“The truth is bitter and so it hurts when told”
Those who know me can attest to the strong stand I always take when it comes to defending Ex- President Rawlings. My passion for his ideas and personality is evidenced in the fact that, some of my writings have been devoted to the defense of June 4 and it’s events. Thus leading to the 2008 general elections, NDC found it useful to publish one of my articles on their web site without my knowledge and consent. The disregard for my efforts was enough for a legal action which friends did impress upon me to take but for the love of the Party and my admiration for Chairman Rawlings, I refused to exercise that right. Rawlings himself also quoted from the same article to buttress his point in a lecture he delivered during the 10th anniversary celebration of the installation of the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.
The Changing Times
It is said, “Those who refuse to adjust to a change, will be consumed by the change itself.”
My admiration for Rawlings as stated above has quickly faded away due to his refusal to adjust to the changing times. The continued vocal outburst and the uncalled for criticisms being meted out to his successors and those he may have some issues with has become a rap music to listen to. These happenings in the past few years demanded that I should express my observant opinion on them as I see it. I am not the man to follow any other human being blindly. He (Rawlings) can continue to manipulate some others all the time but not us the reasoning ones. He is losing very fast many of his hardcore supporters who are drifting away from his shore because he sees nothing in the changing times.
Ghanaians applauded Rawlings when he accepted defeat and handed over power in 2000 to his opponents. The expectation was that having been at the helms for 19 years, he would retire from active politics or take a back seat for some time to fully adapt to a life outside the Castle. Little did we know he’ll never let go the joy of power. Not quite long when he started to miss that joy, he begun to stand on the toes of the young NPP Government booming left and right. The Kufour Administration did not take the booms lightly and responded in equal terms by bashing him (Rawlings) here and there. What a pity that an Ex-President was being insulted by NPP activists on all fronts. To add insult to injury, he was restricted from visiting any Military Installation for fear he might use the Military to destabilize the Government. Came with that was the many allegations of Coup plots against him without any single proof. His Diplomatic Privileges (Protocol) was also taken away. Meaning he has to carry his own luggage wherever he goes and on return. The wife Nana Konadu was hurled before the courts on corruption charges pertaining (to) the buying of Nsawan Cannery by 31st December Women’s Movement. J. J. himself was also invited earlier by the police for questioning. It took the rally of supporters that put pressure on the Government to discontinue the invitations. Every court visit by the wife saw NDC and other sympathizers in their numbers to support her. Relief only came to her when NPP lost the 2008 elections that she was pardoned before the hand over of power.
The One Man Show
It needs to be pointed out clearly that Rawlings was part of the NDC’s lost of power in 2000. Instead of him allowing the Party’s constitution to play, he sidelined every provision and single handedly declared Professor Atta Mills (may his soul rest in peace) as the flagbearer in what later came to be known as ‘The Swedru Declaration”. Though ordinary party supporters shouted in acceptance, it brought discontent and division. It made it possible for some vibrant cadres who disliked the idea to breakaway to form the National Reform Party to contest the 1999 elections at the expense of the NDC. Regardless of the factors one looks at when analyzing the effect of the NRP on the fortunes of the NDC, one thing is certain, that they took away some votes from the NDC whether marginal or large. This could have been avoided had Rawlings been able to use consensus-building to achieve his objective.
The 2004 election results was strongly contested by Rawlings till today and he insisted at the time that Professor Mills lead a massive demonstration of supporters in the form of “People’s Power” to force the annulment of the results. Professor Mills, as peaceful a man he was rejected those calls which he knew would bring chaos and accepted defeat in humility. He was thereafter awarded the inspirational title “Asomdwehene” by the good people of Ghana.
The learned professor was again elected the flag bearer to lead the NDC for the 2008 elections. It was a decisive victory with party unity at it’s best. However, problems started to surface when the Rawlingses begun to dictate as to who the Vice-Presidential candidate should be. Mr. Peaceful, Prof. Atta Mills stood his ground again and refused their demand. In all democratic Political Parties structures, nobody but the flagbearer alone can decide who he wants as his running mate. Why then should it be different at that time? That is how manipulative the Rawlingses can be.
