31st Dec. Revolution: Highs & Lows, 40 years on

Jerry John Rawlings.

By Osei Piesie-Anto, Socio-Political Analyst

Forty years ago today, a shrill voice rang through the airwaves of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s newsroom that drew the attention of Ghanaians to this statement: “Fellow Ghanaians, as you will notice, we are not playing the national anthem. In other words, this is not a coup. I ask for nothing less than a REVOLUTION – something that will transform the social and economic order of this country. Fellow citizens, it is now left to you to decide how this country is going to go from today. We are asking for nothing more than the power to organize this country in such a way that nothing will be done from the Castle without the consent and authority of the people. In other words, the people, the farmers, the police, the soldiers, the workers you – the guardians- rich or poor, should be part of the decision-making process of this country.” That was Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings who just after two years of handing over power to the Limann

Administration, staged a dramatic comeback on the grounds that the administration of the country had collapsed due to political indiscipline, internal division and rancour. The PNDC administration that was established after the 31st December 1981 Revolution, quickly began to translate the maiden speech of Chairman Rawlings into action; that is, transforming the social and economic order of this country, and giving power to the people to largely determine the way they would want themselves to be governed. Prior to the 31st December 1981 Revolution, Chairman Rawlings as he was fondly called, had earlier said during the June 4 1979 Uprising that, it was only when the people insisted on their rights as well as taking their destiny into their own hands that the country would be on the right path to development. Anchored on the ideals, values and principles of probity, transparency, accountability and social justice; and between 1982 and 1992, the PNDC was able to institute measures at the political, economic and social fronts that virtually stopped the decay in the governance system of Ghana during the era of the two Supreme Military Councils (SMC I and II), from 1972 to 1979. This is a period when economic instability, corruption, moral decadence, impunity and military indiscipline reigned.

For forty years since the establishment of the 1992 Constitution, Ghana has gone through democratic dispensation without any military intervention. It is therefore justifiable to say that, the stability of political party activism and practice has been resilient owing to the fact that Ghanaians have come to terms with governing the people with their participation as well as being in a position to hold those in power accountable. This is a legacy that has been bestowed on us a nation. And for a 40-year period of stability in a democratic dispensation, one can justifiably pay tribute to The Legend, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and many sung and unsung heroes and heroines, who from May 15 1979, June 4 1979, 31st December 1981 to January 7th 1993, put their lives at stake to lay the foundations of our national direction. The 40 years of democratic stability has, however, not been as rosy as we may want it to be. We have failed to really establish strong institutions that would stand independent of government to ensure that the values and principles bequeathed to us by the 31st December Revolution, guided the actions of elected administrations.

The gatekeeper roles much needed of The Media, Civil Society Organizations, Faith-Based Organizations, Traditional Authorities and even powerful statesmen and women who stand to be counted in the defence of the Constitution, are often compromised. Political undermining of regimes, wanton acts of corruption and excessive borrowing of funds, insecurity, anti-social acts like armed robbery, moral decadence, and destruction of our natural heritage such as forests, farmlands, rivers and aquatic life through illegal mining activities have gradually crawled back into our body politic. Compounded by the Covid-19 era when economic challenges all over the world have made it difficult for projected policies and programmes to be pursued, it is regrettable that within the 40-year period, several factories, roads, hospitals, housing, educational, water and electricity projects have been abandoned, leaving in their wake inadequate socio-economic infrastructure and massive unemployment of the youth. As we celebrate 40 years of the 31st December Revolution in a seeming democratic stabilized environment, may the sublime legacy of Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings and all patriots who have contributed to how far we have come as a nation, serve as a guide to current and future generations as we struggle to shape the destiny of our dear country towards the pursuance of socio-economic transformation through the promotion of equal rights, fair competition in the abundance of opportunities, peace and security, and freedom and justice for all citizens in a multi-party democratic system.

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