President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has paid a glowing tribute to the late Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, stating that Ghana and the entire continent of African have not seen a more far-sighted political thinker than the late Prime Minister of the 2nd Republic.
According to the President, the overthrow of the Government of the Progress, therefore, deprived Ghana of the full impact of Dr. Busia’s agenda for development.
“Decades have gone to show that we turned out to be the poorer for it. We can imagine, for example, where our nation would have been now if he had been given the opportunity to develop his visionary programme of rural development,” he said.
Speaking at the 40th anniversary of the death of Dr Busia at the Accra International Conference Centre, the President further stated: “Some of the ills of contemporary Ghana, such as rural-urban migration, which has been the source of much current social tension, could well have been avoided” if the Busia government had not been overthrown.
Fight for democracy
Dr Busia’s emergence onto Ghana’s political scene coincided with the period when one-party state ideologies were dominant on the African continent and appeared to be more appealing and relevant to developing economies.
In his book, “The Challenge of Africa”, written in 1962, at the height of the Cold War, Dr Busia argued against the post-colonial myth, propounded with convenient ease by Africa’s first generation of leaders, that multiparty democracy was allegedly a luxurious western concept alien to African society.
Dr. Busia is quoted as saying “The principles of democracy – freedom of speech, including the right to criticise and to make propaganda against the government; freedom of assembly and association, including the freedom to organise opposition parties and to propose alternative governments; freedom of the people to choose their governments at general elections and to change them peacefully; freedom of religion; freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment without trial; the rule of law; guarantees for human rights and civil liberties – all these principles of parliamentary government are universal. They can be adopted and applied by any nation that chooses to do so. They can be institutionalised in any culture.”
Dr. Busia was unequivocal in his assertion that democracy could not endure if the leaders and the people were not committed to it; if they did not understand it, or if they were not sincere to its principles, according to President Akufo-Addo.
“He believed that democracy could, and must work in this country, and it was for this reason that patriots such as himself, Joseph Boakye Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, Edward Akufo-Addo, William Ofori-Atta, S.D. Dombo, B.K. Adama, Baffour Osei Akoto, Victor Owusu, R.R. Amponsah, Joe Appiah, Osei Baidoo, Oheneba Kow Richardson, S.G. Antoh, Modesto Apaloo, Ashie Nikoi, Attoh Okine and others, risked their lives to fight against the asphyxiation of our freedom, and the incapacity of our parliamentary system to defend it,” he said.
In President Akufo-Addo’s view, Dr. Busia believed that democracy is consolidated when a majority of the people believe that democracy is the best form of government, or, in Churchill’s words, “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”.
“He worked through the Centre for Civic Education to popularise the notion of democratic citizenship, to induce the citizenry to invest in nation-building, to believe in the rule of law and the propriety of acting properly in the national interest, to combat corruption and lawlessness, and to manifest pride in nationhood,” the President added.
Freedom as ally of progress
He continued, “Whilst his opponents, especially those who held the reins of power in the 1st Republic, were fearful of individual freedom as potentially an unbridled license for adversity and distraction, Dr. K.A. Busia viewed freedom as a great ally of progress.”
President Akufo-Addo indicated that, as one of the three legendary founders of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition, from which the New Patriotic was borne, “Dr. Busia believed that individual freedoms were not just about the space and ability to speak freely, associate and assemble freely, and to vote freely, important as they are, but also about their capacity to stimulate enterprise, creativity and innovation, and, thereby, provide the inspiration for rapid economic development.”
Dr. Busia, the President concluded, “dreamt of a Ghanaian nation at peace, prosperous and generous, a beacon of hope to Africa and the world, a proud African lion, striding into the future with confidence, secure in the knowledge that, here on this continent, we are a nation of destiny, an example, not just for our age, but for all ages.” Human rights
Delivering the main lecture, Speaker of Parliament Aaron Mike Oquaye described Ghana’s Dr Busia as a gift unto Ghanaians.
Touching on his enviable human rights record, the Speaker of Parliament said Dr Busia’s “fight for our human rights and freedom was unique.”
He recollected how Dr Busia, after being forced into exile by Kwame Nkrumah, carried the struggle abroad where his campaign ultimately gained global support to set Ghana free.
“This was similar to the spread of the gospel of Christ globally after the Great Persecution of the Church in Jerusalem. This aspect of the struggle for liberation was ignited in Europe especially by the gigantic scholar who spread the notoriety of the Nkrumah Regime which epitomised in the sadistic death of J.B. Danquah in Prison,” he noted.
He said as ‘father of Rural Development’, Dr Busia saw the need to strengthen agriculture and solidify Ghana’s agro-processing base as a first step towards the country’s ultimate full-scale industrialisation.
Prof Oquaye added that the Busia government saw rural development as crucial to economic growth, in that it would, first of all, lay the foundation for self-sufficiency in food.
“Secondly, it would prevent the drift of young men to urban areas in search of non-existing white collar jobs.
Thirdly, it would boost the cocoa industry, the backbone of the nation’s economy by keeping the farmers on the land and making them happy and content and also providing the roads and transportation that would make easy the cartage of cocoa and foodstuffs from the hinterland to the towns and cities,” the Speaker of Parliament said.
This, he said, ensured that by January 1972 when Lt. Col. Acheampong staged the second major coup in Ghana, a total of ¢1,311,309.00 had been allotted for the improvement of agricultural services in Brong-Ahafo alone.
He added that ¢95,940.00 had also been provided for irrigation; ¢93,130.00 for veterinary; ¢984,289.00 for cocoa division while other sums had been earmarked for animal husbandry and crop production in rural areas. “These were huge sums in the currency of that time,” Prof Oquaye added.
Credit: The Statesman