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General News of Saturday, 9 July 2011

Source: The Herald

Rawlings, Mills & Konadu – The Cause of NDC’s Woes

Today, Ghanaians will get a respite from the self-sinking voyage embarked upon by President John Mills, ex-President Jerry John Rawlings and his wife, ex-First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman, the ruling National Democratic Congress, (NDC) about a year ago.

Deeply rooted in the contest are the high egos of two men and the ambition of a woman nicknamed; “She Who Must Be Obeyed” who says she is out to make history by becoming the first female President of Ghana.

Whilst Rawlings and his wife want to be at the center of everything, Mills has never failed telling close associates that he can’t be dictated to by a “Form Five Leaver” and his wife, who were both his juniors by far, at Achimota School in Accra.

This is because despite Rawlings elevating him from obscurity to fame, he (Mills) had his own credentials of becoming a lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, Legon, for close to twenty five years, and rose from lecturer to senior lecturer to associate professor, and served on numerous boards and committees.

Additionally, he has traveled worldwide as a visiting lecturer and professor at educational institutions such as the LSE, and presented research papers at symposiums and conferences, and in 1971, he was selected for the Fulbright Scholar Program at Stanford Law School in the United States of America.

At 27, Prof. Mills was awarded his PhD after successfully defending his doctoral thesis in the area of taxation and economic development. On obtaining his doctoral degree, he became a Lecturer at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana.

He became a visiting professor of Temple Law School (Philadelphia, USA), with two stints from 1978 to 1979 and 1986 to 1987, and was a visiting professor at Leiden University (Holland) from 1985 to 1986.

During this period, he authored several publications relating to taxation during the 1970s & 1980s.

Outside of his academic pursuits, Professor Mills was the Acting Commissioner of Ghana’s Internal Revenue Service from 1986 to 1993, and the substantive Commissioner from 1993 to 1996.

By 1992, he had become an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Ghana. Mills was also a Fulbright scholar at Stanford Law School.

Mills is reported to have been saying among friends that Rawlings, only a retired military captain, has never known about his (Mills) credentials, and must therefore shut up while he rules Ghana with his own brand of leadership.

Again, among friends, the president is also said to have said many times that he is not ready to carry his (Rawlings’) enemies as his (Mills)

But some political analysts have said that statement was unfortunate, pointing out that although, Rawlings’ was over-bearing; some of the enemies’ Mills’ is talking about were because of him (Mills).

They point out that it will be worthwhile for the president to appreciate that there is quite a vast difference between academic achievements and political power play.

They argue that he (Mills) was aware of Rawlings’ academic shortfall before he accepted to be his vice-president, and he must, therefore, be circumspect in his remark about him and learn to tolerate the man who was his boss.

In June last year, the herald looked at the entire political situation in the NDC and tried to forecast the future of events in the party.

We mentioned how Rawlings and his wife have lost once very good and trusted friends and how to deal with the situation, which current events in party have proved.

Below is our analysis and forecast at that time (June, 2010) ‘RAWLINGS’ CURSE AND THE FRIENDS HE LOST’,.

Observers of Ghana’s political scene can be sure of witnessing a massive showdown within the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the run up to the 2012 elections following what is perceived as attempts by the former first family to put forward Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, instead of the widely acclaimed Rawlings’ favourite, Dr. Ekow Spio-Gabrah, as the NDC’s candidate for 2012 elections.

President John Atta Mills had already declared his intention to contest for a second term in 2012, and he is expected, as a conventional rule, to have no challenger.

But if the speculations are to bear any iota of truth, then Ghanaians should brace themselves to witness the most dramatic political manoeuvre in the country’s political history, with Mills’ executive power clashing with Rawlings’ charisma.

Readers will recall that the founder of the NDC, Jerry Rawlings, nominated and virtually imposed Prof. Atta Mills on the party in 2000.

As has become the trend of kicking a party out of power after two terms, the people rejected Mills and the NDC, and opted for J.A Kufuor and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at a time Mr. Kufuor’s face had become a household appearance, having failed to absent himself from funeral grounds and the smallest festivals.

After serving his first term, Kufuor’s 2004 message for a second term was clear- he asked for more time, claiming the first term was used to lay a solid foundation for a take-off.

He did not have to battle the flagbearership slot with any member of his party, and was just unanimously acclaimed at the party’s congress held at Sekondi, in the Western Region.

This same circumstance is expected to characterize the political message of the Mills’ campaign in 2012. But we could be going in for a shocker.

