Newsfile Normalization of Coup d’état
By Michael Addai
It was horrifying to watch and hear the expression ‘Coup against corruption’ uttered cavalierly by the host of Newsfile on Saturday, February 26, 2022, when he called on the nation to tackle the intractable corruption canker in our society.
It is also just sad and unfortunately for one to see the Newsfile host appearing to be becoming untenable with his use of the platform to advance his own agenda of bias and partiality. Interestingly, Newsfile without Kweku Baako Jnr., to fact check those suffering from selective amnesia, seems to be a propaganda tool for NDC and its sympathizers. How, on earth, could Samuel Ablakwa Okudzeto Ablakwa and likeminded individuals be touted on Newsfile as Champions in the fight against corruption in Ghana? Is it because they talk about the corruption in government just as others do?
Wanton display of intellectual dishonesty
Amid this ‘Coup hysteria’ as conveniently claimed by the so-called experts on the programme the following week, the host’s main agenda appeared to be trying to normalize the word ‘Coup’ by repeating it in an unrelated circumstances or context. But just repeating the word ‘Coup’ in an unrelated fight against Ghana’s corruption canker should not be allowed to normalize it in any way possible and it should not justify the context under which it was used by a client or another person whose intent of its usage was visible for all discerning people to see. How could it be tenable for someone with a platform that reaches so many Ghanaians to be cavalier using the word ‘Coup’ and more so the expression ‘coup against corruption’ without any circumspection especially in an era whereby neighbouring African countries are retrogressing democratically and slipping back into the old era of wanton coup d’état and strongman mentality? Come on, stop the sham!
What even prompted this article was the further exacerbation of the above suspicion on Saturday’s March 20, 2022 programme, when the host did his best to make a hero/martyr out of an individual who has clearly overreached his inordinate political ambition with his use of the word ‘Coup’ to effect change by allowing this individual to spew his own so-called intellectual diatribe about all the wrongs of multiparty democracy so reminiscent of past diatribes of the so-called ‘redeemers’, ‘saviours’, ‘junior Jesus’ and revolutionaries of old who eventually used those justifications and tirades to topple civilian governments. Wouldn’t it be much better and scrupulous for such principled individuals and intellectuals to declare their political hands for one party or the other rather than hiding under the cloak of neutrality to spew propaganda for a particular political interest, as if intellectualism excludes or immune them from being partisan or supporting coup d’état? The fact that a person is intellectual is unimportant (neither here nor there) because the history in Ghana and elsewhere is replete with so-called intellectuals who end up giving intellectual backing and backbone to military juntas, strongman dictatorships and autocratic regimes.
Codeword for insurrectionists
In Ghana’s history, employing the usage of the word ‘Coup’ against something by supposed aggrieved individuals were often the pretext used by the military juntas to take power forcefully from elected civilian governments. Thus, any fight for justice, freedom, equality or against crimes, corruption, inefficient state institutions or governments, nepotism, ‘galamsey’ etc. etc. is not enough justification for anyone to employ its usage when that person does not get his/her way in an era of democratic dispensation. Therefore, it is amply safe to say that employing the usage of the word ‘Coup’ in any of the above context by dissatisfied individuals is a codeword invitation for the military or any other insurrection group, whatsoever it might be, to topple democratic elected civilian governments, and no other interpretation could possibly be deduced from this.
Their apparent fantasy about coup d’état to solve all problems in our society and hence their idealism to achieve martyrdom and infamy through the usage of the word ‘Coup’ to effect changes in society is just unfortunate and very disappointing from individuals who are supposed to know better. This obsession could only be explained in two ways; either these individuals were too young and did not live through the entire duration of any of the military dictatorships or they had not bothered themselves to read the history of military adventurism in Ghana thoroughly. Even if they lived under those military dictatorships, touting one’s personal credentials of suffering under coup d’état but then turning around, out of political expediency to advocate for one (seemingly) is bizarre and insane.
Military adventurism in Ghana politics did not change the lot of many Ghanaians, in fact, it worsened the precarious situations of many Ghanaians and brought untold hardships, suffering and distress to many. What is even the guarantee that this time around, the military takeover of power from an elected civilian government, they are advocating for (seemingly) is going to make any difference?
As is often the case, when disgruntled individuals with clear political motives and ambitions do not get their way in an era of democratic dispensation, they start threatening coup d’état forgetting that others endured 16 years of ‘tortured’ NDC civilian administrations without calling for coup d’état.
Past economic hardships did not elicit forceful regime change
Ghanaians went through politically frustrating 8 years of Rawlings’ NDC administration from 1992–2000 under severe economic hardship coupled with a very strained social disorder riddled with corruption which in the end ushered the country into HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) when a new civilian government (Kufour’s administration) took power in 2001 through an election. Aggrieved individuals then did not call for a coup d’état, rather, they resorted to the law courts for redress and protested on the streets to show their frustration.
Further, Ghanaians again experienced one of the most corrupt, inefficient, and incompetent 8 years of Mills/Mahama’s NDC administrations from 2008–2012 and 2012–2016. Unsurprisingly, all these mal administrations came into power under the cloud of dubious presidential election declarations in 2008 and 2012, respectively. The ultimate mark of incompetence, inefficiency and callousness was when the Mahama’s government, allegedly, inflated the prices/cost of its own so-called infrastructure projects, thus bringing the economy to its knees and plunging it to near bankruptcy, and then had to be rescued by IMF retrogressive loans. The Mahama’s government had no depth of thinking hard nor coming through with any solution to solve the economic problems/hardships it inflicted on many Ghanaians other than rushing to the IMF for rescue straight away.
In all the economic hardships and desperation meted out to Ghanaians during the above periods, affected individuals did not call for coup d’état to effect change other than using the ballot box to get rid of incompetent administrations to effect change. What is the difference between the economic hardships and political frustrations then and now, after all? The only enormous difference among others is that Ghanaian parents are not paying school fees for their wards to be in second cycle institutions and have been spared the extra crushing cost and burden of keeping them there for their education, all thanks to the free Senior High School (FSHS) programme of the present NPP government.
Perhaps had it been the NDC administrations during the above periods, the money that the government is spending now on FSHS would have been diverted into private pockets of others without any benefits to Ghanaian parents in addition to the hardships, misery and indebtedness that were caused to many Ghanaians and the nation at large. In all this, no one dared nor thought it prudent to normalize the word ‘Coup’ to call for a change.
Misplaced cry of ‘Culture of Silence’
In conclusion, one would say that, of course, in an era of democratic dispensation, freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed for everyone, however, that freedom comes with responsibility and that responsibility is more so incumbent on those who have a megaphone to reach many unwitting people.
Interestingly, whilst these individuals are freely able to criticize and challenge government policies and others’ views forcefully and strongly, ironically, when the views, opinions and assertions of such individuals are challenged forcefully and strongly in the same way that they make those assertions and form those views/opinions they turn around to cry wolf of living under a ‘Culture of Silence’, and accuse others of attempting to gag them, clearly not knowing what they are talking about with regards to what it actually means to live under an atmosphere of ‘Culture of Silence’.
As it is usually said, ‘a word to the wise is enough’ (or is it in the north or south?).
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