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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Corruption And Nepotism Are The Main Legacies Of June 4

Ebo Quansah in Accra
June 4 A1On May 15, 1979, a 31 year-old junior Air Force Officer led six others in a mutiny against the order of the Government of the Supreme Military Council Mark II, a military oligarchy led by Lt-Gen. Frederick William Kwasi Akuffo as Chairman and Head of State of the Republic.
The mutineers were arrested and put on court-marshall. In the thick of proceedings, the leader,
Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, told the tribunal to leave his men alone, on the basis that he bore the sole responsibility for their actions.
Flt-Lt Rawlings justified his action by claiming that official corruption had eroded confidence in the government and tarnished the image of the Armed Forces. The self-imposed leader of the mutineers claimed that Lebanese and Syrian businessmen had hijacked the Ghanaian economy at the expense of indigenous Ghanaians.
The Ghanaian media, led by the Daily Graphic, then edited by Elizabeth Ohene, brought the proceedings to the people, and hard-up Ghanaians instantly discovered a new hero. Many nationals hung on every word from Rawlings.
In the early hours of June 4, 1979, junior officers and other ranks led by then Capt. Kwadwo Boakye Gyan, spirited Flt. Lt. Rawlings from his cells at the then Special Branch headquarters, now the Bureau of National Investigations, to announce the overthrow of the Akuffo regime, and the birth of the 14-man Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
The leader of the mutineers named himself as Chairman of the AFRC, with 14 collaborators. They were Boakye Gyan, Spokesman, Major Mensah Poku, Major Mensah Gbedema, Lt. Com.  H.C. Apaloo, Capt. Kwabena Baah Achamfuor, Warrant Officer Alex Adjei, Corporal Owusu Boateng, Leading Aircraftman John N. Gatsiko, Lance Corporal Ansah Atiemo, Lance Corporal Sarkodie-Addo, Corporal Sheikh Tetteh, Lance Corporal Peter Tasiri, and Private Owusu Adu.
The AFRC purged the leadership of the Armed Forces in the course of which eight top officers, who were in the leadership positions in the toppled administration, were executed. Gen. Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, who had been replaced in a palace coup eleven months before June 4, and Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Utuka, Member of the Supreme Military Council and Commander of the Border Guards at the time, were the first to face the firing squad at the Teshie Military Firing Range.
The extra-judicious murder of the two top officers was telecast live on Ghana Television, and was condemned in Ghana and the international community. But, just as everybody thought the executions had been stopped, six top officers of the Armed Forces were dispatched to their graves at the Teshie Firing Range barely two weeks after the first two officers had been executed.
These executions intensified international outrage, and virtually made Ghana a pariah of the international community. Nigeria, under military strongman Olusegun Obasanjo, refused to sell crude oil on credit to this country.
This worsened the situation for Ghanaian motorists who had to queue for hours on end for petroleum products. Internally, many goods disappeared from shelves in many shops across the country. It followed the new regime’s propensity to forcibly sell goods of traders/businessmen and women at what they called control prices.
As a government, the AFRC was very repressive. Many genuine businessmen were harassed and forced to lose their lives, and their long time investments.  People said to be sympathetic to the previous regimes of Acheampong and Akuffo were targeted and treated with iron hands.
Though the Supreme Court outlawed the public celebration of the event using state resources, somehow, Flt Lt. Rawlings and those who claim to believe in June 4 have always found a way round it to commemorate the event.
During the Kufuor regime, June 4 was banished from the public calendar of events. On the other side of the political divide, the event became a resistance movement that helped to propel the Umbrella back to Government House. The NDC claims in its official documents that the party was born out of the events of December 31, which is itself an extension of the rule of June 4, although the personalities, bar its, leader, were entirely private.
One paradox of June 4 is the claim that it was a house-cleaning exercise and that it was pursued to end all coup d’états. Incidentally, it was the leader of the uprising who pushed through December 31, after he had been retired from the military.
