In memory of Limann
I was pleasantly reminded reading a commentary on gospel tract which re-affirmed that change is ‘’the only constant in life,’’ as transitory as living portends; and implicitly time flies—tempus fugit. On flight, we tend to look back more on losses than achievements. And for a country which pretends not to find it praiseworthy, indeed regularly puts men and women of affairs in fastest oblivion, perhaps unconscious wish to erase their contribution to country. And in gathering moss to become uncompromised where these don’t, heroes (heroines) belong to ‘for-us or against. Being delicately circumspect to abstain for anonymity is imperative, a disconcerting act as almost normal ideological anathema.
Therefore, celebrating patriots is an exclusive for who choose to reflect. The other view is either ubiquitous, or, may try power political cantankerousness to minimise publicity notice through calculated delay and spurious excuses, allegedly all the time and a politically clearly divisive press, it is and was always leaked. Our pitiful experience as a country needs no citations. Thus, I was in an interview on the President of the Third Republic 24 Sept 1979 to 31 Dec. 1981 Dr Hilla Limann to feel comparatively the kind of politics then and now. My reaction was [and remains] we have deteriorated and selfishly as well. Neither requires proof nor like the hymnist’s ‘’I need no other argument’’.
Dr Limann was a last ditch-stand by the PNP [Peoples National Party, CPP-incarnate]. Death had robbed them of Alhaj Imoru Egala—‘’Baaba’’. Their idea was to honour him for sticking for the CPP [Dr. Kwame Nkrumah] and held the rump after several leading persons’ walk-off and having publicly disowned him. He was Baaba’s obvious successor following lots of probably ‘’we are nor up to it now’’ withdrawals. Incidentally, it appeared to run parallel with [a] Dr Alex Quaison-Sackey’s disappointment to lead the Third Force Party when its convener Dr John Bilson stepped down. Dr Limann was elected at the re-run of the presidential contest against Victor Owusu July 9, 1979. Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings then AFRC chairman had given his pledge not to cancel the elections at meeting with all the contesting political Parties’ leadership at 5Bn Burma Camp 7 July 1979. He had struck out the SMC II prior 4 June. The question to ease the limbo was asked by Dr R.P.Baffuor. The country breathed huge sigh of relief.
It was a country politically poised on restoration of the rule of the law when Rawlings had dismissed SMC II headed by Lt. Gen Fred Akuffo. But Rawlings warn-advised or drew Dr Limann’s visit to the Castle to be congratulated. Rawlings said the AFRC thought Dr Limann had seemingly sinister ‘’faces behind’’ his upcoming seat. Dr Limann responded positively. The country was cheered away from the huhu-huhu [gossip or unhealthy rumour derived apparently from certain suspect past] that gained momentum. The PNP was riled.
Historically, that was the beginning of honing knives that led to several confrontations with a so-called Central Committee and was a serious adjunct-crack-up in government, relations between the President and the Party and their distractive-cause to (a) govern and (b) meet the expectations of the country for the economy. Third republic inherited the lingering fundamental residue-impacts of ‘’YENTUA’’ [we won’t pay— Acheampong’s following the stagnations of NLC – Busiah’s double devaluations Rawling’s own mop up and swelled into the overthrow, Rawlings’ second in the same bracket with Fijian Col Sitiveni Ramboka.
President Limann had summed up his achievements as ‘’peripheral to the problems’’ he had inherited. But his set backs were the Budget rejected by Parliament because the orinal architected by the Technocrats were tampered through the intrusion of the Central Committee, a hotch-potch collection of Marxists-Leninists which initially upset the President’s second ministerial team and issued a running vexed issue.
His public faux pas was his political repartee. For example, describing a political opponent as a ‘’thief ’’ of official electrical power generator. The media did not spare him as the Ashanti Pioneer whipped him mercilessly advising he should speak and or conduct himself as ‘’father of the nation’’ unlike PNP with the rest in variations on the same theme as ‘’a spoilt pampered school Boy’’. In the tempest laid his temper. He was highly reticent with dull minds and looked naturally impatient with inconsequential arguments with for instance what he read as the usurpation of his authority to decide as the elected President, not figure head of a recycled backroom politicians wearing badges the country had been wearied about in the CPP years.
