The first successful coup in Ghana is thought to be the February 24, 1966 event which overthrew the dictator, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. In truth, it was not the first. The first successful coup was a process of constitutional coup against the good people of Ghana. It was when the Supreme Law of the country was abducted and made to serve one man, and only one man, Kwame Nkrumah, and not the people.
No one could dare to say anything uncomplimentary about him and his government and hope to see the morning sunrays making their silent entry through his/her windows.
As if that was not enough, no traditional leader could be enstooled/enskinned or destooled/deskinned without Nkrumah giving approval. Members of Parliament were appointed and not elected, and the judiciary was subdued and made to only and always sing from the song sheets Nkrumah provided.
As if these were not enough, humans made Nkrumah an immortal who even challenged the divinity of Jesus Christ. Of course, with a god among us, Nkrumah was made president for life, and Ghana went under a one-party state in 1964.
Anyone who challenged the unconstitutional laws found themself in prison if they failed to reach the borders in time. Even some top members of the ruling Convention People’s Party (CPP) who fell foul were not spared.
So, we had a Ghana with the motto, Freedom and Justice, but with no freedom and no justice.
Ghanaians were stuck without a choice to change leadership, and things grew from bad to worse. It is also very astonishing to behold how people kowtowed to Nkrumah, revered him with such adoration and fear that was to be reserved only for God. To this day, over fifty years after he was thrown out of power and had died, some people still fear and adore him, and would never say anything wrong about him.
During his time, children were brainwashed to regard Nkrumah higher than God. Kids were told to pray under trees with their eyes shut and ask God for sweets, when the goodies do not come, they were asked to do same and this time ask Nkrumah for sweets. Presto, the sweets would pour down like rain, through the help of someone hidden in the trees. God was not believed anymore.
These little ones who were members of the Young Pioneers, the children’s wing of the CPP, were made to spy on their parents and report any one of them who uttered, but a word against Nkrumah, his appointees and/or his government. This effectively broke down the family fabric, the most important component of society.
Then the only option left was to overthrow the bad constitution, and, of course, its regime, which denied the rights and sovereignty of the people. So the military set in, and it was not about the weakness of the economy and the attendant gross corruption, but largely because Nkrumah had started interfering with that institution, making political dismissals to cower the armed personnel to his whims and caprices. He set up his own special forces called the Presidential Guards, who were better catered for and more equipped than the regular armed forces.
Coups are not the ideal options to change governments, but, under the circumstances in Ghana at that time, the February 24, 1966 coup was a coup that toppled a constitutional coup and the National Liberation Council (NLC) took over affairs of state. Many CPP government appointees were investigated on corruption charges and other social malfeasances, and those found guilty were jailed.
The NLC handed over to a constitutionally elected government, the Progress Party (PP), on October 1, 1969.
Then on January 13, 1972, a Colonel in the Ghana Army, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, led a coup that toppled the Busia administration and restored military rule under the National Redemption Council (NRC). It was one coup Nkrumah rejoiced over, since, according to him, the socialist boys were back. The real motive of the coup could not have been corruption and financial malfeasance, but mainly out of envy, for Acheampong said he felt like overthrowing the civilian government since the day Busia was sworn into office.
He later went on, with support from some generals, to stage a palace coup and removed all the majors who directly helped him overthrow the PP government. On October 9, 1975, the Supreme Military Council (SMC 1) was formed, and Acheampong was promoted from colonel to general and made Chairman and continued to be Head of State.
Another palace coup, this time, toppling Acheampong, was successfully staged with General Akuffo as Chairman and Head of State. SMC II laid down the structures to return the country to civilian rule.
Everything was set for a peaceful transition when the most unnecessary coup struck. The June 4, 1979 Revolution, led by an airman, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, came with strong promises of doing a complete house-cleaning to get rid of corruption, financial malfeasance, social injustice and all other vices. The newly-formed Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) announced that June 4 was the coup to end all coups and make it a disincentive for others who would want to stage a coup. All who, at one point of their lives, had overthrown a constitutional government were given the capital punishment.
To make the mere mention of the word corruption very unattractive, Rawlings had some of the generals shot at the stakes for crimes which included legally accessing loans from the bank to build a house.
On September 24, 1979, Rawlings and the army bid what was supposed to be the final farewell to military rule, but this was where the great deception was unveiled. On December 31, 1981, Rawlings struck again going against his own promise. He toppled the civilian government of the day, the People’s National Party (PNP), led by Dr. Hilla Limann, on charges of gross corruption.
He was not able to put on trial, or even jail any of the civilian government appointees on corruption charges.
After nineteen years, of which in between he became a civilian leader after having yielded to pressure to return this country to constitutional rule, from January 7, 1993. Rawlings finally had no option but to bow out after ruling for the maximum two terms as president.
Since January of 1993, Ghana has enjoyed over a quarter of a century of civilian rule. Even though in the eyes of many, the 1992 Constitution needed serious amendments to make it a worthy working document to govern this nation, others suggested that a complete new constitution should be written for the ushering in of the Fifth Republic. Ghana has managed to make some strides in governance. As a nation, we have come to respect the law which mandates us to freely decide on who should rule us.
The constitutional coup during the first regime after independence was a process, beginning with the passage of the Preventive Detention Act of 1959 to the Declaration of a One Party State and Life Presidency for Nkrumah in 1964, which was truly the first coup. February 24 came to restore the people’s mandate and sovereignty, and to a large extent, was a necessary evil. January 13 was staged to fulfil someone’s desire to be a leader of the nation. October 9 and July 5 were just coups to confuse the people, since nothing actually changed. June 4 was a great deception and December 31 was a grand betrayal.
Ever since the new New Patriotic Party (NPP) regime of Nana Addo’s administration took over governance of this country, some elements within the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) had decided not to rest on their oars. As expected of opposition parties, the NDC are quick to look out for any mistake in the NPP government. But in all instances, it rather created the problems and watched on for the NPP to fall in the trap before raising alarms.
Two serious cases are: 1) when the NDC declassified the Gitmo terrorists, making them refugees, and went further on to change their names and got one of them a Ghanaian wife. These measures made it impossible to deport them, and the NDC had a field day on this subject, telling Ghanaians how insincere the NPP was to the plight of Ghana, and 2) when the NDC on, at least four occasions in 1998, 2000, 2012 and 2015, sold our sovereignty to the US in a non-transparent manner, and now turning the people against the NPP when it decided to make public what the NDC had done in secret.
As if they are not tired of unnecessary coups, it was revealed by a top NDC officer that this socialist party is seriously plotting to overthrow this regime and constitution on January 13, 2019. The braggart among the NDC was bold to say he, Koku Anyidoho, did not regret about his revelation, because maybe he is anticipating becoming the chief of staff in the next military dictatorship, come January 2019. And in all this, the NDC has not come out to condemn Koku’s revelations, but only distanced itself. The reason? He spoke too soon.
The legend of coups continues, as the socialists are at it again.
Hon. Daniel Christian Dugan