If rumours of Mrs. Rawlings’ ambition to wrestle the slot from Prof. Mills are anything to go by, then the real shocker will be the disintegration of the NDC and its concomitant recipe for a return to opposition which was once described as “Hell” by Dr. Ekow Spio-Gabrah, one of the NDC vice-chairmen.

There is no doubt that President Mills has a large following, in the rank and file of the opposition. Indeed, one of his aides, Nii Lante Vaderpuye, recently said on Metro TV that every now and then key members of the opposition sneak into The Castle to extol the virtues of the president.

It is also undeniable that President Mills has endeared himself to lots of people in the NDC, and, therefore, wishing him away could be a monumental disaster for the ruling party.

But before we delve into what that undesirable situation holds for the party, let us take a quick glance at the history of the man, Jerry Rawlings.

Revolutionary Friends Who Turned Democratic Foes

Political pundits have long wondered what sort of person Jerry Rawlings is. A cursory glance at the history of his associations reveal that he eventually falls out with his favourites, easily tagging them enemies for disagreeing with him.

The list is tall, but those who readily come to mind include Boakye Djan, former president Kufuor, the late K.N. Arkaah, Kwesi Botchway, Obed Asamoah, Ato Ahwoi, Kojo Tsikata, Tsatsu Tsikata, the late Courage Quashigah, Victor Smith, the late Mawuse Dakeh, Kofi Totobi Quakyi, P.V. Obeng, Goozie Tannor, Assasie Gyimah, Prof. Kofi Awoonor and many more.

These people were one time his favourites who would defend him to death. But for whatever reason, no one can put a finger on how he fell out with them one-by-one. Perhaps, it could be that he felt betrayed after reposing trust in them, or perhaps Jerry Rawlings, is simply not an embodiment of what he preaches on a political platform.

The only person he has not fallen out with is his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings. It is an open secret within the NDC that anybody who dares coming between “Naaana,” “Yomoe,” or “Madam,” as Mrs. Rawlings has variously been referred to, would have his or her face bloodied. It is said within the corridors of the NDC that “where Nana Konadu points, Rawlings goes”.

Within NDC, Kojo Tsikata is reported to have slapped the all-powerful Mrs. Rawlings at a meeting at which she made a very derogatory comment against Captain Tsikata’s persona, and that within minutes, Mr. Rawlings who was the President then, ordered the arrest and detention of his security capo.

It took senior members of the government to talk him out of his decision but within days, Captain Tsikata resigned. The late Col. Jeff Asmah took over, and was later succeeded by Kofi Totobi Quakyi, after his death. Captain Tsikata’s relationship with Chairman Rawlings has since gone from bad to worse.

Indeed, some four years ago, when Mr. Rawlings was verbally assaulting “Gestapo” Obed Asamoah, a lifelong pal, ex-Achimota schoolmate and also landlord of Captain Tsikata, his attempts to draw Captain Tsikata into the fray over cash between Obed Asamoah received a sharp response from the usually quiet but well-connected captain.

He instructed some worried NDC MPs who had met in his Abelemkpe residence, Accra, to warn Mr. Rawlings to stop or else he (Rawlings) will look for a hole to hide but won’t get any, meaning Mr. Rawlings has a lot of skeletons in his closet. Till date, it is unclear whether that message got to him, but he has not been heard saying anything against Captain Tsikata.

History tells us that true and dedicated revolutionaries hardly keep a family. To them, the country and the individual citizens are their family. At best they keep their wives in the backburner, and it is when they allow them to be in the forefront that ideological friends become foes overnight.

Mandela divorced Winnie Mandela shortly after his return from prison. Till date, the wife of Fidel Castro is relatively unknown, revolutionary icon Ernesto “Che” Guevara’s family is largely unrecognized, Yasser Arafat kept his wife indoors. Silently, colleagues of Mr. Rawlings say Nana Konadu Agyamang Rawlings is the one who has put to question his revolutionary credentials.

Some even went biblical with the character of Rawlings. Samson fell to Delilah; David to Bathsheba; Solomon the acclaimed man of wisdom maintained lots of women including Queen Sheba. Joseph had to resisted Potiphar’s wife while in Egypt, while the Lord Christ whom Mr. Rawlings sometimes compares himself to, almost fell for one of Lazarus’ sisters, Mary.

*The Man John Evans Atta Mills* Judging from his ravings and rantings against President Mills right from day one of his (Mills’) assumption of power, it can safely be assumed that the man has also fallen out with his own chosen successor.

Many in the NDC questioned the basis of Rawlings’ criticism of Mills, when he was the same person who handpicked him – the famous Swedru Declaration – for that position, and even stood on the campaign platform to canvass votes for him.

