From then on, “We became an indisciplined society, that’s all,” Prof Akosa said.
The Pathologist said even though there were traces of corruption and hoarding of goods (kalabule) at the time, the advent of the AFRC destroyed the moral fibre of the Ghanaian society by festering “mob rule.”
“…A lot of institutions were disciplined, but after Rawlings came, the mantra was: ‘We no go sit down make them cheat we every day’” – to wit: “We won’t allow the establishment to cheat us anymore.”
“People invaded boards and everybody felt they could serve on a board…
“Even the military suffered indiscipline because non-commissioned officers threatened and even made commissioned officers a laughing a stock,” the former flagbearer-aspirant of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) recalled.
As a junior officer in the Air Force, Rawlings and his cohorts made their first coup attempt on May 15, 1979. It got foiled. He was arrested, court-marshalled and sentenced to death, but his colleagues on the outside, on whose behalf he had voluntarily opted to be hanged for the treasonable offence; broke him out of jail on June 4 that year.
No sooner had he got out of captivity, than he launched a second attempt at a putsch – that same day, which led to the bloody toppling of the Supreme Military Council II, led by General Fred Akuffo: The same regime he had failed to topple two weeks earlier.
He then formed the AFRC, which he chaired. The regime went on a ‘house cleaning’ exercise, to purge the country of corruption. It led to the extrajudicial execution of leaders of the SMCI and SMCII: Lt. Gen. Afrifa, Gen. Acheampong, Lt. Gen. Akuffo, Major Gen. E. K. Utuka and four other senior officers.
Some civilians, too: Mostly market women were flogged publicly, as punishment for hoarding food items and other goods. The hoarding created an artificial shortage, which, in turn, led to an escalation of prices.
In Prof Akosa’s view, the short (AFRC handed over power to a constitutionally elected civilian leader – Dr Hilla Limann, after 3 months), but bloody and iron-fisted rule of the regime, left remnants of indiscipline, which the country is yet to shake off.
“That is where I trace it [indiscipline] to…” he asserted.
In January last year, Mr Rawlings defended the actions of the AFRC, especially as regards the killing of the Generals.
“We had no choice. We thought let two go. Acheampong and a certain Utuka, very corrupt Generals. They were sacrificed,” he said, adding: “It was not enough. Ladies and gentlemen, 10 days later, we had to sacrifice another 10 and some of the Commanders were innocent good people but it had to be done because the rage in the country was too high, too much,” the former President told students in the Volta region where he spoke as the Guest of honour at the closing ceremony of the regional camp of the International Youth Fellowship at the Adidome Senior High School.
According to him, “The ‘kalabule’ had so badly gripped the society.” “A soldier goes to the makola market and is requesting for the price of a piece of cloth for his wife that he wants to buy, and he’s pleading and begging; out of disgust, the woman throws her urine at the soldier. Not once, not twice; three times we know of…why did she do what she did? She did it because people had grown so angry and were finding those of us in uniform so repugnant. In a situation like that, the poor soldier – he only obeys orders – and yet, he is the one who ends up with the urine being thrown at him”.
“At that moment, he would take that woman and want to kill her. At that moment, he would take his General and want to kill him if he ever got his General. Ladies and gentlemen the rest is history in terms of what happened; the explosion that I tried to pre-empt [on] 15 May ended up June 4. They thought I was going to be executed; the very thing I was trying to prevent is what happened,” he recounted.
He expressed amazement at the manner in which he and the AFRC have been demonized over the years for what happened.
“In Africa, instead of asking: ‘What is causing that pressure? Who opened the gas?’ we become oblivious of the growing pressure, the smell of the gas because we are used to the corruption, we’re used to the inefficiencies etc., so that when the thing blows up, then we start asking who lit the match? Who blew it up? What a stupid question,” he said.
“…We should be asking ‘Before the match was lit, what led to the smell of gas in the room?’”
He said the actions of AFRC in the June 4, 1979 uprising had the support of the ordinary people.
“When the explosion happened in that ‘79, ask anybody, your older folks, your parents: ‘Let the blood flow,’ was the signature tune of those day. You know, when you humiliate people to the extent that I have seen over and over in this country – it happened in France, the Revolution in Russia etc., – in Ghana we even managed to contain it. When you humiliate people to that extent, you take away their dignity and respect, the day they explode, you can give them the diamond…they will kick it right back in your face and they’ll want your neck, your blood. That is what we witnessed in those days in ’79,” he justified.