Professor Mills And NDC Back In Power
The 2008 General elections was the most hotly contested and troubled elections in the political history of the country. It was the first time that an election had to go into a third round. However, Ghanaians as peaceful as we are remained very calm through out till the final dawn. Though it was clear who the winner was after the second round, technicality demanded a third round for one single constituency. The Tain Constituency in the Brong Ahafo Region became the reluctant King Maker. NDC emerged the final victor. However, the handing over became problematic as a result of the time spent on the third round with only seven days left to the handing over ceremony. Things had to be done expeditiously in order to avoid a constitutional fall out.
Barely three weeks into the new administration, Prof. Mills was bombarded with loudspeaker noises of being too slow. Vengeance calls were coming from one particular angle for past government officials to be tried and imprisoned in order to taste the same treatment they meted out to Tsikata, Selormey, Peprah and others. Laws are made to be walked not to be jumped over. The choice of appointees especially Ministers and advisers was another problem to mighty Rawlings. His perceived Greedy Bastards and Old Evil Dwarfs were finding their way back to the Castle, which he could not sleep with. Then came calling the whole President of the Republic a “Konongo Kaya”. What can be worse? Only few personalities like Prof. Mills can absorb such vituperative descriptions.
2012 Flagbearer Elections
Problems started to surface soon after the NDC returned to power due to the constant criticism from the founder. Not only were the criticisms uncalled for but the language in which it was being delivered was, to say the least, appalling from an ex-president. Added to this were the unbridled and unsubstantiated allegations of corruption. It was clear to many of us that the founder felt being left out from the decision-making and the only way he could let his presence be felt was to make his usual loud noises. All these and other factors brought about divisions in the party resulting in the so-called Atta Mills and Rawlings Camps.
It was no surprise that both factions were at loggerheads. By now, the Rawlings’ faction was plotting how the founder could re-exert his control over the party. That scheming resulted in Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings’ decision to contest the Vice-Chairperson position at the Tamale Congress in 2010, which she successfully won. The beginning of things to come.
Earlier, Friends of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings (FONKAR) was formed purposely to spearhead the campaign to challenge Professor Mills for the Party leadership. In all these, the founder and his wife remained very silent. When they decided to open up, they denied knowledge of the objectives of the group. Jerry John Rawlings went further on to say his wife was not interested in the presidency. Well, we will later on come to realize that it was a calculative plan. During the Party congress in Tamale, there were some few number of Mrs. Rawlings’ supporters carrying banners asking her to seek the leadership of the party, yet still no one saw those signs as a background work for her, at least not at that time.
Out from the Tamale Congress, FONKAR vigorously began the campaign for Konadu to contest President Mills. In most political establishments, it makes political sense to let the sitting President go unopposed when seeking the mandate of members to lead the party again. There were rumors running around that Nana Konadu was planning to contest the President for the Party leadership. Everyone adopted a let’s wait to see approach. Later on to the surprise of many, she announced her ambitions to contest the president with the full support of her husband as always. No matter the forces that necessitated such a move, though constitutionally right, politically it was wrong. Moreso, when the contestant in question is the wife of the Party founder, whose primary responsibility is to ensure that unity prevails in the party. By supporting and openly canvassing for votes for his wife, Rawlings underestimated the coming of age of the NDC. She ended up with only 3.1% of the total ballots cast at the Sunyani congtress in 2011, an ingredient that caused deeper cracks in the party. The logo of the party became a contentious issue for the Rawlingses. A sour taste of their will to further sink the Party.
