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Why OccupyGhana has not staged a protest before – Ankomah, Casely-Hayford explain

Many have accused them of being silent since the inception of the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led administration.

Their silence was described as an inability to challenge the government they claim to be part of because a leading member, George Andah, became a deputy minister during the first term of the NPP government.

Many thought that after the Occupy Flagstaff House demonstration, which metamorphosed into the formation of a Civil Society Organisation in 2014, Occupy Ghana; there was going to be similar demonstrations given that the issues they protested over pertained under the current New Patriotic Party, NPP, government.

But two leaders of the group which was formed after a ‘middle-class’ demonstration in 2014 have been explaining why they are not on the streets demonstrating.

Ace Ankomah and Sydney Casely-Hayford leading members of OccupyGhana during an interview on Citi TV’s ‘The Point of View’ show, Monday, September 5, explained:

“OccupyGhana did not exist on July 1, 2014. We attended [Occupy Flagstaff House] as individuals. We started meeting afterwards, the group – OccupyGhana – was formed in September. The people who should take the credit are not being credited with it.

“This is a group of young men and a woman who were called ‘concern citizens for responsible governance’. I was there for no more than 30 minutes…after I sat in my car and went away. I’m awfully flattered that my 15 seconds cameo is what brought a government down, when at the time they laughed at us…

“OccupyGhana has never staged a demonstration; we have never done that as a group because when we were founded, we said our battle is for the hearts and minds. We decided that our fights will be for the hearts and minds and that we will stage an intellectual battle in an arena that you can’t physically beat us.

“And so, since we were founded, we had simply issued statements. The fact that it’s been hyperbolized means that it has had more effects than they will admit. The group itself has never been on the streets that is a point.

“There was an Occupy Flagstaff House event; we admit that we all met at that event and afterwards we started our operations. We can’t take the credit for it; we won’t take any credit for the #RedMonday – we did not organise it; it is all CSOs expect OccupyGhana. We were drawn in at a later stage but we are happy [it happened].

“People receive us differently…When we decided to do OccupyGhana, we had a small task force and they were given the opportunity to draft where we were going, as a result of that, some people fell out; the end argument was that we will bring about more permanent change if we go to court and sort a matter out in court, and the court agrees with what we are doing, it is actually promulgated or acted upon and it made sense to most of us…

“Before we issue a statement, we do in-depth research that is why so far, nobody has been able to sue us for defamation…anyone who has a problem with us and thinks that we should do more, please do it.”

About Occupy Flagstaff House

In 2014, a group calling itself Concerned Ghanaians for Responsible Governance (CGRG) – and claiming to be of a middle-class extraction – emerged in the democratic space to call for an amelioration of the daily economic hardships Ghanaians were facing.

The group assembled at the Efua Sutherland Children’s Park in the capital, Accra, and marched to the Flagstaff House, the seat of the government, to present a petition to then-President John Dramani Mahama.

This protest by relatively well-off professionals – christened #occupyflagstaffhouse – was triggered by the deteriorating economic situation and governance in the country at the time. The cedi’s instability and depreciation against major currencies was cited as a major factor.

The currency crisis was compounded by low access to water, health, rising levels of joblessness and worsening inequality, utility price hikes and lack of reliable energy for both domestic and commercial purposes. Corruption involving senior public officials and their cronies was also highlighted.

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