out by Ghana’s 50th anniversary celebration and attested to by independent minded Ghanaians and non Ghanaians, and the AU meeting has indeed crowned all of that. Nkrumah is indeed great and that makes the Mensah Bonsu pail into insignificance.
If Mr. Mensah Bonsu and his ilk do not see the good in Nkrumah, having benefited from his policy to make you what you are today, Professor Akosa does. And for Akosa who appreciates a true nation builder and leader, he surely cannot be confused.



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