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Opinions of Monday, 17 January 2022

Columnist: Raymond Ablorh

UP - collective struggle for freedom and property-owning democracy

After the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) was passed in 1958, the first group of United Party (UP) people who were arrested were Ga Adangbes; the executives of the Accra Branch of the United Party.

The UP was a convergent platform for all anti-Nkrumah groupings after regional parties were banned by the CPP government. What they had in common was: they were all struggling for freedom from Nkrumah and they believed in Rawl's property-owning democracy.

The group comprised of Bafour Akoto's National Liberation Movement (NLM), Simon Dombo's Northern People's Party (NPP), Modestus Apaalo's Anlo Youth Association (AYA), S.G. Antoh's Togoland Congress (TC), the Moslems Association and Attoh Kwashie's Ga Shifemor kpe. Joseph Boakye Danquah was not a leader of any of these groups even though he was with them.

On 10th December, 1958, the government announced that a group of UP guys named the Zenith Seven (7) had held meetings at Attoh Kwashie's house in Accra to plan the assassination of Kwame Nkrumah, the president, Krobo Edusei, then-Interior Minister and Kofi Baako, the Minister of Information and Broadcasting.

This is how Attoh Okine, Ashie Nikoi, Nai Tete, Dzenkle Dzewu, Oti Ankrah, E.E Brown, K.Y. Attoh, Odartey France, Tetteydia Bonaparte, Narku Annang, Plange Cudjoe, Henry Thompson and all the executives of the Accra Branch of UP were arrested and detained. Attoh Kwashie attempted to escape but his own friend helped to get him arrested.

It is later on 20th December, 1958 that R.R. Amponsah (R.R. Amponsah had moved from CPP to join the UP and was embarking on what he called revelations campaign) and Modestus Apaalo were also arrested for similar offences.

The Government communicated that the two men had approached Major Ahwaitey, Commandant of Giffard Camp in Accra to offer him money with which, to bribe non-commissioned officers to assassinate Nkrumah at the Accra Airport on the occasion of his departure to India.

Before their arrest, earlier in 1957, when the PDA had not been passed, S.G. Antoh and Kojo Ayeke (leaders of Togoland Congress) had been arrested after the Alavanyo riot for fomenting trouble and prosecuted. They were convicted but they appealed and won. This is the last straw that broke the camel's back and got Nkrumah's Attorney General, Geoffrey Binge to propose the PDA.

The Gas, Ewes, Fantses, etc. played a great role just as their Northern, Ashanti, Brong, Akyems and other brothers and sisters in the struggle. The UP has a tradition of collective struggle for freedom and multiparty democracy.

In fact, it is Gas who were first arrested after the Kulungugu bombing. Teiko Tagoe was arrested and he mentioned I.C. Quaye's father, Quaye Mensah, a.k.a Kofi Latrine and his brother Anum Yemo, Adotei Addo, etc. as the people he was working with.

It is instructive to know that when money was in short supply to Quaye Mensah and the men he was doing the grenade operations with and Obetsebi Lamptey who could supply money was in detention, he went to his Bankers and withdrew all the money in his account for the operations. Some of his cattle and those of his brother Anum Yemoh were sold to obtain money to pay the boys for their anti-Nkrumah operations. He even made Ibrahim (I.C. Quaye), his son to obtain an additional loan from a bank for their activities.

Obetsebi Lamptey suffered death because of how he fought Nkrumah. In fact, some political historians believe he was not fully dead when he was put in a coffin at Nsawam prison and sent to Coaltar for burial.

Today, the tradition, principles, values and political norms they all suffered for have been reduced to the Danquah-Busia tradition and recently Dombo has been added. And, some people are now advocating rotational leadership among three blocks of people in a party made up of diverse committed groups who collectively suffered for the actualization of common aspirations.

What happened to the Gas, Ewes and others who sacrificed their lives?

This is not what the Obetsebis, Quaye Mensahs, Attoh Kwashies, etc fought for. Modestus Apaalo, S.G Antoh and Kojo Ayeke did not fight for this. Baffuor Akoto did not fight for this.

They fought for freedom together and did not see any personality or group above others.

Fast forward, in 1992, when the men of the property-owning tradition were re-grouping, Adu Buahen, John Kufuor, Nyaho Tamakloe, Courage Quashiga, Da Rocha, Appiah Menkah, R.R. Amponsah, Issifu Alhassan (Adu Buahen's Vice), Alan Kyeremanten, Afriyie Akoto, Kofi Kye and his father, J.H. Mensah, Attoh Kwashie, Quaye Mensah and his brother Mohammed, etc., never dreamt of the prevailing divisive politics of exclusiveness based on ethnicity.

They believed in talents, loyalty, competence, integrity and patriotism, and never expected a day like this.

There was nothing like a Danquah, Busia and Dombo tradition. And, there was no convention of leadership rotation among these three groups.

What was and is important is competent, trustworthy and reliable leadership. This is the tradition. The choice of Adu Buahen, John Kufuor and Nana Akufo-Addo was not based on Danquah-Busia, otherwise, after Adu Buahen, John Kufuor could not follow since they are both supposed to be Busia. Kufuor followed based on the good reputation and political capital he brought to the table. Same with Nana Akufo-Addo.

The choice of Vice Presidential Candidate followed the same political realities. Prof. Adu Buahen went with Alhaji Roland Issifu Alhassan, an astute lawyer from the Northern part of Ghana. John Kufuor chose Kow Ackaah based on the political reality in the great alliance in 1996 and went with Alhaji Aliu Mahama, the entrepreneurial civil engineer and contractor in 2000.

The choice of Muhammadu Bawumia by Akufo-Addo at the time was a great one. He was not chosen mainly because he is from the Northern part of Ghana nor because he is a Dombo, otherwise, there are many party faithful from the Northern part of Ghana who could be Vice Presidential candidates. He was chosen because he had the reputation needed for the project.

Today, he has lost that aura and citizens do not see him the way they saw him before the 2016 elections. He is now perceived by many a citizen as an impractical economic parrot who only squandered his reputation to enable Akufo-Addo to win the political party. In power, they have done and still continue to supervise the very things they condemned their predecessors for thereby squandering the goodwill and respect citizens had for them and their party.

It does not mean that they have not done anything good. They have. Their predecessors too did something good but still lost favour with the people. Thus, overall, they have disappointed and failed the people. This is why Bawumia must not be imposed on the party in an effort to let a non-Akan lead the party at all costs to address opposition propaganda against the party. If the party did not have to do that for Aliu Mahama who had a better reputation at the time than Bawumia now has, why disunite the party further because of him or his promoters in power?

The UP tradition does not choose leaders based on ethnic groupings and religions. It is therefore not the time for a particular ethnic group or religion.

It is time for a competent leader the people can trust to vote for. A leader who would be considered as reliable by the citizenry. One that has deep roots in the party to unite the party and lead it to victory.

Author: Raymond Ablorh, is an assertive journalist and writer who has contributed thought-provoking articles to Daily Graphic and other media platforms since the year 2000. Email: presidentablorh@gmail.com