Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Towards Constitutional Government

Economic Recovery Under Unitary Government

Dr. John K. Mumuni Braimah

Dr. John K. Mumuni Braimah, of Munich, West Germany, continues his discussion on why Ghana must have a unitary form of government instead of federalism which has been resurrected in recent times in this debate. (part 1)
Any moves to help Ghanaians understand the process of reducing the burden of running the government of Ghana should be welcome by all, because an ailing economy anywhere in this world is always a sure path to political instability. We must seek therefore to re-instill that sense of appreciation which the majority of Ghanaians exhibited whilst they were and still are benefactors of welfarism supported by funds from the cocoa industry.

Before the introduction of welfarism in the country under Sir Charles Arden Clarke in 1950/51 with Dr. Nkrumah, then acting as the leader of Govern- ment Business, the extended African Family System played a very important and all-embracing role in sustaining our tradition and its enrichment through an unparalleled spirit of love and generosity towards the fellow being, and presenting an organic concept of the African society.

A saying in Mampruli/Dagbani on the family system should give one an insight into how very highly developed the society was: "Gwan zi Kpamni be Mabitri yalla, Bu tehri Fahri yalla," literally "One without regard for seniority and kinfolk dare not think of the future." Such a character would be described thus: "U nyala Kpariga, U masim lur'la Kantinga." "One is comparable to a shadeless Northern palm-tree given to casting away her shade; whoever plants it derives no benefit, when compared to all of the other Northern trees, like the shea nut or dawa-dawa tree.

L.T. Hobhouse, an authority on Liberalism, states that politics should not become an issue of man against state, but of men working through the state as an instrument of social organisation to achieve personal and social fulfilment and as would preserve the essentials of individualism in an economy basically orientated to socialism, being drawn to the organic and interdependent concept of society.

The human body is organic because its life depends on the functions performed by many organs, while each of these organs depends in turn on the life of the body, perishing and decom- posing if removed therefrom. "While the life of society is nothing but the life of individuals as they act upon one another, the life of the individual in turn would be something utterly different if he could be separated from society. "A great deal of him would not exist at all," Hobhouse states. In the matter of rights and duties in particular, which is cardinal for Liberal theory, the relation of the individual to the community is everything. His rights and his duties are alike defined by the common good.

Hobhouse states that society has a certain collective life and character. In our history since 1844 one can say that we sought to develop this, or like the rest of Africa since after the Berliner Abkommen of 1884/5 when the new states of Africa were carved out of old societies, with a pre-colonial history of their own, William Tordoff observed in his book "Government and Politics in Africa".

Because of the work done to create the unitary state, I do not see any reason why we politically have to go once more through a social process of undoing the nation Ghana born on 6th March 1957, and still struggling ever since to gain her rightful position in the world.

Society as characterized, for instance, by the British nation one notices is a unit with a life of its own, with unity constituted by certain ties that bind together all British subjects these ties are in feelings and ideas, sentiments of patriotism, or kinship, a common pride and a thousand more subtle sentiments that bind together men and women who speak a common language, have behind them a common history, and understand one another as they can understand no one else, Hobhouse remarks, comparing contemporary Ghana then to Great Britain.

I believe that we may have a lot of problems economically and socially, because of a long process of sociological underdevelopment, when as people of different tribes, viz. Fantis, Gas, Ewes, The Akans, Nzimas, Dagombas, Gonjas, Mamprusie, Walas, Dagarbas and Kassena, to mention only a few, had to come together to create the multi-tribal state of The Gold Coast. Because of the work done to create a unitary state I do not see any reason why we politically have to go once more through a social process of undoing the nation of Ghana, born 6th March, 1957, and struggling ever since to gain her right- ful position in the world.

After King John and the Magna Carta, Charles I and Cromwell and The Union, the British sincerely sought ways and means of realizing greatness with a sense of dignity. After 1844, The Lugard Constitution of 1925, The Burns Constitution of 1946, The Coussey Commission Report 1949, Frederick Bourne Report 1956, and The July 1956 General Election our country turned independent.

