Mr. President-Elect, I know because of the pressure on you as you prepare to hold the reins of power, you may not get enough time to read this piece. What I also know is that someone else will read this and tell you all about what I am about to write about you. By now, a lot of people surround you everyday, telling you one thing or the other and requesting one thing or the other. Today, the world is on your shoulders and you carry a heavy burden. Whether you like it or not, you cannot fail Ghanaians if even whatever you do to satisfy Ghanaians will be at your peril. I want you to travel along with me down memory lane so that you may remember how hard you have fought for Ghanaians and why you should be grateful for small mercies. In reality, this piece is meant for the consumption of the younger generation who were born too late to know what I am going to write about.
Talking about things that you do at your peril reminds me of the Peoples’ Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ). When the late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong usurped power and set out to misrule Ghana, Ghanaians became cowards and refused to challenge Acheampong because of the fear for their lives. At a point in time, it seemed Acheampong will rule forever because all coup attempts were busted. Inflation hit the rooftop and the Cedi was like a toilet paper. When people complained of the fallen Cedi as against the other foreign currencies, General Acheampong retorted: “Sika ben na yen di?” (“Which money cannot be spent?”) Acheamong ordered the Bank Of Ghana to print more currencies so that every Ghanaian will have some in his or her pocket to spend. In the face of all these economic mess, Ghanaians swallowed their pain in dignity.
At a point in time when General Acheampong realized that Ghanaians were fed up with military regime he proposed the Union Government (UNIGOV). This type of proposed system of governance was to bring together, civilians, the police and military to govern Ghana. The ‘Chairman’, as Acheampong was nick named, criss-crossed the country to preach the UNIGOV agenda. He visited chiefs in their respective palaces to convince them to support the new system of governance. In fact, wherever he went people received him cordially. You know the proverbial Ghanaian courtesy and hospitality! If even they don’t want to follow you, they pretend to be with you. So Acheampong had the funny idea that his UNIGOV balderdash will become successful.
Unknown to Ghanaians a shadowy group called Peoples’ Movement for Freedom and Justice was being formed to challenge Acheampong’s UNIGOV nonsense. The Secretary General of the PMFJ was a certain diminutive young and enterprising lawyer called Nana Akufo Addo. Then Acheampong called for a referendum on the UNIGOV and started campaigning in full swing. Before one could blink an eye the PMFJ sprang from nowhere to hit the road running. The group was made up of K. A Gbedemah, William Ofori – Atta, Professor Adu Boahen, Sam Okudjeto, Obed Asamoah, Godfred Agama, S.P Jantua, Jones Ofori- Atta, Johnny Hanson and Nii Armaah Armatefio (Mr. No).
The referendum was simple: if you want UNIGOV, vote YES and if you do not want UNIGOV vote NO. Yours sincerely was working in Takoradi, a stronghold of NO and joined the NO campaign. One day, when Nana Akufo Addo, K. A Gbademah and General A.A Afrifa came to Takoradi to campaign at the PWD Park for NO votes, soldiers stormed the venue, fully armed, to disperse the crowd. The crowd resisted and the police were called in who fired teargas into the large crowd. Some soldiers tried to arrest Mr. Gbedemah but General Afrifa and Nana Addo boldly moved towards the soldiers, held the hand of Mr. Gbedemah and took him away into his car and they drove off amidst the shouting of NO TO UNIGOV, NO TO UNIGOV, NO TO UNIGOV.
