Opinion: Nkrumah Stage-Managed the 1960 Presidential Election – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

ADVERTISEMENT Global Offer 728x90
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jnr., Ph.D.

I did not listen to the Paul Adom-Otchere TV program, so I do not have much to say vis-à-vis the question of whether the young man was willfully distorting the plain facts of history or not (See “Nkrumah Defeated Danquah in 1960 Presidential Poll – Baako ‘Schools’ Paul” MyJoyOnline.com / Modernghana.com 8/3/17). At the end of the day, what matters is the fact that like the bulk of his successors, Nkrumah’s leadership track-record is one that is a mixture of remarkable successes and epic failures. To better appreciate what really happened in the 1960 Presidential Election, one needs to read Dennis Austin’s historical classic titled “Politics in Ghana: 1946-1960.” It is perhaps the most authoritative tome on the subject.

Asia 728x90

But what is clear and well beyond dispute is the fact that the 1960 Presidential Election was in absolutely no way a contest on an even playing level or field. You see, the original Nkrumah challenger was then Parliamentary Opposition Leader and Oxbridge-educated future prime minister Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia. Unfortunately, the latter had to flee into exile or risk becoming one of the legion casualties of the original Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, more popularly known as the Nsawam Medium-Security Prison. The Science and Technology Department of the globally infamous Nsawam Prison was the Condemned Cell Block, where the giant likes of the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian Politics paid the proverbial ultimate price.

Indeed, by 1954, Dr. J. B. Danquah had effectively retired from active politics, after being defeated by his own nephew and Nkrumah lieutenant, Mr. Aaron (Kofi Asante) Ofori-Atta in the Legislative Assembly elections. Danquah was, however, forced to enter the 1960 Presidential Election contest because Busia had fled into exile. Danquah decided to challenge Nkrumah knowing fully well that he stood absolutely no chance against the fast-rising dictator (See Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr’s “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana”). However, he felt strongly that too many people had toiled, suffered and sacrificed their lives for the erstwhile Gold Coast’s reassertion of its sovereignty from British colonial imperialism for only one pathological megalomaniac to facilely and imperiously presume to dictate the terms of the destiny or direction of postcolonial Ghana.

What is worth underscoring here is that in the lead-up to the 1960 Presidential Election, Nkrumah prohibited the Danquah-led United Party (UP) from advertising its policy agenda on the state-owned and operated Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), even in the form of paid advertisements. But what was even more scandalously primitive and patently unenlightened was the fact that Nkrumah also legislated the prohibition of the democratic right of the leaders of the main opposition United Party to use the party’s own vehicles to run its electioneering campaign in any part of the geographical confines of the country.

In other words, practically speaking, Nkrumah arrogated himself the sole democratic right to campaign in the 1960 Presidential Election. And so Mr. Adom-Otchere is not totally off-tangent to infer from the preceding that then-Prime Minister Nkrumah never won a presidential election. The fact of the matter, however, is that Nkrumah had, ironically, handily won each and every election organized and supervised by the British colonial administrators beginning from 1951. Ultimately, those who claim August 4, 1947 to be the foundation of Modern Ghana, rather than either June 12, 1949 or even March 6, 1957, have history on their side, as the founding of the Grant- and Danquah-led United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), also subsequently brought into existence both the so-called Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the United Party (UP) and before the latter, the Northern People’s Party (NPP) and the Ghana Congress Party (GCP), originally led by Dr. Busia, as well as the Baffuor Akoto-led National Liberation Movement.

We must quickly point out that the Northern People’s Party, led by Mr. S. D. Dombo, has a history going back to the 1930s, but the NPP could then not be properly characterized as a modern political party. At best the Northern People’s Party was one of the many civil rights and benevolent associations littered all across the country. And by the way, in the 1960 Presidential Election, only about a diddly 43-percent of eligible Ghanaian Voters cast their ballots. What this means is that by 1960, most Ghanaian citizens and voters had already gotten tired of the extortionately dictatorial and thoroughgoing corrupt and fiscally wasteful Convention People’s Party. It is also significant to note the fact that Nkrumah received only 10-percent of the Volta vote – he had vigorously campaigned for the incorporation of the former Trans-Volta into the new nation of Ghana, even as Danquah equally had campaigned for the present-day Volta Region to be made a part of present-day Republic of Togo.

Even though CPP card-carrying returning officers unanimously claimed Prime Minister Nkrumah to have won upwards of 94-percent of the ballot, the pity here is that the preceding declarations notwithstanding, what both Danquah and Nkrumah partisans, for the most part, woefully fail to pivot their arguments around is the fact that the 1960 Republican Referendum was squarely more about giving free rein to Nkrumah’s dictatorial ambitions than ridding the country of the ceremonial dominion, or domination, of Ghana by Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain. From then on, Nkrumah would no longer be obliged to periodically appear before Parliament, or the democratically elected representatives of the Ghanaian people, to render a meticulous account of his stewardship. Nkrumah was henceforth to be addressed as the “Executive President of Ghana.”

By 1964, when the thoroughly CPP-composed Ghanaian Parliament rubber-stamped President Nkrumah, formerly Prime Minister Nkrumah, with the titled of “President-for-Life,” Nkrumah effectively became Emperor/King Kwame Nkrumah, the sort of Absolute Monarch that made even Queen Elizabeth, II, cringe and yearn to have been born in the Fifteenth Century, or even much earlier. To fully appreciate the extortionate nature of the Nkrumah dictatorship, read Wole Soyinka’s classic drama titled “Kongi’s Harvest.”

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

The opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of www.africanewsanalysis.com and www.zongonews.com