Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has said that Ghana’s fifth Head of State, General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, has a special place in the development history of Ghana.
“In spite of the brevity of his life, he etched his mark in the annals of development of his country. His tenure as military Head of State saw the change from the imperial to the metric system of measurement; change from driving on the left to right-hand drive in "Operation Keep Right", "Operation Feed Yourself", a programme aimed at developing self-reliance in agriculture, "National Reconstruction" (aimed at promoting employment and skill for workers), face-lift projects in cities, and the reconstruction/upgrading of stadia to meet international standards,” he said.
Former President Obasanjo made the remarks in a speech read on his behalf by his emissary, Ambassador Robert Adeleke Adebiyi, at the launch of a book on the life and work of Acheampong in Accra last Thursday.
The launch of the book was also used to commemorate the 90th birthday of Gen. Acheampong.
The 240-page book, titled ‘General Acheampong – The Life and Times of Ghana’s Head of State’, was written by Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah, a former UN Senior Governance Advisor and Co-founder of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and published by DigiBooks Ghana Limited.
General Obasanjo, who also made a brief video interaction from his base in Nigeria at the event, said: “My friend and colleague, General Ignatius Acheampong, has done his bit and like every actor, has left the stage. It remains for others who are on stage to reflect on what they want to be remembered for.”
He said the book would present a unique perspective to governance and offer lessons to be learned by “those in power and the followership”.
“It dispels untruths and attempts to set the records straight. In it, we are able to see a rich and comprehensive documentation of his contributions to the growth and development of Ghana. I am sure that the book reviewer and the chief launcher will give us deeper insights into the book,” he said.
Prof. Agyeman-Duah said he did not write the book to glorify the achievements of the former Head of State although “he deserves accolades in many respects”.
He said the book, which presented a composite picture of how General Acheampong with humble beginnings, emerged into national leadership, was written to fill a historical void.
“This book has a primary objective of filling a historical void that had been created deliberately by those who deposed the General and impressed on the population that nothing significant ever happened in the country during his leadership. By doing so, they denied generations coming after him the full benefit of the country’s history,” Prof. Agyeman-Duah said.
He said what prompted him to write the book was the near-absence of narratives about him in contemporary Ghanaian political history.
“For someone who determined the destiny of our country for nearly seven years, I simply could not attribute this historical vacuum to the usual case of Ghanaians having a short memory,” he said.
Prof. Agyeman-Duah explained that the data and information that was used to write the book was taken from both primary and secondary sources.
“The data collected provided me with a wealth of information and insights on the life and times of General Acheampong. From the assembled data, I constructed a comprehensive profile for the General- his birth in 1931 and early years, his education and early adult life, his enlistment in the Gold Coast Army in 1953, the coup d’etat he led in 1972 and the two overlapping regimes he led as Head of State, his policies and programmes for development and the leadership crises that tragically ended his life,” he said.
Prof. Agyeman Duah said one of the revealing moments during the research for the book was when he found that Gen Acheampong who completed Regular Officers Special Training School (ROSTS) in Course 10 did not have his name on the official roster at the Ghana Military Academy.
“As one reviewer has said about the book, it sheds light on some of the most important but little-known dark passages in our national history,” Prof. Agyeman-Duah said.
The book launch was well attended by members of the academia, politicians, diplomats and titans from the business community.
Some notable personalities who graced the occasion were Prof. Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, Prof. Audrey Gadzekpo, Mr. Kabral Blay Amihere, Sir Sam Jonah, among others.
It was also attended by the family of Gen. Acheampong, including his wife, Mrs. Faustina Acheampong, and his son, Mr. Anthony Acheampong.