Political Scientist and 2nd Deputy Speaker of Parliament Professor Mike Oquaye has defended Ghana’s first coup maker, the late Lt. General Emmanuel Kwesi Kotoka, after whom Ghana’s only International Airport has been named.
Professor Ocquaye’s defense follows heightened calls on government by avowed Nkrumaist, Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa, for Government to scrap Kotoka’s name from the Airport.
Professor Akosa argues that naming such an important national asset after a coup maker is a slap in the face of democracy and an affront to Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s First President and Founder.
Lt. Gen Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka was a member of the National Liberation Council (NLM) which overthrew Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on February 24 1966. He was subsequently killed a year after the coup at the forecourt of the country’s Airport.
Although Professor Mike Ocquaye admits that Dr. Nkrumah deserves a national holiday for his great deeds, he told Citi News that Dr. Nkrumah had assumed too much power for himself becoming a ‘dictator’ in a one party state, which Ghanaians at the time did not support.
“Nkrumah deserves a public Holiday because he was a great man nationally and internationally, but I want us to know that he was not the only founder of Ghana. There is the other side of Nkrumah which we don’t ever want to see again in Ghana”.
“Under Article 55 of the 1960 Constitution for example, we had a clear constitutional provision whereby the President had special powers to suspend the Constitution, suspend parliament, to rule by presidential fiat if he alone thought it was in the national interest and definitely we don’t want that again but he did it. There was also a one party state officially decreed. Do we want that again today?” he queried.
“There was also power given to him by constitutional amendment to dismiss Supreme Court judges and many other powers. So people must not think that this was a man who did everything right and then some people conspired and removed him,” he said.
“In fact so many aspects of the 1992 Constitution came because of the experiences under Nkrumah’s regime. Nkrumah did not even allow a Vice-President to be elected because he didn’t want anyone to contest him for power. The fact remains that his removal by Kotoka was not just something that came. Ghanaians were fed up with that same ‘good man’. So Kotoka’s removal of him from power and by his statue being at the Airport, is to remind us forever that no matter what good work any president may forever do for us here in Ghana, we Ghanaians are not going to accept autocracy, dictatorship, abuse of human rights and those kind of things”.
“Kotoka is a hero in his own right because today, what Kotoka stood for is what we are holding in the 1992 Constitution. We said we want fundamental human rights, we said we don’t want people to be arrested without trials, separation of powers, Independence of the judiciary and that Parliament cannot be abrogated by one man, and these are the things Nkrumah stood against, so it means that there is another side of the coin somewhere, and Kotoka represents that side which is epitomized in the 1992 Constitution,” he emphasized.
In a sharp rebuttal to Professor Ocquaye’s position, Professor Akosa told Citi News the Danquah-Busia Dombo Tradition which conceived the NPP, has a generational hatred for Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Dr. Mike Ocquaye is no exception. He said Professor Ocquaye had dented his democratic credentials by approving a coup-d’état.
Professor Akosa further argued that Lt. General Kotoka’s coup was meaningless because it yielded no results but only deprived Ghanaians of better development by Dr. Nkrumah.