On the 39th anniversary of the 31st December Revolution it is my great pleasure to offer fellow cadres my heartfelt congratulations and solidarity. I regret that I could not join you physically at Osikan park today.
I would have liked today to renew acquaintances with the women and men who were in the trenches in the struggle for social justice, participatory democracy and accountability in that unique decade of our youth, and to share old war stories as comrades do and to mourn our losses – including obviously the loss of our comrade Jerry John Rawlings.
Unfortunately, we do not have that luxury today. Today we are once again called to the service of our nation.
Today our country is again faced with the menace of a bankrupt social elite waging war against ordinary people; deploying private militias and corrupting and co-opting our national security services to maintain a partisan stranglehold on our resources and production. The violence and death we have seen meted out by men in military and police uniforms in the 2020 elections is unprecedented in the 4th Republic. It calls for a response.
The people behind this horrible strategy forget the lessons of our common history. In 1966 they sponsored a military coup to gain by force what they could not gain through the ballot box. The 1966 coup destabilised our politics and put our economy into a tailspin that lasted 26 years. 31st December, the process we celebrate here today had its roots in that instability and chaos initiated in 1966. Fortunately, like its precursor, the June 4 1979 uprising, it had as one of its principal aims the depoliticization of the security services and restoration of discipline and professionalism and an attitude of accountability to the civilian population amongst those who bear arms.
Comrades, as cadres we lived that struggle. We know how difficult and dangerous the struggle to put the genie back in the bottle was; how often abused and undisciplined soldiers who had for 16 years developed a culture of impunity took the law into their own hands and wreaked havoc in the early 1980s. We know how close we came to the disintegration of the service and to a national civil conflict that would have dwarfed Liberia, Sierra Leone, and la Cote d'Ivoire. We know the cost in resources, stress, and lives (both military and civilian) of the struggle to restore command and control and to realign the institutions to serve rather than terrorise the public. We swore in the 80s that we would build a democracy that would shield the country from such dangers. And we have succeeded now for 28 years of the 4th Republic. We must protect what we have collectively built.
We have a task today to educate and agitate to ensure that our politics remains free of violence and that our institutions remain free of political partisanship. We have a duty to protect our public servants and institutions from political partisanship and to assure them that they will have our support and solidarity when they refuse unlawful and unconstitutional directives from partisan political officials or agents. Above all we are called to protest against the exploding corruption that underlies the instinct to terrorise and brutalise Ghanaians.
Comrades, this is our task today. It is by taking up this struggle against official impunity, peacefully, consistently and resolutely that we will best celebrate the life and struggles of our departed comrade Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings who we lost just a few weeks ago. The most fitting testimony to his legacy is to keep the flame burning. We are organisers and trainers. It is time to organise again and to train a new generation of pacifist activists. Let us organise.