A Sissala native from Gwollu in the Upper West Region was some 42 years ago today, sworn into office as Ghana’s second Executive President of the country's Third Republic. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was the country’s first Executive President with Edward Akufo Addo, the first Ghanaian ceremonial President in 1969.
The man in question was also a diplomat par-excellent and became the first Ghanaian to occupy the highest of the land from Ghana’s Northern territories. The next in chain from the North to become Ghana’s President, is John Dramani Mahama, the immediate past President of the Republic.
Dr. Hilla Limann, was little known in Ghanaian politics when his name popped up as the possible presidential candidate of the People’s National Party (PNP), an offshoot of the Convention People’s Party tradition in the Third Republican elections.
Dr. Limann’s uncle, Alhaji Imoro Egala, who was widely tipped to be the presidential nominee of the PNP was disqualified by a Commission of Enquiry that vetted all presidential aspirants in the 1979 elections. Egala thus brought down his nephew, Dr. Hilla Limann, to become the presidential candidate of the PNP.
It was also the time Rawlings burst onto the Ghanaian political scene, first through his abortive May 15th, 1979 uprising and later from a military court marshal, which outcome would have been a possible death sentence, to become the Head of State of Ghana.
Rawlings was released from prison cells by architects of the June 4th, 1979 coup d'etat, to chair the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) that was set up after the June 4th uprising. The AFRC junta however did not disrupt the time-table to return the country to a civilian administration. It was a timetable drawn by General Akufo's SMC 2 administration that overthrew General Acheampong's SMC1 regime.
The Third Republican election as expected, was organized on 18th June, 1979; with a run-off on July 9th, 1979. Dr. Limann polled 35.32 percent as against 29.86 percent by his closest rival Victor Owusu. This represents the ballot counts after the first round of the 1979 elections.
Others who took part in the presidential election were William Ofori Atta (Paa Willie) of the United National Convention (UNC), Colonel Frank George Bernasko of the Action Congress Party (ACP), the Social Democratic Congress (SDC) of Alhaji Ibrahim Mahama and John Bilson of the Third Force Party (TFP).
Other independent candidates who took part in the election included Dr. R.P Baffour, Kwame Nyanteh, Mark Diamond Nii Addy and Alhaji Imoro Ayarna. The election finally had to be decided in a run off because none of the two leading candidates received more than half of the total votes cast.
Dr. Limann obtained 62.0% in the July 9th 1979 run-off, whilst his PNP had 71 MPs out of the 140 Parliamentary seats. Victor Owusu had close to 40% during the second round voting and his party, the PFP had 42 Members of Parliament.
The free nature of the ’79 elections was underscored by the manner all of the presidential candidates congratulated Dr. Limann on his victory. Till today, the ’79 elections, is still considered as the best in our political journey.
The AFRC stayed on course and thus handed over power to Dr. Limann and his PNP administration on September 24th, 1979, exactly 42years today. Limann’s western training influenced greatly his system of governance. He supported democratic governance to the core.
It must be stated that it was during Dr. Limann’s rein that for the first time in Ghanaian political history, a budget of a sitting President, was rejected by Parliament, a chamber that was dominated by Dr. Limann’s PNP. Unfortunately for Dr. Limann, he was ousted by the very man who handed over power to him.
On his second coming Rawlings argued that he had to intervene to safe Ghana from the weak leadership of Dr. Limann. In fact, Limann’s PNP was in serious turmoil at the time; and Limann had lost his hold on the party; making it easier for Rawlings to justify why he should return to the pinnacle of Ghana's politics.
That was on 31st December 1981, barely 27 months into the administration of Dr. Limann. However, Dr. Limann bounced back when ban on partisan politics was lifted to usher in the 4th Republic in 1992.
After their irreconcilable differences, many Nkrumaists groupings formed their own political parties. One of them, Dr. Hila Limann formed the People’s National Convention (PNC) to contest the 1992 elections. He came third behind Rawlings’ National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Albert Adu Boahen’s New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Dr. Hilla Limann’s working experience
Before he came into politics Dr. Limann had been a thorough diplomat. He first worked as the Head of the Europe Desk at Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1965 and 1968. He became a member of the Constitution Commission that drafted up Ghana’s 2nd Republican constitution of 1969.
He left that office in his capacity as the Head of Chancery/Official Secretary at the Ghana Embassy in Lome, Togo and later in 1971, served as the Counsellor at Permanent Ghana Mission in Geneva, Switzerland.
He later held the position of Head of Europe Desk responsible for the Americas, Southeast Asia at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 1975 and later retired from Ghana’s Foreign Affairs and relocated to France to engage in Diplomatic Consultancy to many foreign governments.
Born to a regular Ghanaian family, Dr. Limann, hails from Gwollu in what is today known as the Sissala West District of the Upper West Region. He nonetheless, managed to reach the highest level of appointment in the Civil Service.
It was all because he managed to scale over all obstacles through education. Like many Ghanaian children at the time, Limann completed his basic education at the Government Middle School, Tamale, from 1939 to 1949.
He then enrolled at the London School of Economics from 1957 to 1960, where he studied Political Science and later went to the Sorbonne University in France where he obtained Diploma in the study of the French language.
Dr. Limann would later obtain BA(Hons) degree in History at the University of London and a Ph.D in Political Science and Constitutional Law at the University of Paris, France. Dr. Limann was born December 12th, 1934 and died on January 23rd, 1998. He died of what doctors said were of natural causes after protracted health related problems.
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