Mills’ Death, Rawlings Interview and Protocol Disaster
On July 24, 2012, Ghanaians returned from lunch to hear the sad news of their beloved President was dead. At that time, mentor J.J. Rawlings was far away in Equatorial Guinea when the news reached him. As a Statesman and former Head of State, he should have waited to get more understanding of how it happened before making any comment. Within minutes after the news broke out, BBC contacted him for his view. Once again, as characteristic of him, he veered out of control. His comments were not only unacceptable but also heartbreaking. He told the BBC that “was the late president given wise counsel, he would have lived for another six months”. This was very painful and insulting to the Ghanaian mind. It offended many especially the family, close and distant relatives. Was Rawlings telling us that human beings have control over death? That six months will be forever? There was no real understanding of the six months comment, however, I can only put it that it was a calculated political comment, because he (Rawlings) was planning Mills’ defeat behind the scenes in the coming polls so he (J.J) wished the Prof. should have lived to face that lost of power. I can’t interpret it any other way. Letting not that go, he displayed the most bizarre Protocol blunder during the burial ceremony when he disobeyed normal protocol directives and jumped over everybody to pay his last respect to the mortal remains before directing the current president, John Mahama to do same. He also left the burial grounds thereafter before the president of the Republic. A clear “buga buga” mentality.
NDP’s Inaugural Congress
The formation and outdooring of the National Democratic Party (NDP) was purposely to undermine the NDC. This can better be analyzed in the speech at the inaugural congress by the invited special guest Jerry John Rawlings. He made it clear that a proper revolt will rock the NDC party after the impending elections, which he foresaw many of its Parliamentary candidates losing. Coupled with the bad mouthing at the congress was the unexpected visit to them by archenemy ‘Akuffo Addo. His (Addo’s) rush to pay courtesy a few days to the lunch of the NDP speaks volumes that a grand design was at play and Nana Addo’s desperation to make amends everywhere necessary at all cost. Whatever it was, it only exposes the Rawlingses more than we could think as to what their real intentions are. No one cares if they decide to drink coffee in the same cup with their enemy; the only worrying factor was the timing and the agenda which none can tell.
The legitimate question that needed to be asked however is, why was the many requests to meet J.J by his own party men whom he accused of offending him to thrash out any misunderstanding turned down? Prominent people in life also tried as much as they could to reconcile the late President Mills and Rawlings but no path possible could be found on Jerry’s part to walk on. The most painful of all was the conditional snub he handed to the delegation of Volta Chiefs that went to find solution to the problem between him and late President Mills knowing very well it’ll be impossible to work on. That not withstanding, he shamelessly garner courage later to visit the temple of the same chiefs to as usual preach his probity Gospel to them.
With all these, why wouldn’t babies grow sharp teeth to bite?
To conclude, I should make it clear that tolerance coupled with the endurance of Ghanaians has made Rawlings the political nuisance in our society, that he sees himself always as the only righteous Ghanaian but for everybody else is corrupt and could not stand the test of probity, the “holier than thou” attitude of the Junior Jesus of our time. To me, he (Rawlings) have no moral high ground to hijack the words of corruption, justice, probity and accountability. For the holy war he waged was to eliminate corruption from the surface of the Ghana landscape. That justice, probity and accountability will be implanted in all to move the country forward in an uncorruptible match. Tried as much as he could, corruption returned to the fore by the time he left power. That’s Rawlings miserable failure.
Addressing the Ghanaian community in Tokyo while visiting Japan in 1997, Ex- President Rawlings admitted he has failed in his crusade to eliminate corruption to the dismay of the audience. This was what he actually said quoting him directly ” When I was an idealist, I thought corruption can be wiped out” At the time, many corruption in his administration were being whispered into our ears. By admitting his grand failure, Rawlings should have let the word “CORRUPTION” to rest in it’s graveyard if not in the grave itself. That however, was never to be. Corruption is still kicking out from his loud mouth anytime he opens it. Perhaps, ignorance is cycling around him.
Finally, Chairman Rawlings should be told in plain words that, though his intervention brought many good things, it shouldn’t be a key for him to hold Ghana and Ghanaians hostage. It is high time now he keeps the silence and let others carry on from where he left. Enough with his unguarded utterances.
The opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views or have the endorsement of the Editorial Board of www.africanewsanalysis.com and www.africa-forum.net