It was a running Chinese ‘’long march battles’’. Dr Limann had fought them off his back both out of his recollection of unpalatable bit of the history and made honest endeavours to shift from very Left-Wing politics to move to the centre for just and fair society. I recall in his first-year verdict of himself, he said ‘’J’ai vecu’’ [‘I survived] and repeated in his second end of year, three months before the four-tenure was truncated. What emerges is he was principled, anxious to re-build a new country–all human rights respected but for the inside snippers, aberration which tended, on hindsight but must have blurred his focus to move policy forward. The practical fact is in politics you also have to be a bit of a ‘’bastard’’ as the then widest circulation tabloid ‘’Daily Mirror’’ [Cecil King’s like our Daily Graphic before nationalisation] wrote in eulogy of British Liberal Party leader, Jo Grimond that he was the only one who had refused to be that and could not succeed.
Actually, what succeeded most impress home and abroad was the composition of Dr Limann’s cabinet of academics and life-achievers. Leading the opposition PFP in parliament, Dr Jones Ofori Atta [Dad of current Finance Minister Ken, [under public siege] set the tone for unanimous approval, dissimilar to today’s, with all its record probes for said nobbling etc.
He said ‘’Mr Speaker, we on this side of the House have nothing to object’’. Some compared the content of the Limann cabinet with Nkrumah’s first, though there were two British colonial expats. Interestingly, both Dr Limann and Prof Busia had spoken professing their ideologies in politics as ‘’I am Ghana’’ apart from semantic difference. In time previously, Paa Willie [Ken’s grandad] engaged in inconclusive bouts of intellectual arguments about how much of ‘I am Ghana’ contradicts Paa’s own: ‘’politics is a game like cricket and played by gentlemen but practically bowled-batted-caught by roughfians’’ to the amusement of Kojo Dumoga, one of Daily Graphic’s star pioneers at the office of Kissi Aferi, Editor of ‘’Sunday Echo’’ at the foot of Kokomlemle in Accra.
But that also somehow strayed into the less than oft=discourses here about [i] the efficiency of that in deliveries and [ii] whether academia has let down the country. In our setting it is a thorny matter—a safer than fighting a fire outbreak in a contiguous sky scrapers in each, a congested estate.
Too many questions are unanswered—how many and their background in politics and administration. But is equally true that academia had been quite powerful speaking out for and against: Dr Jockie de graft Johnson’s ‘’VRA’’, asserting how unnecessary burden then and it was generally described as prestigious frivolity, Nkrumah’ called on academia to ‘’come down from the Ivory tower’’ and the bunch who went could not be assessed in one fell swoop and after all the ‘’Observer’s’’ series on
‘’What went wrong the until the ‘Justice delayed, justice denied’’ court trial and fine gradually collapsed that Magazine’s constructive impact on governance here. It suggests that successive governments could mislead themselves to label the critical sector of scholarship would be tempted to consider it ‘’enemy’’. Its insidious effect is arms folded. Or join in on the pain of keeping a tight upper lip when things get tough, ‘’in no-go’’ instead of ‘’stop-go.’’
I have described his regime as ‘’CONFRONTATIONIST’’ in my book on that era he had presided. I think in foreign affairs his sojourns were both advantage and handicap, without hard grasp of political and economic interplay relative to the domestic. But on the former he brought to bear his dislike of divisiveness. Looking back on US attempt to push Ghana to stay off the Russia at the Olympics for Los Angeles 1981and Ghana going to India to explore transfer of technology to boost our energy generation, because US-Indo relations, as cold as Russia’s coldest. He was a good fellow until you got closer to him.
He meant well to restore the country into its pre and immediately post-independence pre-eminence as much as retrievable. But he was prepared to give over if the case was both for the good for rapid development such as climbed down to rescale the two-years and Oyarifa, Central Region.
He tried laying all his cards up. He was perhaps not articulate, over-laboured about seemingly economic situation which won’t reboot as fast. His best was side-tracked by internal PNP power-wrestling, ditched—singularly, that infamous September 30, 1980 cabinet reshuffle, remembering him.
By Prof Nana Eselfie-Conduah