Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The dedication and selfless role played by Dr. J.B Danquah and its relevance to democratic principles and practice in Ghana

The month of March is significant in Ghana's history. It is a month that reminds Ghanaians of the spirit of patriotism as demonstrated by the likes of Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ako Adjei, and Obetsebi Lamptey. Recently, a wreath-laying ceremony took place at Kyebi in the Eastern Region in remembrance of Dr. Joseph Kwame Tweretwie Boakye Danquah. The event helped to bring to focus the great role played by the late J.B, as he was affectionately known. He believed in rule of law, good governance, freedom of the individual and democracy. He stood against suppression of the individual, dictatorial tendencies and lack of openness in government. He played a significant role in pre- and post-colonial times and, in fact, is credited with giving the name Ghana.

Again, J. B. Danquah was described as the "doyen of Gold Coast politics" by the Watson Commission of Inquiry into the 1948 riot. On the issue of rule of law, J.B Danquah believed that it is what the law says that should be made to regulate the conduct of politics in society. He also believed in good governance, pointing out that the individual should not be taken for granted but included in the process of rule of law. So strong was his unending commitment to liberal democracy that it led to his death under bizarre circumstances at the Nsawam prison in 1965. Dr Danquah made no secret about his preference for the Western-style democratic model and free market as against control and dictatorship. These were the qualities which established him firmly as advocate of a liberal democratic political tradition in the politics of Ghana. He also held the view that a political party should be used to liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property-owning democracy in Ghana. This relates to right to life, freedom and justice, as the principles to which the Government and laws of the land should be dedicated in order to specifically enrich life, property and liberty of each and every citizen.

Today, J.B Danquah is no more but his beliefs and ideals continue to be a source of inspiration and guidance for many countries in Africa including Ghana that have chosen the path of rule of law and democracy as against dictatorship and autocracy. Any individual in Ghana today can legitimately stand up and criticize Government, the President or any official without the fear of being arrested and thrown into jail without fair trial. Each time Ghana is praised for her democratic credentials we must know that democracy, as known and admired today, did not emerge overnight in Ghana. The dark days in the history of the country where political power was misused and misapplied to suppress the will of the people, both under military and non-military dictatorships, are now a thing of the past.

Due to the role played by democratic stalwarts and others like J.B Danquah, Ghana has now seen the light and will continue to move in that direction, bearing in mind that rule of law and Democracy are what the people want. The noble people of this great nation must continue to exhibit their democratic credentials for the promotion and facilitation of rapid economic growth and development in the interest of all.

This must be the goal, dream, aim and purpose of all citizens in order to push the country along a smooth path of progress, freedom and development under the culture of rule of law.

By Kofi Amponsah-Bediako, Head of Public Relations, Ghana Standards Authority.

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