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Minority walks out of Parliament over move to change Founder’s Day

THE Minority on Thursday walked out of Parliament over the decision by government, through the amendment of the Public Holiday Act, 2001 (Act 601) to strip Kwame Nkrumah off as the founder of the country. 

Per the Public Holidays Amendment Bill, which went through second reading in the House on Thursday, September 21, which has since 2009 been observed as Founder’s Day in memory of Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, will now be observed as “Kwame Nkrumah Day.”

The report of the Committee on Defence and Interior on the Bill, available to the Ghanaian Times, which recommended the amendments by majority decision, also named January 7 and August 4, as Constitutional Day and Founders’ Day respectively. 

The former, by an Executive Instrument, was observed early this year. 

If passed, May 25 and July 1, which have been observed as African Union and Republic Days respectively, will now be commemorative days. 

Moving the motion for the second reading in Parliament, the Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, said recognising Nkrumah as the sole founder of the country will be unfair to the other liberation fighters. 

According to Mr Dery, MP, Nandom, the amendment does not seek to rewrite Ghana’s history, but rather put it in proper perspective. 

Seconding the motion, chairman of the Defence and Interior Committee, Seth Acheampong, said the amendment of the bill was to honour all those who played part in the independence struggle and to celebrate additional holidays.

But the Minority, led by its leader, Haruna Iddrisu said the government was attempting to rewrite the history of the country. 

Mr Iddrisu said: “Nkrumah’s stature as an icon on the African continent and founder of Ghana, traverses Ghana’s borders and that any attempt to strip him off of that recognition will not be accepted.” 

Supporting his argument, he said Nkrumah had been adjudged the greatest African of the 20th century above other independence icons like Nelson Mandela by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

Though admitting that other Ghanaians played significant roles in attaining independence for Ghana, every country has an independence icon and Kwame Nkrumah was Ghana’s, and that any attempt to alter the existing provision will be an attempt to deny the late Nkrumah his reverence. 

The National Democratic Congress, the Minority Leader, hinted will reverse the Founder’s Day to September 21, if it returns to power as he led his ‘flock’ out of the House. 

The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, in his argument acknowledged the role Nkrumah played, but said, “it has been blown out of proportion as if he is the only person as far as the independence of Ghana is concerned.”

In his view, the right thing to do was to acknowledge all those who played roles, no matter how insignificant it was, in the attainment of the country’s independence which was started many years before Kwame Nkrumah came into the picture. 

He disputed the claim by the Minority that changing the contentious “Founders’ Day” to “Founder’s Day” was an attempt to rewrite Ghana’s history. 

BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI 

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