After the voting it became abundantly clear that people voted overwhelmingly for NO but General Acheampong insisted that YES won. In 1979, Nana Addo went into exile in Britain after the referendum because his life was threatened. In Britain we used to hear him on BBC World Service, vehemently criticizing the military junta in Ghana and called for democracy. A few months after the referendum, General Akufo, a member of the Supreme Military Council overthrew General Acheampong in what was then referred to as a Palace Coup. General Akufo did not hesitate to lift the ban on party politics and political parties started springing up like mushrooms. Sadly, before we could go to the polls to elect Parliamentarians and President, Flt. Lt. Rawlings came storming like General Norman Schwarzkopf of the Operation Desert Storm fame. He and his overzealous scatterbrains ruled for only three months. They organized the 1979 General Election and handed over power to Dr. Hilla Limann and his Peoples’ National Party who had won the election
Barely two years into the regime of President Hilla Limann, Rawlings came storming again and held the country at ransom for eleven unaccountable years before he reluctantly returned the country to civilian rule. He put off his military fatigue, donned civilian dress, formed a political party called National Democratic Congress (NDC) and contested the 1992 General Election and won. That election was the most dubious election in the political history of mother Ghana. For another eight years Ghanaians lived under a quasi military regime since Rawlings had his own private army called the 64 Regiment or Commandoes. These bunch of soldiers operated outside the ambit of the traditional military and terrorized people without any mercy.
In 1996, Nana Addo challenged Mr. John Kufour at the NPP’s Primaries which was held in Sunyani, the Brong Ahafo Regional capital and lost. He did put the defeat behind him and joined the Kufour campaign team. Mr. Kufour lost the election and bade his time. The tenure of office of Mr. Rawlings came to an end in 2000 and he chose his ‘begotten son’ Professor Mills to take over the mantle. Again Nana and Kufour joined battle at the party’s primaries and again Kufour won. Nana did not lose hope and campaigned vigorously for Kufour to win the 2000 General Election. When he was appointed as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, the first thing he did was to repeal the Criminal Label Law which was introduced by the Rawlings regime to silent his critics in the media in particular. If you write what you want to write and say what you want to say today, thank Nana Akufo Addo. Remember Dr. Obed Asamoah who played key role in promulgating that law had told Ghanaians that that law would be repealed over his dead body.
Nobody in the NPP challenged Mr. Kufour in 2004 because it became crystal clear that the man had performed very well, considering the fact that he inherited a broken economy. In 2008, as many as seventeen aspirants went to the NPP Primaries and Nana Addo emerged the winner. He lost to Professor Mills and accepted his defeat. Again, in 2012 when the NPP had its primaries, Nana won and went into that election full of hope. As to what went on during the Supreme Court election hearing, one needs not recount it here since it has become history. Even though the NPP was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the election was rigged in favour of Mr. John Mahama, the Supreme Court, in a split decision declared Mr. Mahama the winner. At a press conference on the day of the ruling, Nana Addo said even though he did not agree with the ruling, he was not going to challenge it so that the country would see peace and called on his supporters to stay resolute and calm since good times were ahead.
Nana went into this year’s election as an underdog. Having amassed wealth and depleted the national coffers, the NDC’s war chest was overflowing while Nana and his team had to go round with cup in hand to beg for money to execute their agenda of annexing the presidency. The way the NDC spent during the electioneering campaign made it looked as if the world was going to end. They gave out money, outboard motors, pans, cloths, gas cylinders, cars and even built houses for people all in an attempt to woo them to vote for John Mahama. John Mahama and his wife were always in the air with helicopters and the presidential jet, criss crossing the country to campaign for votes. Incumbency was in full gear and Mr. Mahama liked it so much.
At a point in time, during the electioneering campaign, the Chief of Staff had to leave his office to join the campaign team with the Vice President entering and leaving the Central Region, his home region as if his wife was about to deliver at a hospital in that region. The battle for the Central Region became hotter because the NPP refused to be intimidated. When the battle for that priced region became a do or die affair, aged Kwamena Ahwoi was pushed into the ring to join the fight but nay, the people had decided already. Despite all the lies and freebies, the people of the Central Region, kicked against the NDC.
Mr. Mahama went to campaign in the Volta Region five times, Mr. Debra went there on two occasions, Lordina Mahama went on three occasions and many more NDC gurus went there to campaign but the people of the Volta Region did not come out to vote because they felt cheated by the NDC. At the end of the day, the votes garnered by the NPP appreciated tremendously. The NPP even won a seat in that region for the second time. Anyway where is Koku Anyidoho, Ofosu Kwakye, Murtala Mohammed, Omane Boamah, Otukonor, and the other boorish characters in the defeated and disgraced NDC? Good morning, Mr. President – Elect!!!!