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Opinions of Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Columnist: Hardi, Ibrahim

Press statement from Friends of the Rawlingses

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We The Friends of the Rawlingses find it repugnant, irritating and deeply insulting, that the leader of the Great consolidated popular party Dr. Henry Lartey would find it necessary to attack the dignity of His excellence Jerry John Rawlings in the manner in which he is doing now over a 2million dollar gift he said he had received from late Nigeria leader Saani Abacha. We take offense to the reckless, cold-hearted and egocentric effusions being exhibited by the leader of the Great Consolidated Popular Party Dr. Henry Lartey and would like to send a strong warning to him and his paid masters to desist from it or face our wrath.

We expect Dr. Henry Lartey to have known better that former president Rawlings views on corruption are globally known and his credibility is priceless and cannot be bought. We quote part of the interview His excellency Jerry John Rawlings granted to the Nigeria news paper The Guardian last July on his anti-corruption and alleged $5million 'gift' from Abacha. "The point I want to make here is, around that period we were preparing for constitutional rule. We needed funds for some activities and we got contributions from few places. The interesting thing is that I never went to or asked Abacha for any contribution. And this is something that impressed me about the man. I didn't ask him for a penny but he obviously understood certain situations, our situation, and graciously sent me a small suitcase of money. I think there were two cars or three that came to the Air Force station to look for me. I was going for a fly that afternoon so I was at the Air Force Station when a gentleman came over there and when he said he had a message from Abacha, I cancelled my flight and they set out to wait for me. I drove after them to the caste. As we got out of the car and we were about to move up, this elderly gentleman, Gwarzo he is called, had one of his assistants try to bring out a suitcase from the boot of a car. I had an idea of what it could be. So I said: 'Leave it, shut your boot and let's go upstairs first and talk'. He said he had brought something from Abacha. I said two things: 'I hear you people don't provide assistance without the world hearing it with a twist'. He just kept quiet looking at me. I said two: 'Don't think that when you bring this, whatever it is, that would shut me up from criticizing if I think you are wrong, or if I disagree.' He then opened his mouth and said 'Sir, we need you more than you need us'.I am quoting him. He didn't speak much. He was a very noble, quiet looking and elderly man. He was respectable looking. In fact, what he said simply disarmed me. So I said it was okay. He could send for the parcel. His assistant then went and brought in the parcel: 2million dollars: new notes packed in plastic bags, fairly heavy. We left it in the sitting room. We finished with some niceties and he left. I informed some of my close comrades of the parcel from Abacha. I gave away about 350,000 dollars to two people for urgent disbursements. One of our senior colleagues who was in charge of an exercise drew down certain amounts. We went on like this until the suitcase was exhausted. Later when Abacha died and your country instituted an investigation into his assets, I read in one of your newspapers that Mr. Gwarzo, this fine gentleman, allegedly said that he brought me 5million dollars. I am glad I still have that suitcase. It shocked me a bit that such a fine respectable man could make such a claim. The amount he mentioned shocked me. That he could tell such a lie. My colleagues knew about it. I didn't know why I should be keeping these things secret. Moreover, I didn't have any personal account to be putting these things into anyway. Besides we needed to use them for some national needs. But lo and behold! Many years down the line when I fell out with some of my colleagues and they decided to get poisonous, two of them wrote a book on district assembly elections and the decentralization programme, and inserted in somewhere, when it was absolutely not necessary, something about Gwarzo's supposed $5million just to poison my name. I just feel sad that Gwarzo should do this. I am prepared to be subjected to polygraph test. May be that's what he needs also. When General Abubakar took over, I told him to watch out. That, that report in the papers about $5million was $2million and not $5million. He didn't make any comment. He didn't say anything. Obasanjo took over I thought I should straighten it out with him. The comment he made was: 'Yes, that is how they behave. When they are given something to take somewhere, they will take the majority, the bigger share.' That was the comment Obasanjo made. I wasn't used to those things. Otherwise, I could have called Abacha. I don't even think I even called him over that. Maybe I should have called him to say thank you for the $2million and then he would have called his people to order. You see what I mean? I wasn't used to money being thrown up and down. Money was not my thing. Yes, we were poor enough as a country, but we were working day and night to make sure we put the country on a solid foundation for economic explosion. We had our pride and our dignity was not out for sale".

So for a character like Dr. Henry Lartey Casting insinuations and innuendoes at His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings in such a manner, smacks of indiscipline at the highest level. We are made to believe Dr. Lartey has petitioned the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) and Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to probe the $2 million gift, which Mr. Rawlings has not denied receiving. Dr. Lartey indicated on an Accra-based radio, Onua FM: "The perpetrator of corruption is walking about free. We will fight them and fight until they come out with the truth, and the truth will be judged by the courts." We are aware of the machinations going on to ridicule and discredit the former President. We are ready to do battle with anybody at anytime because using characters like Dr. Henry Lartey would not solve their selfish agenda.

When the matter of the alleged bribe money from Nigeria first broke in the 1990s the National Democratic Congress,founded by Jerry Rawlings, put up a strong defence for him (J.J. Rawlings) when the matter went on the floor of Parliament for investigations to be conducted into the matter by the then Speaker of Parliament, Justice D.F. Annan which makes it surprising today that when nonentity like Dr. Henry Lartey are raising same issue, non in the NDC frontline is ready to defend the founder Jerry Rawlings. For someone like Dr. Henry Lartey who has consistently shown gross indiscipline towards His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings to lament over corruption against him in the country is just revolting. We wonder what moral authority he has to lead such a crusade when he himself is indiscipline to the core. We want to make it crystal clear to Dr. Henry Lartey and his likes that His Excellency former President Rawlings was able to hold the PNDC/NDC together for 19 years because he was mentally competent, morally upright, a strict disciplinarian and was able to stamp his personality on governance as well as reined his undisciplined appointees as and when necessary.

We urge former President Jerry John Rawlings to display uncommon resilience in the face of the unwarranted provocation that has been occasioned by this unsavoury politician who is behaving like a kindergarten kid fighting over dollies. We are not just going to sit down and fold our arms and groaned, moaned and lament like Jeremiah of the old Testaments while His excellency Jerry John Rawlings is consistently being humiliated by nonentities like Dr. Henry Lartey who cannot even win a parliamentary seat not talk of being a president. We want to caution Dr. Henry and his paid masters to perish the thought of usurping the legacy of excellency Jerry Rawlings because we are prepared to lay our lives down to resist any attempt by Dr. Henry Lartey and his cohorts to usurp and destroy the legacy of excellency Jerry John Rawlings. We will stand up and speak our mind when the occasion presents itself. We will perish together; if we fail in our effort to grate the scabbed-wound and apply the right medication.

Signed Ibrahim Hardi(convener and spokesperson). Contact 0208235615,email;
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