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General News of Saturday, 27 October 2012

Source: The Herald

Rawlings Dodges NPP Trap

Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings, last Wednesday, cleverly maneuvered his way through an intricate web of political trap set for him by the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and ended up with a blistering attack on the Kufuor regime, accusing it of victimization, murders and the corruption of state institutions, specially the military, with tribalism.

With an unrestrained radio air time and many journalists at his disposal, Mr. Rawlings, specifically accused ex-President Kufuor’s brother, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor of crashing the integrity of the military while serving as the Defence Minister, by recruiting unqualified people with fake examination results in an effort to tribalize the military with Akans.

Mr. Rawlings suggested that the failure of Prof. John Mills, to investigate and deal ruthlessly with the corrupt elements who operated in the Kufuor regime, was his biggest beef with the late President, who died some 93 days, ago.

From all indications, last Wednesday’s venture plotted by ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor’s Presidential Press Secretary, Andrew Awuni, for Mr. Rawlings to chastise the government, turned out to be an expensive gamble, which heavily crashed.

Mr. Awuni, a failed NPP parliamentary aspirant for the Bongo Constituency in the Upper West Region, opened the floor with a catalogue of corruption claims which are on the lips of most NPP members, especially its flagbearer Nana Akufo- Addo, against the present government to justify his claim that corruption has become pervasive.

The ex-Presidential Press Secretary cited instances such as the inflation of contract prices, awarding of contracts through sole sourcing and a recent “afro barometer” report by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), and said the corruption phenomenon was rising.

But the ex-Air Force pilot did not fall for the trap. He instead spent enough time bashing the Kufuor regime for covering up three high-profile murder cases namely: the killing of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II; the ex-CPP Northern Regional Chairman Isaah Mobilla; and the serial killing of 34 Ghanaian women.

Speaking on corruption at the “3rd Power Freedom Lectures” organized by the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy in Accra, Mr. Rawlings, further slammed the Kufuor administration for victimizing members of the NDC after the 2000 General Elections, and also broke a promise he made to the NPP flag bearer recently, not to call him a “short man”.

He revealed that 70 percent of highly qualified pilots of the Ghana Air Force, were hounded out of the country after Mr. Kufuor took over from him as president.

He said because the Kufuor-led government was corrupt, they went all out to corrupt every state institution, adding that had Mr. Kufuor maintained the high level of integrity that an institution like the military had at the time he (Rawlings) was exiting office, Mr. Kufuor would have been flying high today.

The ex-President said so credible was the state institutions during his time in office that, had he attempted to hang onto power he would have been killed by the soldiers.

Mr. Rawlings, took issues with the sale of state lands, citing in particular the land directly opposite 37 Military Hospital in Accra, which he said had been sold to a company called by Trassaco, owned by Don Ernesto Taricone to build plush housing apartment and hotels.

The ex-president was of the view, that the place should be used to rather build an annex to the 37 Military Hospital, which was crying for an extension due to over-stretched facilities, and hoped Mr. John Dramani Mahama would do something about the situation.

“I will like to appeal to him to work on extending the military hospital to be able to take care of the numerous medical cases faced in Accra,” Mr. Rawlings said, after accusing Ernesto Taricone of corruption, saying he is into dirty deals with the Kufuor family as well as some officials of the present government.

Here, former President Rawlings “saluted” President Mahama for being firm in his decision not to sell Merchant Bank. He said the single act of the president deserves commendation and showed some firmness on the part of leadership.

The former President said: “John Mahama, not too long ago blocked the attempt to sell the Merchant Bank…by some of the left over characters of the Late President.”

He was emphatic “I want them (NDC) to win, but if you were to go into opposition, will you get the kind of protection you are getting now? I am not saying that I want [the NDC] to go into opposition”.

Mr. Rawlings said at the well-attended ceremony, that parties must not feel that they had to stay in government in order to protect themselves from victimization, saying: “Why should we derive our safety from just being in government? We are supposed to derive our safety from the judiciary.”

On President Mills, Mr. Rawlings, said he was made to look bad in the eyes of the citizens for constantly calling for a re-investigation of some murders that took place under the Kufuor regime, but which were covered up with poor or no investigations. However, the late President thought otherwise led to his government losing criminal cases at the courts due to unsupported evidence.

In his opinion, the recent acquittal of Corporal Eric Modzaka, in the Issah Mobilla murder case, is a testimony of how things were covered up in the Kufuor regime.

He said Mills’ failure to probe the killings and corruption cases on the basis that some officials of the past regime were his schoolmates and faculty members, enabled ex-President Kufuor to call him (Rawlings) a liar, and Mills a corrupt man, adding Mills’ public declaration that he will not deal with enemies of Rawlings sunk his heart, as he did not set out to create those enemies for himself.

On the NDC, He said “I am not saying that I want [the NDC] to go into opposition. I want them to win, but if you were to go into opposition, will you get the kind of protection you are getting now?”

He said parties must not feel that they had to stay in government in order to protect themselves from victimization, saying: “Why should we derive our safety from just being in government? We are supposed to derive our safety from the judiciary.”

Mr. Rawlings also took a swipe at media practitioners, positing that journalists “do not only corrupt human reasoning but we violate our own sanctity.” He said the diabolic nature of journalism where people assassinated the characters of what he described as patriots destroyed the “spiritual rhythm of the nation”

He was of the view that the National Media Commission (NMC) should be empowered to act like the Press Complaints Commission in the US where sanctions are meted out to media persons when they break the code of ethics.

On the case of the judgement debt saga, Mr. Rawlings said “we all need to do some deep thinking on this albatross,” adding “why should we allow the state to face pressures from individuals and organizations on the payment of judgement debt.”

He called for the criminalization of the inappropriate abrogation of contracts that led to unwarranted judgement debts as the remedy to the canker.

Mr. Rawlings said the fight against corruption was fruitless if all did not stand against corruption and that “zero tolerance for corruption must begin at home.”

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