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Opinions of Sunday, 18 July 2010

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

JJ and the fable of the fat fox

Jomo, such is the daily information overload in this country, that no sooner has someone made the news than he is very quickly forgotten and buried under an avalanche of fresh intrigue. It must be robbing the publicity-hungry chaps in town of some sleep!

The exception to the apparent rule is JJ who appears to have a monopoly over prime time news. It appears to have reached a point where all JJ needs to do to make the news, is simply to make a conscious effort NOT to make the news, if you see what I mean:

He yells and throws verbal grenades at his foes and makes the news. He is told to shut up for Heaven’s sake and he in spite of himself, tries giving silence the good old try but then, hostile media which survive in the market partly on Rawlings headlines, quickly provoke and tease him out of any spell of silence and it begins all over again.

I went trudging through the dense jungle of the web the other day in a frantic search for something, and chanced upon a large cyberspace crowd of animated arguers debating a simple question: Who is the leader of the NDC? Not a single individual in the crowd appeared to know the answer:

Having led the party as presidential candidate to electoral victory does President Mills automatically become the party leader? Is it the Chairman of the party? The Secretary-General, perhaps? Wait a second. We have left out one: Is it Rawlings the founder of the party?

The answer is in the party’s constitution of course but not everyone has read the party’s constitution and there sometimes appears to be more individuals than one at the headship of the NDC.

Since the swearing into office of President Mills a year and a half ago, his party has not been the most united house in the partisan political estate but things are now getting really bizarre and if you reckon the key name in the ever-running story is JJ, you are dead right.

The tale as told and repeated in the media all week, had it that whereas even wild foxes go to sleep at night in five-star holes padded with fresh grass, JJ and his missus have no where to lay their skulls.

The former president’s residence in the capital was gutted by fire three months ago and we all thought the government had found alternative living accommodation for the former first couple of our mighty republic.

Now Mrs. Rawlings goes and tells a radio programme host how she and her husband have been reduced to tramps, trudging around all over the place looking for a house to rent.

The picture created by Mrs. Rawlings’s claim of homelessness is this: President Mills who was brought into the limelight in Ghanaian politics and subsequently supported all the way to the president by Rawlings is treating the party founder had his family with callous disdain.

Is that really true? Mills’s administration insists it has made efforts to find a suitable house for the Rawlingses but the former first couple have not found the houses on offer to their taste.

How could a former head of state with a network of wealthy friends at home and abroad become homeless? A couple of weeks ago, some online journalists published on the internet a photograph of a fairly plush residence located at Adgirango in Accra which they authoritatively reported, belonged to the Rawlingses.

This week, two reporters from print went to take a picture of the same house for another story. They were not as lucky as the online journalists and were sighted by Rawlings’s private security guards who went bearing down menacingly on the snooping duo.

The reporters showed some of the cleanest pair of heels in recent tales of snoop dog journalism gone all awry, and one of them was captured and later released by the guards.

A Rawlings spokesman while admitting that the adgirango residence does indeed belong to the Rawlingses, nonetheless insists that the mansion is “not yet fit for habitation.” He added that all that has unfolded in the lives of the Rawlingses this week is part of a grand design by the man’s own party to project him in a bad light.

Hey, why would the sitting president and his aides do that to a former president and founder of their own party? Well, JJ has been an unrelenting critic of Mills’s style of administration, which Rawlings perceives as too slow in taking radical but necessary decisions, the spokesman explained.

This, he did not add though: There is never a shortage of those disposed to exacting vengeance for past wrongs and Rawlings having played a key role in the tragic and violent events of our immediate past political history, could be the target of such people.

The locations of the houses on offer to the Rawlingses are far from secure and are vulnerable to criminal or unlawful surveillance and physical intrusion!

What has Mills himself been saying about all this? The president has apparently been reading the manifesto of the three wise monkeys with diligent attention and taken its central theme to heart, hearing, seeing and speaking no evil at all.

Do not ever forget that former President Rawlings chose the gentle and mild-mannered university professor as his vice-president, some say, to give his administration an external touch of maturity, level headedness and principle and later supported Mills to become president.

The unwritten post-election script of 2008, which Mills apparently threw away, was that Mills would rule from the Castle but allow JJ and his boys to the far left of the NDC a bit of leeway at least, to hold sway in some matters.

The genteel professor whose demenour deceptively spoke a ‘yes sir’ to all and everything it is snow conjectured, simply grabbed the power given him with both hands and proceeded to do his own thing, to the utmost chagrin of JJ and his band to the left.

All this may have something to do with the past fortnight’s renewed heaving and shoving within the party. After much criticism of Mill’s style of political administration the next move it now appears, is to orchestrate an alternative presidential ticket in 2012.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is blaming Rawlings himself for having ‘imposed” President Mills on the NDC.

Sekou thinks Mills, while he is certainly a gentlemen and most principled, is better suited for the ivory tower than the presidency which requires a tough-talking, steel-hard man of action. Dr. Nkrumah’s boy is one of those who have begun pushing for an alternative NDC presidential ticket in 2012.

Former President Kufuor has declined to give Mills a performance rating, saying it is difficult to deliver on campaign promises in less than two years.

Am I qualified to give Mills a performance rating myself? Sure. I am a tax-paying citizen with justified expectations of the political leadership. When at an appropriate time I do make my opinion public, it will be an adequately informed one based on the screaming facts and true to conscience.