Remembering February 24, 1966: Why Kotoka overthrew Nkrumah

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

February 24, 2013 marked 47 years since Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown by the National Liberation Council (NLC) under the leadership of General Emmanuel K. Kotoka. This exclusive interview by veteran and seasoned journalist and retired editor of the Christian Messenger, Mr G.B.K. OWUSU, gives an insight into the how and why the coup took place.

OWUSU: Why did you overthrow Dr. Kwame Nkrumah?

KOTOKA: The downward trend in our economic affairs resulting in high cost of living. This is due especially to extravagant use of the country’s funds on prestige projects and generally to maladministration, bribery and corruption, nepotism, special treatment of party activists, injustice, suppression and detention of political opponents and general disregard for the constitution.

OWUSU: Generally the NLC enjoys the support of almost all Ghanaians and peace-loving people of the world but not unnaturally the beneficiaries of Nkrumah would have wished him back as president. What safeguards have the NLC provided as security of the state in such a situation?

KOTOKA: I believe the beneficiaries who would like Nkrumah to come back are very few, indeed. It is well known that though some enjoy his generosity they know in their heart of hearts that what they are earning was undeserved. Although they might be sympathisers, it is feel that most of them will do nothing to bring them back. However, normal security measures have been taken to prevent actions of subversion, and any person proved to be subversive will be mercilessly dealt with.

OWUSU: Of what use will Nkrumah’s secret military camps be put?

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KOTOKA: Although this has not been fully decided, some may be used by the National Army for training purposes.

OWUSU: Now that the disbanded presidential guards have been absorbed into the Army, what observation have you made in respect of their attitude and deportment since the coup?

KOTOKA: Members of the disbanded presidential guards were recruited from the National Army, whether they liked it or not. Having been absorbed back into the National Army they are actually relieved and are very happy among their old friends.

OWUSU:  Conscious of the risk involved in the operation of the coup, did you Sir, make any provision for your family in event it proved futile?

KOTOKA: I did not for one moment think of its failure. At any rate I knew my family and any relative of mine would have been killed in case of failure. Therefore, I made no provision for them.

OWUSU: As the Commander of the Ghana Armed Forces, what are your immediate plans?

KOTOKA: I wish I could tell you; but military plans are always secret.

OWUSU: What changes have you observed in the Ghana press since the fall of Nkrumah?

KOTOKA: The press is now free to publish whatever they like within, of course, the normal regulations. They have been doing so, even to extent of criticising the NLC.

OWUSU:  Could you furnish me with the background of the coup?


OWUSU: Thank you very much for your patience. God bless you and the members of the NLC.