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James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr Writes: February 24, 1966 - The lessons not learnt


1 years ago
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Friday, February 24, 2023 marked exactly 57 years since the first brutal maiming of a Ghana under construction on Friday, February 24, 1966. It was a brutal and reckless maiming without much thinking because its sponsors, architects and supporters failed to look at in its real terms as the;

  1. Overthrow of the 1st Republican Constitution, 1960 as amended in 1964.
  2. Closure of the 1st Republican Parliament and suspension of parliamentary practice.
  3. Overthrow of the Executive Sovereign Will of the People under the barrel of the gun.
  4. Usurpation of the Sovereign Will of the People to choose who to govern and how to be governed. 

As it were, and unfortunately still thought of by a stubbornly unrelenting few, it was about the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah and his indomitable CPP. Period! Yes, Kwame Nkrumah was the problem and he was gone! However, only less than six years after the excuse of a disaster, on exactly January 13, 1972, another act of impunity followed the terrible example sadly set. 

The major beneficiary of the cruel coup visited on Ghanaians six years before, Prof. K. A. Busia and the Second Republican Constitution, 1969 were ousted on 13th January, 1972. Traitor Acheampong exclaimed; “The malpractices which existed before 1966 are still with us and there was no prospect of seeing an end of them” as the cause of the military takeover.

Some 27 years after the 1966 overthrow and its justification by persons of the UP tradition including late Prof K.A Busia, its successor party, NPP in 1993 went to the Supreme Court to describe the overthrow as wrong, “illegal”, unconstitutional and a dangerous precedence. The Malawian proverb; “cows are trapped by their horns, men, by the words” was in display.

In 1978, there was the military shakeup which ousted Colonel Acheampong and replaced him with General Akuffo. His regime was also violently ousted on June 4, 1979 in the counter coup d’etat that reluctantly handed over power on 24th September. Crime knows no law or ends. So came the ousting of Dr. Hilla Limann and the 3rd Republic on December 31, 1981.    

For nearly 11 years, the PNDC ruled this country with iron fists, impunity, murder, thievery and a lazy appreciation of power as a position of privilege instead of responsibility. There was no accountability from those who had stolen the word ‘accountability’ as a mantra. They acted as they pleased only to yield to international pressure and a reawakened national consciousness. 

From December 31, 1981 to January 6, 1993 for about 11 years, the claimant apostles of probity, accountability and transparency aggravated, without shame or honour, the dark days in Ghana. The PNDC maimed, disempowered and brutally assaulted every fabric of society to deceptively metamorphose into the monstrous election machine, NDC to perpetuate its unruliness.


Congenial sycophancy

The Constitution, 1992 turned 30 years on January 7, 2023. For the period we have had 8 presidential and parliamentary elections producing 5 Presidents but 8 Parliaments. Largely, these elections have been dominated and won by the two dominant parties, NDC and NPP. From the beginnings, there was a marked difference between the two. However, congenial sycophancy has blurred any difference there was, and now it appears for both, it is just about power or position.

As Kwame Nkrumah, himself, observed, one positive lesson of 24th February, 1966 was the exposure of the sycophancy and hypocrisy of the many a member of the CPP. He had “for long the gravest doubts about many of those in leading positions” in the Party. He argued that they “failed to understand the political and social purposes of the State” rendering it defective. 

Today, there are many in both NDC and NPP or other political groupings no matter how insignificant who have no idea of any political, social, economic and spiritual purpose. For such group of persons, it is enough to belong to the “Party in Power” as if we elect parties rather than candidates sponsored by parties. Worse of all is the unreadiness of political parties to change and act right.

Disloyalty and treachery   

Attendant to the congenial sycophancy is the barbaric disloyalty and treachery to the parties and the State. Nkrumah observed here too; “they had no loyalty to the state or the understanding of the social purpose which we were attempting to achieve.” It was therefore “absolutely impossible to utilise a machine which had shown itself so defective of understanding.” 

Most a member of the two political parties that have dominated the 4th Republic, NDC and NPP would say would say; “Me nnya hwee” (I have got nothing). When you probe further, it is about money unworked for. There is no loyalty to any development purpose of the State or the Party vision espoused by its leaders. Sadly, disloyalty is entrenched by its twin, patronage, in impunity.

Corruption and placating 

Corruption was once aptly described by a former President as “mass murder.” I strongly believe that succinct description was a revelation. Three of the gang of mutineers who maimed Ghana eternally, Deku, Harlley, and Ankrah were to be dealt with for various corrupt acts. Thus, the coup saved them from being pursued. In turn, they justified the mutiny with corruption. 

It is noteworthy that Nkrumah acknowledged the prevalence of corruption in the country but added attempts to identify, arrest and curb it. He “personally supervised the direction of criminal investigations against ministers and prominent Party members” which eventually led to the prosecution of a former Minister of Agriculture, F. Y. Asare and Kojo Djaba as accomplice. 

Under the 4th Republic, we have always had a denial of corruption in government circles while it is at same time trumpeted in opposition enclaves. It is denied and when the denial fails, it is defied by cheap rationalisations, and/or equalisations. All these happen amidst scientifically established studies, locally and internationally. It is the case that no one wants to ‘bell the cat.’ 

Distortions with Intolerance

Our politics right from the foundations have been shrouded in distortions. It is a fact that most of the leaders of the nation’s struggle to self-govern meant well. The degree of variation or difference of how well, I cannot tell. However, they differed strongly in the approach to the colonial question. Yet, they allowed their difference to obscure any common interest.

Perhaps, the most effective of them all was the man who had a broader, deeper and better understanding of the colonial question – Kwame Nkrumah. It was his experience from varied backgrounds more than anything that made it possible. This was the one line of departure. However, lies were heaped on each side from the opposite end just win the favour of the people. 

A cursory look at the newspaper cuttings of from the very early days of our nation’s history and what pervades today are essentially the same. We slander and justify or rationalise the lies with additional falsehoods. So, for some 66 years, in the words of Most Rev. Dr. J. S. A. Stephens, a past President of the Methodist Church; we have had the period of: 

“… misinformation and malicious rumour mongering that have earned us a generation who do not know how to appreciate their own greatness and their own achievements. People with weak morals and backward disposition do not read for truth. The monger, and with their mouth, they tear themselves and beloved nation apart, throwing their nation’s legacies to the wind only to gasp for death in poverty.”

We can rise together. We can recreate ourselves. We can refocus the energies of Ghana. We can rally every citizen into a formidable and indomitable national force that will crush the evils within. It will require a total commitment to TRUE CONSENSUS BUILDING THROUGH TOLERANCE AND SINCERITY IN THE FEAR OF GOD. May God be our Help as in ages past and bless Ghana.


*He is a Student-Researcher into Leadership and Disability from Gonja and Asante Cultural Perspectives in Ghana at the School for Development Studies, the University of Cape Coast.


source: James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr