The Second Republic was inaugurated at the Independence Square on October 1, 1969 with Dr. K. A. Busia as the Prime Minister and Mr. Edward Akufo Addo as the ceremonial President. In his inaugural address, Busia said, “We think the yardstick by which our success or failure should be judged must be the condition of the human being himself.
We must judge our progress by the quality of the individual, by his knowledge, his skills, his behaviour as a member of society, the standards of living he is able to enjoy and by the degree of co-operation, harmony and brotherliness in our community life as a nation. . .our goal is to enable every man and woman in our country to live a life of dignity in freedom’.
The Progress Party (PP) thus set itself the task of finding solutions to the many problems that confronted the nation.
Busia made rural development a priority area. To ensure the success of this policy, a separate ministry – Ministry of Social and Rural Development (the first of its kind in Ghana) was established. A number of projects were launched to provide good drinking water, electricity and health facilities for rural communities. By 1972, a total of thirty-three projects, including one which was to make potable water available to twenty villages in the Apam area had been completed.
This went together with a £3.5 million water project at Kwanyako near Agona Swedru and was to serve more than 44,000 inhabitants in twenty-two villages and towns in the Gomoa Akyempim area. Other areas which enjoyed the supply of pipe-borne water were Avoeme, Papase, Prampram, Danfa and Pantang. The Barekese Dam was started. The project was to supply water for over one million people in the Greater Kumasi area and over 72 sub-urban towns and villages within 20 miles radius of Kumasi.
Under the Rural Electrification Scheme, a total of fifty-eight towns and villages were connected to the national grid. Some of the towns which now enjoyed power from Akosombo were Nsuta, Biriwa, Kade, Suhum, and Somanya.
The health needs of the rural folks were of prime importance to Busia and, therefore, he sought to improve the health sector. In 1970, the Danfa Project (which among others, was to train traditional midwives in hygienic delivery) was established. Also N¢96,873.O5 (Nc is New Cedi) was devoted to agriculture in the Volta Region. The breakdown was: N¢48,000.00 for a Farm Mechanisation School at Ohawu, NC3,500 for office building and Fumigation chamber at Aflao, NC23,025.00 for stores of the Irrigation Division, N¢14,000.00 for the district office of the Cocoa Division, Hohoe, and N¢8,348.05 for an inspection office for the Plant Quarantine Division.
The cocoa industry was also taken care of. The Eastern Region Cocoa Project which was meant to rehabilitate the industry in the region was launched by the Prime Minister in January 1971. Estimated at a cost of NC8.5 million, the project was to rehabilitate 54,000 acres of existing cocoa farms and the replanting of 36,000 acres of undeveloped land.
Busia also established very good relationship with several developed
countries. Not only did he travel to negotiate for more favourable terms of debt repayment with creditor nations in Europe and America, and to seek further aid to break the cycle of debt and deficit financing to deal with the balance of payments problems, but his high powered international contacts culminated in the signing of a joint Ghanaian-British enterprise to establish a lime factory at Anomabo.
The factory was to give employment to about 1000 people in the area. Besides, a team of Canadian experts was invited into the country to carry out feasibility studies on agriculture and water development programmes in the Upper Region. This was completed in 1971 and in January 1972 a loan of 59 million dollars from the Canadian government was approved for the project.
To ensure greater participation by Ghanaians in the economic advancement of the country, the National Small Business Loans Scheme was approved by Parliament in 1970 to provide direct credit to the stratum of small scale Ghanaian traders and artisans. A Credit Guarantee Scheme was also established by the Bank of Ghana to guarantee loans to small scale businessmen engaged in organised business concerns. This was administered by the Ghana Commercial Bank. The last was embodied in the Ghanaian Business (Promotion) Act, 1970 (Act 323).
On labour related issues Busia’s administration enacted the Industrial Relations Act 1971 not only to ensure that labour laws were in conformity with the International Labour Organisation (ELO) convention but that, workers’ union would be more democratic and free from undue central government interference and control. As an academician, Busia’s One-Year Development Plan of 1970 – 1971 included measures to strengthen secondary education by increasing the number of places in Form 1 and Sixth Form. The training of middle-level personnel was also looked at. Existing polytechnics were therefore expanded and the courses they offered were diversified.
A number of Continuation Schools were also established at the first cycle level of education. Here, the idea was to reduce systematically, the number of years one has to spend in school without sacrificing the quality of education offered and provide skills to serve as a basis for self-reliance for its graduates. The PP government also carried out several construction works in the education sector. Among these were a library block, science block, staff bungalows costing NC69,6OO at Amaniampong Secondary School, Mampong-Ashanti, a five unit classroom block and one science block for the New Drobo Secondary School and a dormitory for Atebubu Training College both in the Brong-Ahafo region.
The Central Region received funds totaling NC30,639.91 for improvement of infrastructure, etc. in various institutions in the region.
Thirty four classrooms were also completed in the Northern region at the cost of NC59,438.OO. These included classrooms for the local authority primary schools at New Buipe, Kalpohin, Yendi and Worikpomo. Others were at Nalerigu, Damongo, Tuna, Tamale and Salaga.
On higher education, the National Council for Higher Education was established in 1969 to advise on staff recruitment, conditions and the financial needs of such institutions. In the same year, the Universities Visitation Committee studied the financial situation in the universities and made recommendations for adoption by government later. Being a democrat, Busia saw to the observance of Fundamental Human Rights as enshrined in the UN Charter. Under his administration, no one was arbitrarily arrested or detained on any spurious reasons or tortured under any pretext. There was freedom of the press, association, religion and speech. The independence of the judiciary was guaranteed and the Opposition in and outside parliament had the freedom to criticize the government without any fear of intimidation or arrest by the security agents.
Busia’s government also created the National Service Corps to serve as a unit where young men and women from the country’s universities and other institutions of higher learning would place their services at the disposal of the country for community self-help and other projects. The Corps, together with the Voluntary Work Camps Association and the Ghana Youth Council carried out a number of projects including construction works and farming.
The major cause of Busia’s overthrow was the continuing economic hardship. His austerity measures intended to improve the economy backfired. Tax increase, rising import prices and currency devaluations seriously affected farmers, the middle class and salaried employees.
This triggered series of protests from the Trade Union Congress (TUC), and in response government sent the army which was itself reeling under the economic difficulties to the TUC headquarters in an attempt to quell
the strike actions.
Aliens Compliance Order:
Few months after Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia was sworn in, he promulgated the Aliens Compliance Order. On the 19th November, 1969, thousands of aliens were inhumanely forced out of the country within 14 days.
This action worsened the economy since cocoa, the backbone of Ghana’s economy was hugely affected because majority of the expelled aliens were farmers and farm labourers.
Ghana produced over 50% of the world’s cocoa output, but this dropped to 27% after the Aliens Compliance Order.
Watch out for “The Fall of Busia” in part six.
Anthony Obeng Afrane