Safeguarding Ghana’s Democratic Legacy: Resisting the Temptation of Coups

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Recent happenings across the African continent, in particular Niger, Mali, Burkina Fasso, Guinea, provides chilling cautionary tales that must not be ignored. The spectres of the National Liberation Council (NLC), National Redemption Council (NRC)/Supreme Military Council (SMC), Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), and Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) eras loom large, casting shadows over the nation’s future. These chapters serve as poignant reminders of the corrosive impact of military interventions on democratic progress.

Drawing a parallel to George Orwell’s allegorical masterpiece “Animal Farm,” the trajectory of these military regimes often started with promises of swift solutions and brighter futures. However, they led to disillusionment, suppression of freedoms, and the entrenchment of power at the expense of the people. Just as the animals on Orwell’s farm experienced the betrayal of their utopian ideals, so too did the citizens of Ghana witness their aspirations curtailed.

The NLC era, initiated by a coup in 1966, promised a cleansing of corruption, eradication of dictatorship and suppression of liberties, and the restoration of civilian rule. However, it led to the postponement of democratic governance and a suspension of the 1960 constitution. The NRC/SMC era that followed the overthrow of the Busia regime, also continued the legacy of military rule, suppressing political dissent and limiting civic participation in governance.

The AFRC also emerged from a coup, promising change through a ‘House cleaning’ against corruption. Yet, irony prevailed: the regime’s champions of justice fell into corruption themselves. Despite efforts, corruption persisted, teaching that lasting change demands unwavering commitment, echoing through Ghana’s past and present

The PNDC era, born out of perceived economic hardship and corruption allegations, demonstrated the fragility of democratic transition.  The regime dissolved political parties and imposed a sort of Military-Cum-Civilian regime. The era perpetuated this pattern followed by all military regimes, the stifling of democratic voices and curtailing fundamental freedoms.

Ghana’s history holds a mirror to other African nations grappling with military interventions. The echoes of Somalia’s Siad Barre regime, Nigeria’s various military juntas, and Mali’s recurring coups should stand as cautionary tales. The promises of stability often give way to years of oppression, economic decline, and societal divisions.

The lessons from across the continent underscore the urgency of safeguarding Ghana’s democratic legacy. The erosion of democratic institutions and the suppression of political voices can lead to a fractured society. The consequences resonate through the economy, where businesses falter, foreign investment dwindles, and citizens suffer from a lack of opportunity.

As we contemplate Ghana’s path forward, amidst the occurrences in our neighbourhood, let us heed the warnings embedded in the allegory of “Animal Farm.” The legacy of these past eras should fuel our determination to resist the allure of coups. Our unity, vigilance, and commitment to democratic principles are paramount.

In a world yearning for progress, Ghana’s journey must be defined by unity, transparency, and accountable governance. As Orwell’s work warns, “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” Let us ensure that Ghana’s future is shaped by the principles of democracy, equality, and collective prosperity.

Beyond our borders, let the African continent stand united against the destabilizing force of coups. Let the experiences of our neighbouring countries serve as stark reminders that democracy is a precious treasure, demanding our unwavering protection.

Thus said, may I turn to to the leaders of governments in Africa, and ask that they remember that their actions mould the destiny of nations. They should cconduct their affairs with transparency and integrity, for corruption and bad governance, fuel the flames of coup temptation. As Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Let Africa’s history serve as a stark caution. The allure of coups can be dimmed by leaders who serve with honour, leading us to a brighter, stable future

THE author is TWENEBOA-KODUAH DICKSON, esq. A lawyer, Lecturer and one whose life has seen  the eras of military intervention to the current democratic regime.

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