One irony is that the real activists of the uprising do not partake in its commemoration. Today’s commemoration started yesterday, with an important speech to those identified as the cadres of June 4. Former junta head Jerry John Rawlings was scheduled to speak to his followers at his residence at 2:00 p.m., yesterday.
Under the theme ‘Patriotism- Key to Nation-Building,’ the official celebration reaches its climax today, with a route march from the El-Wak Stadium to the Revolutionary Square, where a wreath is expected to be laid to commemorate the passing away of heroes of the so-called revolution.
It is instructive to recall that on the day when the former junta head handed over the reins of government to the incoming President Hilla Limann and his People’s National Party (PNP) administration at the Black Star Square on September  24, 1979, he gave the new government a six-month ultimatum to perform.
Coup watchers suggest that Jerry Rawlings and his cohorts started plotting to overthrow the PNP administration from 1980. When the regime was finally swept away on December 31, 1981, not many political connoisseurs were surprised at the turn of events.
The only surprising thing was the intensity of its persecution of the business class. Like the AFRC, successful businessmen and politicians, who did not share the ideology of the coup plotters, were hunted down in a search and destroy operation.
The Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), with the likes of Tsatsu Tsikata, Kojo Tsikata and the three Ahwoi brothers providing the intellectual and ideological base, virtually turned this country into a Banana Republic where refuseniks were executed, thrown into jail for long sentences, or chased into exile.
Law in Ghana became the Gospel according to Jerry John Rawlings. The only means of keeping one’s sanctity in a nation, where extra-judicious killings became a political weapon, was to keep mute.
When three judges , Justices Fred Poku Sarkodie, Kwadwo Adjei Agyepong and Cecelia Koranteng Addo and an army officer, Major Sam Acquah (rtd), were abducted on June 30, 1982, and murdered in cold blood at the Bundase Military Firing Range, it clearly sent the signal that one could not live in Ghana and be seen opposing the insurgents.
Sounds interesting, but all the victims were Akans. Nepotism and cronyism were not far away, I dare state.
When Junta Head Jerry John Rawlings coined the phrase ‘Culture of Silence’ to describe the period when no one dared question his authority, he summed up the hopelessness of the average Ghanaian under the most repressive regime to take centre stage of governance in this land of our birth.
The moral authority with which the government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), under the leadership of Jerry Rawlings as President of the Republic, jettisoned a report of a probe into corrupt deals of some ministers and high ranking officials of the administration, tell the whole story of the lie behind Rawlings’ theory of staging two coup d’états to save this country from corruption.
As you read this piece, corruption and nepotism appear to have taken centre stage in an administration which claims to take its inspiration from the two coup d’états staged by Mr. Rawlings. Last year, the government of John Dramani Mahama and his NDC overspent the people’s budget by as much as GH¢8.7 billion. Incidentally, not even Jerry Rawlings has raised a finger.
At a time when this nation has doled out GH¢51 million to Alfred Agbesi Woyome for no work done, the State of Ghana has been unable to meet its contractual obligations to doctors, said to be in the region of GH¢41 million.
While prices of petroleum products are hitting the roof and hitting the poor the hardest, GH¢32 million of state money has been doled out to an individual to plant trees in the north. The interesting thing about the afforestation project is that we are told the trees have all but withered.
We also woke up one morning to discover that GH¢15 million of hard-up cash had been doled out to the same person to cultivate a guinea fowl farm. The interesting thing about this farm is that we are awaiting the return of the birds from Burkina Faso.
In all these developments, all Ghana has been in the dark for nearly one year. For all this long, power outages have hurt industry and reduced individual households into caves. We are told that the script on all these negative developments was written when Jerry Rawlings was sprung from his cell at the former Special Branch headquarters of the Ghana Police Service to lead the AFRC on June 4, 1979. For this reason, some of us cannot, and will not forget the role played by so-called Junior Jesus and his AFRC. Today is June 4, especially when the economy is down to ‘bare-bones.’

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