The choice of Prof. Mills led to Reform Movement deserting the NDC to form the Reform Party, led by Mr. Goozie Tannor. When Mr. Rawlings’ tongue-lashing of Mills began, observers took it for a father trying to guide his children on the right path, with most welcoming it in good faith because to them, it was better having the opposition NPP criticism the regime.

Others had wished that the former president rather make his frustrations known to the sitting president behind closed doors and, therefore, considered his outbursts as embarrassment to the government he vigorously campaigned for. It was even estimated that he pulled more crowd than the man whose face was on the ballot paper.

With a knack for moving the youth into action, one wonders why Rawlings has not yet chosen to spearhead the laudable project of the Youth in Agriculture Policy of the Mills’ government.

Bigwigs within the NDC say “the problem is not Mills but Ato Ahwoi” who they described as the moneybag of the NDC now. “Don’t you know he is the real president and his house at Legon Wet Lands, is the Presidency?” Everywhere you go to have something done, you’re asked “Have you seen Ato about this issue? See Ato.”

Many are also asking why is President Mills refusing to tolerate Rawlings’ persona, and that if man could bulldoze his way amid stiff opposition and put him ahead of everybody, and assist him to become president, it means he can be very destructive as well, and like fire, should be managed properly to remain a good servant as opposed to a bad master.

*Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah* In the run up to the NDC primaries which saw Prof Mills elected, his closest challenger, Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah, was reported to have sent text message to the former president and the delegates alleging that Prof Mills was physically unhealthy to become president.

When the Managing Editor of the Insight, Mr. Kwesi Pratt, revealed that Rawlings surreptitiously asked him to lead the agitation for Mills’ replacement as flagbearer of the NDC in 2008, speculations were rife in the assumption that Spio Garbrah has become the favourite for the Rawlingses.

And this was given additional impetus when after writing the infamous article in the Daily Graphic titled, “Nkrumah’s legacy, a challenge for the NDC”, in which he referred to President Mills’ cabinet as “Team B”, he was seen hobnobbing with the former first family.

In that article, Dr. Spio Garbrah hinted of his intentions to contest for one of the six slots of Vice-Chairmanship of the party. It, therefore, came as no surprise when he appeared on the same platform with Jerry Rawlings, and subsequently, went on to grab the slot on the shoulders of Mr. Rawlings.

But then Nana Konadu was also lurking in the corner, and grabbed one of the slots too. Her decision to take up an executive position in the party was received with mixed reactions, with one school of thought saying that she was lowering her status. But it was hard to anticipate her real intentions.

However, this was revealed at the climax of activities marking the 31st anniversary celebration of the June 4 uprising, when a group of people carried the banner proclaiming loudly: “Movement for Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings 2012 President, Ashanti Region”.

Reports had it that Nana Konadu waved to the people, virtually urging them on. And when the aide to the former president and also a deputy NDC General Secretary, Kofi Adams, was later interviewed, he proclaimed loud and clear that “Nana Konadu stands tall among prospective candidates for the party’s flagbearer, that is if she decides to contest.

According to Kofi Adams, Nana Konadu “has mobilization skills, and that nothing stops her from contesting if she so desires”.

It is increasingly clear that Mr. Rawlings certainly has something up his sleeves, but that can only spell doom for the party he founded, according to some observers.

However, anyone can see through his haste to have some former government officials jailed, and that is why he feels Mills is not moving fast enough.

The rule of law dictates that one gets a fair trial, goes through the due process, put before a competent court of jurisdiction and is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

This is the same constitution President Rawlings swore to uphold while he was in office. What has changed? It was under his able leadership that in 1992, he introduced the Fourth Republican Constitution which clearly spelt out how matters of law should be handled.

So what is Mr. Rawlings asking for?

From the foregoing, it comes out strongly that Dr. Spio Garbrah has no chance with the Rawlingses. The ground has surely shifted under him and his support base, previously thought to be fronted by the former first family, has lost its foundation.

His latest darling boy, Herbert Mensah, a one-time critic of him, is believed to be behind calls for Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings to contest the 2012 elections.

Even though analysts presume that Konadu may only be testing the waters to assess her chances of grabbing the flagbearership slot in 2012, the period between now and the NDC congress could prove decisive for the party.

But with Rawlings’ highly unpredictable nature, no one can perfectly be sure of what comes up during this period. Whatever is upcoming, only time will tell. But one thing is clear, and that is anytime he talks, the NPP puts down a free campaign notes.