By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | ACCRA | 22 January 2024 (IDN) — Ghana’s political leaders are facing heat for their last-minute cancellation of a conference of students and populist leaders, one activist called “the Nkrumahs of Africa.”
After receiving news of the last-minute cancellation, hundreds of student leaders, locked out of the conference, rallied at Independence Plaza in Accra. According to organizers, they received approval for the event in November 2023.
Nana Oye Ankrah, a freelance journalist, opined: “Ghana’s government is clearly unwilling to accommodate events that could make them look bad in an election year.”
“The move to use security forces to enforce the cancellation suggests a deeper fear that the populism gripping some young people elsewhere in the continent could spread to Ghana.”
Ghana is currently grappling with the worst economic crisis in a generation in which the skyrocketing cost of living is leading to widespread frustration. The fact that just two parties have governed since the move in 1922 to multi-party democracy means that young adults who have never experienced another form of leadership could be hungry for change.
Among the invited speakers to the conference were Prof. P.L.O. Lumumba, director of the Kenya School of Law, Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, medical doctor, educator, and former Permanent Representative of the African Union to the U.S., former governor of Anambra State. Peter Obi of Nigeria, and Julius Malema, founder and leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters of South Africa.
“Our Nkrumah is gone. But …”
“Let me be clear,” said one Ghanaian activist. “Our Nkrumah is gone. But there are other Nkrumahs. Julius Malema is one. Professor Lumumba is one. “These are the Nkrumahs of Africa. Now we’re here and we’re told the conference is cancelled. Why? We are bitter, we are pained, we are very sad.”
In a letter to event organizers, Ghana’s Chief of Staff, H.M. Wood, explained that cancellation of the conference was necessitated by “an unforeseen State Event scheduled to take place at the same venue… Under the circumstances, the amount of 10,000 Ghana cedis paid by your office for use of the venue will be refunded.”
The event was also intended to unveil the proposed candidacy for president of Nana Kwame Bediako, also known as Freedom Jacob Caesar or Cheddar. A wealthy young Ghanaian businessman and property developer, Bediako’s picture and message “Nana Kwame Bediako for President #thenewforce has now been posted across Accra. His New Force campaign aims to challenge Ghana’s two main parties.
Oye Ankrah expressed doubt that a new party bringing a new president to power could succeed.” “It would take time, money and a nationwide party infrastructure to break the political duopoly enjoyed by the main parties,” he said. “But Ghanaian authorities have reasons to be worried.” [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Locked out students. Source: Global Information Network
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