CAUSES OF THE 1966 COUP IN GHANA

CAUSES OF THE 1966 COUP IN GHANA

The coup was masterminded by a man called Kotaka of Kumasi infantry brigade. Nkrumah was overthrown when he had gone to Vietnam to attend a public meeting. After the coup a national liberation council was instituted led by General Ankrah, this committee led Ghana until power was passed on to Dr. Busia in 1969 when his party (progressive party) won the elections.




  • Change of character. The once humble flexible Nkrumah commonly known as Osagyefo (the redeemer) turned into a selfish and arrogant leader such that by 1960 he only trusted himself and stopped accepting constructive ideas. This worked to make him unpopular and in 1966 he was overthrown.
  • Open dictatorship. He harassed his critics for example when the United party was formed in 1957, the following year 1958 Nkrumah introduced the preventive detention act such that 1960-65 about 1361 people had be detained without trial. These included JB Danquar who even died in prison.
  • Nkrumah raped the Ghanaian constitution. He issued the republican constitution of 1960 which gave him excessive powers. He appointed, dismissed the civil servants any time for example in August 1962 after an attempted assassination he ordered the arrest of Tawia Adamafoe, Kofi Crabble and Ako Adjei though Nkrumah insisted that Adamafoe was guilty he quoted no evidence and in reaction he dismissed the chief justice and other judges. He even went on to sentence ministers to death. This had gone too far.




  • Nkrumah reduced the freedom of journalists by censoring the press for example the daily graphic was under strict censorship apart from the government papers like the Accra evening news and the Ghanaian times. This was not expected of liberator and the result was a coup.
  • The strong espionage system. Nkrumah sent spies all over the country, he even set up a presidential guard run by Russians and a special intelligence unit led by Ambrose Yankeey and a number of potential and actual enemies of Nkrumah were harassed.
  • Rigging the elections. This was open in 1964 January referendum which was to decide whether Ghana was to become a one party state or remain multi party, it was also to decide whether the president had powers to dismiss high court judges. Nkrumah rigged and got 2,773,920 in favor of his views and only 2452 against him, what he did in 1965 was even more ashaming. In the morning of the day of voting parliamentarians, Nkrumah announced the elected MPs on radio to the extent that some MPs did not know the location of their constituencies.




  • The 1965 assassination attempt on Nkrumah’s life left so many things behind to admire. Nkrumah reacted by dismissing and detaining a number of policemen suspected of the plot. This therefore separated the police from Nkrumah such that the police commissioner Harley and his deputy Deku joined the real plot against Nkrumah in 1966.
  • The grievances of the army. The majority were lowly paid, poorly fed and clothed and promotions were not on merit. By 1966 a good number wanted Nkrumah ousted.
  • Exhaustion of Nkrumah’s army. They fought useless wars for instance between 1961 and 1965 Nkrumah sent the Ghanaian army to Congo to crush the secessionist tendencies. General Afrifa wondered why Nkrumah was intervening in the affairs of another country at a great cost of Ghanaian lives and finances. This explains why Nkrumah was over thrown in 1966.
  • Nkrumah’s over ambitiousness. He started so many things at the same time for example the ten miles Accra to Tema motor highway, the Volta river project, and very many schools, State farms and twenty seven state factories. This was very good but too much for a poor country like Ghana. Soon there was no money to complete the projects and he turned to borrowing. By the time of his departure Ghana had a large debt burden something that was exploited by his opponents to overthrow him.




  • Rampant corruption. Most of the people he appointed turned to enjoy luxurious life, built expensive mansions, expensive cars, Nkrumah himself opened up accounts in foreign banks and spent excessively on his girl friends and birthdays. This drained the state treasury.
  • The economic hardships and bankruptcy of the Ghanaian government. This resulted into Inflation, unemployment and poverty especially when the cocoa prices fell. This was easily noticed by December 1965. The discontented masses then organized a coup in February 1966.
  • The failure of socialism also caused him problems. He set up an institution at Inneba to teach socialist ideology and politicized soldiers. In 1961 he toured socialist states and persecuted politicians who did not succumb to socialist ideology. This cost him popularity.
  • Foreign intrigue. He put restrictions to European capitalists and this specifically annoyed USA and the Western block which then funded the army to organize a coup against Nkrumah.
  • Failure of constitutional means to remove Nkrumah. He had turned himself irreplaceable (a redeemer). He had therefore to be removed by the gun.




  • The influence of the other coups in Africa for example the 1952 coup in Egypt, 1963 in Togo, 1965 in Congo had a demonstration effect on the side of soldiers in Ghana.
  • Nkrumah weakened the parliament of Ghana bribed them so as to prevent opposition, he bribed them and those who refused were harassed for example Dr. Bussia had fled to exile and by 1960 the number of opposition had increased. Such resulted into the 1966 coup.

RELATED POSTS

2 thoughts on “CAUSES OF THE 1966 COUP IN GHANA”

  1. Pingback: FACTORS FOR THE RISE, GROWTH, AND DEVELOPMENT OF AFRICAN NATIONALISM

  2. Pingback: ROLES OF GHANA AND NKWAME NKRUMAH IN THE DECOLONISATION PROCESS OF AFRICA

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: