Chapter 5: From Revolution to Constitutionalism PNDC Era to Fourth Republic

Chapter 5: From Revolution to Constitutionalism PNDC Era to Fourth Republic

  • date
  • December 16, 2014

The 31 December Revolution

Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings

Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings

At a carefully chosen time in the night of 31 December 1981, when New Year’s parties were in full swing, Flt. Lt. Rawlings struck again to take over power. This was the culmination of a growing confrontation between the Limann Government and Rawlings and associates, typified by the harassment of the latter by the security apparatus of the Limann Government. Chris Asher, Editor-in-Chief of the Palaver, reportedly told the BBC that the Limann Administration had fed him with false information to wage an “orchestrated campaign” of lies against Flt. Lt. Rawlings. A top official of the Foreign Ministry told the National Investigations Committee (NIC) that a meeting of security agencies chaired by Dr. Nabila, Minister of Presidential Aff airs, decided to assassinate Flt. Lt. Rawlings and Capt. Kojo Tsikata (Rtd.). Rawlings was to be killed in Togo on his way back from Libya in 1979. Rawlings was saved because some Togolese officials opposed the involvement of Togo in the plot. The Togo plot was one of many against Rawlings and associates.The Limann Administration was taken off guard by the 31 December coup. Thus began the era of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), which lasted almost twenty years– hardly provisional. So what was the PNDC brought about to do?
In announcing its formation on 31 December 1981, Flt. Lt. Rawlings said it aimed at a revolution to transform the social and economic structure of society and to wage a holy war to enable soldiers, farmers, workers, policemen, and other poor people to be actively involved in the decision making process. In his description of the Limann Government, he showed a clear intention to continue the housecleaning exercise begun by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) as a paramount aim. In a speech at Conakry, Guinea, when on a one-day visit on 11 January 1984, he said the Revolution had broken the “culture of silence” imposed on Ghanaians. It is important to recall this speech, particularly as most people ascribe the phrase “culture of silence” to Professor Adu Boahen, as he used it in a speech in 1988 advocating a return to constitutional rule. Before that, E. A. Haizel, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for Democracy (NCD), had announced on 22 April 1987 that the NCD would soon launch a programme of education to break the “culture of silence” which had trapped the majority of Ghanaians, resulting in murmuring and passivism instead of positive declarations of opinion.

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