Ghana: 60 Years on—how patriotic and disciplined are we?

By Sule N. Jotie

On March 6, 1957, the Union Jack, an emblem of British rule in the then Gold Coast, was lowered and in its place was the flag of Ghana with red, gold, and green and a black star in the middle.


Recounting this day seven years after independence in 1964, K. Gyawu-Kyem said “On that day you and I became free forever from the shackles of imperialism, economic exploitation, disease, poverty and want.” While it is difficult to agree with Gyawu-Kyem 60 years after independence—because majority of our country men and women are still in the shackles of economic exploitation, disease, poverty and want— our forward move as a country from 1957 was greatly impeded by military interventions attributable political corruption or general indiscipline in the Ghanaian social fabric—even though, in most of the cases, the military itself was accused of corruption, leading to counter coups and insurrections.

Military Rule

The years 1966 to 1969, 1972 to 1979 and 1981 to 1992 witnessed military interventions in the governance of the country, beginning in 1966 when the National Liberation Council (NLC), led by Lieutenant-General Joseph Arthur Ankrah, overthrew the government of the Dr Kwame Nkrumah. That regime was also overthrown by another military regime headed by Lieutenant-General Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa in 1969 who handed power to a civilian government, the Progress Party, headed by Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia as Prime Minister with Edward Akufo-Addo, the father of the current President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as President.


Colonel and later General Acheampong led the National Liberation Council (NRC) in 1972 to overthrow the Progress Party government. The NRC metamorphosed into the Supreme Military Council (SMC) which was, in turn, overthrown in what the military described as a ‘palace coup’ in July 1978 by General F.W.K. Akuffo.


That regime of General F.W.K. Akuffo (SMC 2) lasted for a year.  It was removed in June 1979 in a military uprising of junior officers and members of the Ghana Armed Forces led by Flight-Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, which formed the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). The AFRC held office for three months and handed over power to the Peoples National Party (PNP) led by Dr Hilla Limann on September 1979, after a general elections supervised by the AFRC.


However, on December 31, 1981, exactly two years and three months after handing over power to the PNP, Flight-Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings returned to power under the aegis of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), having overthrown the Limann led administration in yet another coup d’état.


This military takeover was the seal of all coups in Ghana as the country has since 1992, when it returned to democratic rule, been touted for holding seven democratic elections with peaceful transitions from one political party to another.


How did you serve this nation?


The obligation that freedom bestows on Ghanaians is enormous. Freedom should not be a license for indiscipline— and democracy requires self-imposed patriotism and discipline. Democracy also entails a society free from disease, poverty and deprivation, illiteracy, bribery and corruption.


Thus after fighting against British imperialism, Ghana needs to fight against disease, poverty and deprivation, illiteracy, bribery and corruption, unpatriotic acts and indiscipline.


A patriotic and a disciplined society is orderly, progressive and safe to live in. Obedience to rules and regulations is a binding moral duty on the citizens.  C. S. Lewis has said that men naturally develop affection for the village or the countryside where they live. It seems, however, not to be the case for Ghana. The late President Atta Mills had cause to complain, when he toured the Upper East region in 2009, that the Bolgatanga municipality was nursing polythene bags, in response to the nuisance of filth resulting from the bad disposal of waste, particularly polythene materials.


The following questions may be relevant in an attempt to examine ourselves as citizens in order to determine the various roles each and everyone plays as a disciplined and responsible citizen in nation-building.


How do citizens of this country treat the environment generally? The hawker, the trotro driver/mate and passenger who drink water and throw the sachet into the streets?

As a civil servant, what time do you go to work and what time do you leave?


As a police officer, how much bribe have you taken to allow a driver without the road worthy certificate to ply the  roads with his rickety bus and kill passengers and other road users?


Doctors and nurses, what are your commitments to your patients, how many patients have you treated with love and how many of them died because of your negligence?


The pharmacist working at the government hospital, are you honest?  


The accountant, how many figures have you forged in order to dupe your country that has spent so much on you?


How many journalists reject bribes from corrupt officials to kill stories?


How many of our traders willingly pay tax after charging tax on every item that sell?


Essentially, therefore, we all have a role to play to move Ghana forward. The bane of our development is bribery and corruption, the cyclical effect of which is tremendous on development because for every corrupt activity, people are deprived of a road, a hospital or a school— Foodstuffs carted from a farm through a good road to the market benefits the politician, the doctor, and the teacher, among others.


It is, therefore, in the interest of everybody to do the right thing and abhor wrong at all times. Government also has an important role to play in the transformation agenda of the country, but the citizens must be patriotic and disciplined. Rather than glorifying their stolen wealth, the citizens must question the wealth of public officials who do not earn more than GH¢ 2,000 as monthly salaries.


And as the president has rightly indicated, Ghana’s development is slower than its age of 60 years. Government should, therefore, use the celebration of the 60th anniversary to re-orient the citizenry to their responsibilities to towards their families, communities, villages, towns, cities and the country at large.


The writer works with the Information Services Department.

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