We need civilians and military officers who see the need, as citizens, to be courageous and insist on the rule of law as our three murdered judges did at the expense of their lives. We need civilians who can courageously explain to the electorate why we must do away with economic taboos as Dr. Botchwey has done and thereby boosted the image of the PNDC, after setting the precedence of breaking the taboo introduced in the 1950s when the price of cocoa rose to four hundred and fity pounds (£450), almost thrice what it was in 1948. And each time the price of cocoa fell, unfortunately the civilian governments in office were removed in 1966 and 1972.

Federalism a walk through rose gardens?

"Tomorrow morning I have a Durbar at Kibi and propose to spread myself a bit in my speech which will be addressed more to the country than to the local people. It is time the politicians stopped talking at each other using vague generalities and 'issues' such as 'federalism' and 'regionalism' which nobody under- stands and got round a table together to work out what it is they really want and how to set about achieving it. I propose to tell them so. (Sir Charles N. Arden-Clarke, last Governor of The Gold Coast in a letter to his family, 20.2.1955.) If in 1955 the advice of the Governor to Ghanaians over pressing national problems was as above, then the suggestions being made currently by some Ghanaians should worry me so much because I get the feeling that Ghanaians are most likely to be victims in the future of such political miscalculations. The Convention People's Party (CPP) had been blessed with the maintenance of the same leadership in 1949 until 1961 and could thus popularize nation-wide its policies in manifestos during elections held before independence in 1950, 1954 and 1956 but we find out that there were several opposition parties and no single opposition party leader was popular outside his ethnic group.

It was rather very unfortunate too that none of the leaders of these parties, except of the Togoland Congress, the NPP, could win a parliamentary seat through the popular vote and entered parliament only through special arrangements in 1950 and 1954.

With this unfortunate image, few really understood the Ghana Opposition parties' standpoint, because they invariably spoke only to their own tribal people until the Avoidance of Discrimination Act prohibited parties based on regional, racial or religious affiliations. This forced members, or former members, of the following parties Togoland Congress Party formed about 1950; National Demo- cratic Party, Ghana Congress Party, Moslem Association Party, all formed at one time or another in the early 1950s, that came together to form the NLM (19.9.1955); the NPP April 1955 representing the North, to unite to form the United Party under Dr. K.A. Busia's leadership.

It was rather unfortunate too that none of the leaders of these parties, except of the Togoland Congress, and NPP, could win a parliamentary seat through the popular vote, but entered parliament only through special arrangements in 1950 and 1954 - I have in mind the Doyen of West African politics, Dr. J.B. Danquah, who was again defeated along with Paa Willie in the 1956 General Elections. There was no doubt a leadership crisis the Ghanaian opposition groups never managed to overcome, and therefore never managed to present a leader in the calibre of Dr. K. Nkrumah in Parliament (1951-56).

The opposition parties were merely united in their opposition to Dr. Nkrumah's CPP, but stood individually for very varied and irreconcilable interests; it was therefore very easy for Dr. Nkrumah to exploit this very sad state of affairs even in the face of the very highly critical Jibowa Commis- sion's findings in September 1956. The Togoland Congress stood for secession and the creation of an Ewe state that never existed anywhere in African Colonial history.

During 1953/54 complaints over the misappropriation of funds by the CPC (Cocoa Purchasing Company) officials, the opposition, in the NLM did not only have a very good weapon to draw the attention nation-wide to the corrupt men and women that formed the CPP leadership, thereby enabling them to win the July 1956 General Elections, but delayed getting a Royal Commission of Enquiry to sit on the allegations which finally presented its report in September 1956!

The NLM was by then not merely asking for a Federal form of Government which experts appointed by the Colonial Office rejected, but openly spoke of secession.

talking drums 1985-09-23 ghana yesterday's men and tomorrow's youth paa willie j.h. mensah deGraft-Johnson