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Politics of Thursday, 27 August 2020


Former President Rawlings defends his vision and legacy

Former President Jerry John Rawlings Former President Jerry John Rawlings

Jerry John Rawlings, who was Ghana’s first President under the 4th Republic, says that he served Ghana with a team which comprised various experts with different political affiliations and with unique talent and intellect.

According to him, as a young Air Force officer in his twenties, he travelled across the country with his colleagues and the realities on the ground really shocked him.

Rawlings recalled an incident in the Yendi market where they had gone to purchase some local produce.

He narrated that he noticed old men selling beans, sorghum, etc., and placed close to their legs were containers with a brown-looking fluid. When he enquired, he was informed that the dirty-looking fluid was their drinking water.

Rawlings, in a statement trying to debunk some allegations levelled against by Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, in his book ‘Working with Rawlings’, indicated that he felt pained knowing that urban folk were so privileged that they were able to “flush their toilets with clean water from the taps while those in the rural areas drank Guinea-worm infested water. Accept it or not, this was our reality as a nation. How could these experiences not have sparked a vision or a philosophical outlook in this young pilot’s head?”

His statement, signed by his communication officer, added: “Even more disturbing was the fact that large patches of Ghana were without lights when he flew at night. His perspective began to take a more serious tone as he recognized the reality on the ground and the fact that without electricity and water, the populace would be living an unhappy and distressing substandard existence, while urban dwellers remained out of touch with the reality on the other side of the country.”

This, President Rawlings said formed his motive of providing potable water for the wider populace and the extension of the national electricity grid.

Rawlings further stated that the next step in his vision for development was to construct and equip regional hospitals across the entire country.

“Indeed, in the early days (the 1980s) there was a time when Dr Joe Abbey informed him that drugs for Government-run hospitals could not last for a week. A most shocking situation! At the time, historical records will clearly show that support from Eastern bloc countries who could be considered natural allies was not forthcoming owing to their own internal challenges. With the urgent need to complement much-needed social development projects, the PNDC Government had no option but to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, where we as a Government and a nation made history by defining our financial needs, terms and method of implementation to those institutions; leading to a complete overhaul in the way the IMF and World Bank approached project funding and implementation globally.”

He added: “The Rural Electrification Project that ensured that most parts of Ghana were provided with electricity, recognizing the benefits that provision will add to socio-economic development; Prior to the era of Rawlings, travelling from Southern Ghana to Northern Ghana took days. After major roads were constructed to link most parts of the Northern Regions to the South half of Ghana, we became one unified country not just in name but also [in] accessibility.”

Again, Rawlings stated that on “Championing of women’s development and affirmative action” he had results to show for it. “Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and the 31st December Women’s Movement were instrumental.

“With food security, a priority for Rawlings, agricultural policies were initiated that resulted in the recognition of Ghana’s food production growth of 148 per cent for the period 1995-1997 as “the third-highest achievement [on] record after Jordan (157%) and China (156%)” in the World Bank’s 1999-2000 Development Report.

Rawlings noted that the introduction of sustainable economic policies led to:

“ – Increased productivity in export produce like cocoa and gold;

– The establishment of the National Development Planning Commission;

– The revival of the Ghana Export Promotion Council, all institutions which have survived to date.

There were massive developments in the health sector including: –The establishment of the Cardiothoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital

– The establishment of the Korle Bu Radiotherapy Centre

– The wooing of eminent personalities such as Professor Frimpong Boateng to return to Ghana to serve their country.

– The Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre was also constructed under President Rawlings’ watch”.