Brief Profile: Ignatius Kutu Acheampong

General I.K. Acheampong

The OmanbaPa Research Group

As part of our efforts to travel back to the memory lane, we shall randomly, be focusing on some of the past times of Ghanaian statesmen and women.…

JusticeGhana Military Personality today is General I.K Acheampong

General I.K. Acheampong, together with General Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa and General Federick William Kwasi Akuffo alongside five senior military officers: Amedume, Boakye, Felli, Kotei and Utuka, were executed by firing squad on 26 June 1979.

This was after the 4 June Uprising, staged by the then Captain Kojo Boakye Djan. The June 4 Military coup ushered in the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), which was to be headed by one Flt-Lt Jerry John Rawlings.

Born on 23 September 1931, in Kumase, Asante Region, young Kutu’s early education began in Trabuom Elementary School, St. Peter’s Catholic School, Kumase, and Central College of Commerce, at Agona Swedru, in the Central Region. He had to his credit Middle School Certificate; GCE ‘O’ Level and a Diploma in Commerce.

Acheampong then undertook various jobs related to his qualifications until he was enlisted into the Gold Coast Frontier Force as a recruit in 1951.  Like the late Colonel Baidoo, Private Acheampong, rose through the ranks and by 1969, had become one of the few influential Akan military officers in the Ghana Armed Forces.

According to military historians, this brought Acheampong closer to civilian politics when power was handed over to democratically elected government of Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia in 1969.

Rumours have it that the then “Brigade-Major” Acheampong, upon recommendation of former Head of State General Afrifa, became not only a close pal to Prime Minister Busia but also, to his ruling Progress Party (PP) which he toppled on 13 January 1972.

Col Acheampong, later General, ruled as a head of state of Ghana from that date until his second-in-command, General F.W.K Akufo also deposed him in a palace coup on 5 July 1978.

Acheampong’s National Redemption Council (NRC) which he formed in the early years of his rule but later transformed into the Supreme Military Council on 9 October 1975, when he promoted himself from a Colonel to a General, is said to be one of the successful military regimes in Ghana’s political history.

The most cited policies of the said Nkrumahist sympathizer Acheampong, were the introduction and implementation of the change from the imperial to the metric system of measurement and the change from driving on the left to right-hand drive- dubbed: “Operation Keep Right” (Nifa, nifa… naa nyin).

Genereal Ignatius Kutu Acheampong had passion for agriculture so his Agriculture Commissioner- Colonel Bernasko, sought to imprint development based on ‘Operation Feed Yourself’- self-reliance in agriculture, in the minds of the Ghanaian.

Acheampong’s regime is well remembered for its National Reconstruction initiative geared towards employment promotion and skill training for workers. Projects such street lights reconstruction and upgrading of stadia to meet global standards, can hardly be ignored.

But not only these- the introduction of the Charter of Redemption and the National Pledge recited in schools, are perhaps, enduring legacies that successive regimes have failed to uphold. So, Acheampong could be described as a leader who promoted national unity.

There were indeed, other side of the coin. General Acheampong’s drive to make himself president for life through the foiled Union Government(UNIGOV), raised many eyebrows not only within his own military commissioners but also, among the Ghanaian population who recently escaped Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s one party state Government- the CPP, toppled on 24 February 1966.

So, in a referendum which took place on 30 March 1978 to decide on the question of whether the Ghanaian was to accept or reject the emerging military-cum-civilian political rearrangement, majority of the intellectuals opposed the idea.

Yet, the result swung in the SMC regime’s favour. As usual a hooping 60.11 per cent said yes to the UNIGOV, while some 39.89% scorned at the  military-cum-civial political concept and accordingly, kicked against it. This ignited the usual allegations of voting rigging and its associated finger-pointings.

For for example, Justice Isaac Kobina Abban- the then electoral commissioner, who later became Chief Justice, went into hiding for fear of his life and the pressure to manipulate the results. This could be probably equated to the outcome of the the just-ended 07 December 2008 general election.

All these, coupled with alleged widespread corruption- known then as kalabule and the yentua diplomatic posture [reluctance to pay both deomestic and international debts accrued by his previous], obviously, perverted the said God-fearing, sympathetic and humorous military leader.

As was to be expected, his SMC regime, eventually brought to a political shame and his eventual overthrow and confinement to his Trabuom village and death.

General Acheampong and his colleagues, were hastily court-martialled, charged and executed for allegedly exploiting among others, the military profession to amass wealth.

More recently, Major Djan submitted that their seniours were killed because they unlawfully overthrew civilian regimes- and here, the First and the Second Republican Constitutions of 1957 and 1969.

…History is indeed written from class or ideological perspective!




Written by

Gina is the Director of Health and Publisher, JusticeGhana Group.

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