Emma Emeozor, [email protected]
The peace and stability Ghana has recorded since democratic rule returned after former military strong man Jerry Rawlings transformed to civilian president in 1992 in a presidential election, is being threatened and except the political leaders exercise restraint, the country may be heading for another political upheaval.
Fear has gripped the country after the government announced it has foiled a coup plot and persons involved have been arrested. Expectedly, the international community was stunned to hear that a group could think of forcefully removing a democratically elected government at this crucial point of Ghana’s development history, even if President Nana Akufo-Addo was nor delivering the dividends of democracy. Ghana is still recovering from the misfortune of bloody coups that were staged for greater part of its existence as an independent country.
The disturbing report came on the heels of a move by Western Togoland separatists to break away and declare an independent nation. A combination of the failed coup plot and the campaign by the separatists to split the country clearly shows that there are overt and covert moves to destabilise a country that received global applause for a peaceful change of baton from one elected government to another elected government in a keenly contested election in 2001. It has since sustained the tempo to the admiration of Africans, especially those from countries that have been unable to conduct elections that can be adjudged as free and fair. It is instructive that Ghana was the first African country to attain independence and ought to have kept the ‘light’ shining nonstop.
Its first president, Kwame Nkrumah and other Ghanaian political leaders did not go to bed after its colonial master, Britain, quit the country, rather, they rallied other African leaders and campaigned rigorously for the decolonisation of the African continent.
The expectation at the time was that Ghana will be a leading example in the promotion of democratic values in Africa. It was therefore an irony that barely nine years after independence, the government was overthrown in a military coup. Coup became the means of changing governments in Ghana. With time, the destabilising effect of the ‘erratic’system became manifest across the country. Ghana that was a promising country at independence began to experience socio-economic woes. The overall implication of destabilisation was the tortuous road Ghanaians have walked over the years to arrive today. Even then, the process of full recovery is to be accomplished.
Ghanaians need peace and an enabling environment to rejig the economy to raise the country from the doldrums they are facing today. Since its return to democracy, Ghana’s successive governments have worked hard to improve the economic. Revamping an economy that has been destabilised for decades is not an easy task.
It requires patience on the part of the masses on the one hand and on the other hand, foresight and dexterity on the part of the leaders. Of course, leaders, irrespective of political affiliation must be united and committed to improving the lives of the people.
But what would tempt anybody to think of plotting to topple a government that was legitimately elected when the ballot box provides for opportunity to sack a non performing political party and its government in due time.
Ghana, like other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa continue to face problems of ethnicity, corruption in high places, hate, power struggle, poor development policies and pull-down-syndrome. Put differently, ‘dirty’ politics have continued to plague Sub-Sahara Africa to the detriment of the electorate.
The botched ‘coup’ and the reactions that have trailed it so far raise concern. Ominous signal seems to be hovering over Ghana ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Though the matter is already in court, Ghanaians have remained sharply divided over the allegation.
The danger of the division is evident in the politicisation of the case. Former President John Mahama is among prominent Ghanaians who have questioned the correctness of the allegation. It is of note that the opposition party, National Democratic Congress’s (NDC) has nominated Mahama to contest the 2020 election. President Akufo-Addo belongs to the New Patriotic Party (NPP). Since democracy returned to Ghana, the two parties have been at one another’s throat.
If Mahatma’s nomination is not annulled, it will be the third consecutive time he and the president will be facing each other at the poll. Mahama defeated Akufo-Addo in 2012 while Akufo-Addo sent Mahama packing in 2016.
Undoubtedly, there is no love lost between the two top politicians. Therefore, the public must receive statements by the two political foes on national issues, particularly on the failed ‘coup’ with an analytical mind and with caution.
But what is the allegation made against the suspects. The government said a medical doctor and others had plotted to seize President Nana Akufo-Addo and his Vice, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia during a public event. Security agents reportedly found “several arms, explosive devices and ammunition in locations in Accra and Kpone-Bawaleshie in Dodowa.”
According to the Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, “the arrest and seizure come after 15 months of surveillance and gathering of evidence on the activities of the prime suspects and others.” The camp of the suspects was infiltrated by government spies. The prime suspects include a medical doctor, Dr Frederick Yao Mac-Palm, a local weapon manufacturer, Dornyah “Ezor” Kafui and a freight manager, Bright Allan Debrah Ofosu (aka BB or ADC) a freight manager for their involvement.
In his reaction, Mahama reportedly said: “There was this challenge going on of people showing possible weapons that can be used in a coup d’état. “There was this one that was very intriguing because this was the wooden spatula that is used to stir ‘banku’ popularly called ‘Bankuta’….and I said well, possibly; that can be used to hit the guy at wherever you are going to attack, he may fall unconscious.”
He reportedly mocked the government, saying he never knew that, even “bentua” (anema) can be used as a weapon in a coup plot. Bentua is a local enema (anema) syringe commonly used in Ghana. The former president made the remark while addressing participants at the 13th Annual Residential Congress of the National Health Students Association at Korle-bu, a day after the failed coup plot was announced.
Mahama is not alone. A section of Ghanaians say they find it difficult to believe that there was a plot to remove the government, arguing that it is impossible for anybody or group of persons to have ‘dreamt’ of kidnapping the country’s president and his deputy. Some believe that the prime suspects are being ‘persecuted’ for being critical of the government. Public attention has been drawn to the online platform of one of the prime suspect, Mac-Palm, which carries reports criticising Akufo-Addo’s economic policies to the discomfort of the government.
Still, another section of Ghanaians chose to keep mum. This group neither believes nor dismisses the allegation even as they are dumbfounded that the country is enmeshed in a ‘coup’ saga at a time all hands should be on deck to consolidate the gains of the democratic transformation.
Whatever be the reactions of Ghanaians, it is obvious that the people have been distracted from focusing on those issues that are germane to fast tracking the country’s development process. This is unacceptable, especially against the backdrop of the trauma the people are likely to undergo for the period the trial of the suspects will last.
Undoubtedly, the outcome of the trial will cause some disturbing ripples across the country. Already, the country has become so divided that observers are worried that the 2020 campaign and election will be chaotic. Those fomenting crisis for the purpose of achieving their political agenda must be reminded that the masses are wary of bloodshed.
The average Ghanaian wants peace, unity, development, he wants to have three square meals on his table, he wants a roof over his head and also, he wants to participate in the affairs of the country unmolested. Ghanaians are proud Africans.
The current tempo in the country calls for global concern, particularly in the West African region. There are countries in the region that are facing either political or economic crisis. But there are internal and external mechanisms to address such problems. They may be complex in nature but there are hopes that they will eventually be resolved.
Therefore, for anybody to hatch a ‘coup’ in any of the countries of the region now is illogical and must be condemned by all. Ghanaians and indeed all African citizens must abhor forceful removal of a legitimately elected government. Ghanaians doesn’t need to be reminded of the colossal harm forceful removal of governments has caused their economy.
On the other hand, the government of Ghana and indeed political leaders in Africa must be open minded and be ready to tolerate critics. This is to say those in corridors of power must not cook stories to blackmail or gag perceived political enemies or opponents. Political leaders must be seen to be unbiased in the discharge of their obligation to the citizenry at all time.
African leaders must be wary of making the continent a laughing stock in the international community. It is disheartening that in the 21st century Africa is still a toddler and there are still fears of coups. Pundits have always wondered for how long Africa will the continent remain dependant on the West.
While, the international community await the pronouncement of the court in Ghana on the fate of the alleged suspects, it is imperative on the country’s political leaders to maintain decorum and discourage their followers from acts of lawlessness that could jeopardise the fortune of the country