Politics in Ghana (1982-1992): Rawlings, Revolution and Populist Democracy


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This work was embarked upon as part of my study of military intervention in politics which had become the bane of politics in my country and Africa as a whole. My previous study had encompassed the period 1972-1979 (vide Politics In Ghana 1972 — 1979). The publication was well received and it won several awards. The book decried military rule in the hope that it would discourage military incursions in Ghanaian politics. As the 31 December Revolution unfolded, several friends impressed upon me, and I felt a deep obligation in the same direction, to capture and analyse the events of the time for posterity and for the guidance of my beloved country.

With the advent of the PNDC on 31 December 1981, revolutionary politics was launched, which was geared towards participatory democracy. The PNDC military government claimed that it was not just another military junta but that under the auspices of the military and civilian revolutionary leaders and cadres, the people were taking their destinies into their own hands towards the establishment of grassroots democracy. In the process, as the revolutionaries claimed, all injustices would be redressed, corruption would be eradicated and a new era of prosperity would dawn as “true democracy” was manifested.

My task in this work was to examine critically, the true nature of the PNDC, its composition, declared aims and objectives and whether the politics of revolution which dawned on 31 December 1981, could be justified. It was worthy to study and document whether the Defence Committees, District Assemblies, political and legal institutions of the PNDC, the regime’s human rights record, economic and social policies, responsibility and accountability to the populace, responsiveness in government and its electoral record did lead to a true democracy. The work is seen as a contribution towards answering the question: did the PNDC bring democracy to Ghana?

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Mike Oquaye

Born on 4th April, 1944 to Mr. E.G.N. Oquaye of Osu, Accra and Mrs. Felicia Oquaye (née Azu) of Odumase-Krobo, Professor Mike Oquaye was brought up at Asamankese in the Eastern Region where he attended the Roman Catholic Primary School and Presbyterian Middle School before proceeding to Presec., Odumase Krobo (0-Level) and Apam Secondary School (A-Level), the University of Ghana, University of London and Lincoln's Inn, London. He holds B.A. Hons (Political Science) LL. Hons B.L. and Ph.D. degrees.
Professor Oquaye's working life has been mainly at combination of private legal practice and lecturing in political science and has attained distinction in both spheres. A Barrister of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, he is also a senior member of the Ghana Bar and Solicitor for many leading companies in Ghana. As an academic, Prof. Oquaye has achieved the singular distinction of winning within four years, the coveted Rockefeller Senior Scholar Award (1993) and the Senior Fulbright Scholar Award (1997), an enviable record, even in the highest academic circles. He has been British Council Scholar, Visiting Scholar in SOAS, University of London and George Mason University, Virginia, USA.
Till he became Ghana's High Commissioner in India in January 2002, he was Head of the Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, Legon and member of the University's Academic Board. His areas of interest and on which he has researched and written extensively, include good governance, conflict, political education, decentralization and development, human rights, military intervention in politics, NGOs, rural development, and gender.
He is a keen advocate of the rights of women including affirmative action. Prof. Oquaye is the author of the award winning book Politics in Ghana 1972-79, published in 1980. The book was adjudged the best work in politics by the Ghana Book Development Council in 1982. The Ghana Association of Writers in 1983 honoured him for an outstanding contribution to the understanding of Ghanaian politics for that same work. A number of Prof. Oquaye's works have been published in international journals including Human Rights Quarterly (US), Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics (UK), African Affairs (UK), Review of Human Factor Studies (Canada) etc. He has contributed chapters in books published in Canada, UK, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana etc. and edited or co-edited useful books on Ghanaian politics, including Democracy and Conflict Resolution in Ghana, Civil Society in Ghana, and NGO - Government Relations in Ghana.
The several awards he has won include the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences Silver Award in recognition of his contribution to the social sciences in Ghana. He was Vice-President of the African Association of Political Science (AAP1S) 1997 - 1999. Prof. Oquaye plays an advocacy role in Ghana and makes frequent appearances on radio and television where he participates in a wide variety of discussions on politics, law, development, human rights and society. He also writes articles for publication in Ghanaian newspapers on vital national issues. His rich understanding of Ghanaian and African politics has been tapped by many institutions in Ghana, local NGOs, international organizations working in Ghana, the Ghana Bar Association, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the Workers College External Degree Centre, the Military Academy and the Staff College for senior military officers. Other institutions and organizations abroad, including Conciliation Resources, UK and the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution in Virginia, USA, have used is expertise, especially in understanding conflict in Africa. He has recently delivered a number of lectures in the University of Delhi, J. Nehru University, University of Bombay, The Military Staff College in India and the War College of India.

A Baptist minister, Prof. Oquaye is married to Mrs. (Major-rtd.) Alberta Oquaye (née Asafu-Adjaye), with children. His hobbies include soccer, table tennis, reading and music.

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