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Opinions of Thursday, 16 January 2014

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

President Rawlings’ Booms

Orangeburg, SC
15TH January, 2014
Former President Rawlings has boomed again. Addressing the closing ceremony of the International Youth Fellowship at the Adidome Senior High School, the former President, unprompted, brought up and discussed corruption and the executions of 1979.
Some have suggested that the former President should be ignored. I disagree. Whenever a President or former President speaks, he deserves the nation’s attention. This is more so if he happens to be the longest-serving President in our history. The expectation is that the President should never waste the nation’s time. Sometimes, with Mr. Rawlings, it is not clear that he respects the nation’s time.
On corruption, President Rawlings accused all other Ghanaian leaders of not doing enough to fight corruption. According to peacefmonline.com “He also turned his guns on the first President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and two other heads of state, Dr. Busia and General Kutu Acheampong, all of whom he said did little to curb corruption. According to him, their actions and inactions in curbing corruption was what precipitated the agitations and coup d’état that overthrew their governments.” He reserved his harshest words for the two men who served under him and followed him in the Presidency—Kufuor and Mills. According to Rawlings’ “Kufuor was sending a signal that nobody was going to steal unless he, his family or friends or unless he gives you permission. So he created the impression as if there was law and order in this country—(he) terrorized this country into submission.” Tough words but he was not done. On Mills, he said, “When we won in 2008, the country was so poised to see that the injustices, the corruption and whatnots was dealt with, in order to right the tree of justice. Mills refused to do it. And that was the beginning of the true destruction of the moral fiber of this country. In spite of his holiness, his refusal to investigate and to deal with the crimes of the Kufuor regime is what led finally to the institutionalization of corruption in this country.” Since he was condemning corruption, one would have expected harsh words for the Mahama administration too but there were none. He said incredibly, “When people stand up, they want to create the impression to you the young ones as if the corruption started with the young man, John Mahama. No, it started with Kufuor. And that is why I say that Kufuor was an autocratic thief.”
So, according to Rawlings, corruption existed under Nkrumah, continued under the NLC, Busia and the Progress Party, the Acheampong regimes, disappeared briefly under the AFRC, reappeared under Limann, disappeared again under his 18-year reign of PNDC/NDC, returned under Kufuor, was continued byMills and still exists with President Mahama being blameless!! This is despite the fact that many religious leaders, the Chief Justice and even some NDC patriots, like Amidu and Bagbin, have condemned the new ascendancy of corruption in Ghana. As Bishop Dag Heward-Mills put it, “A lot of things are done in Ghana not because it is good for Ghana but because of somebody’s love for money.” If that is not a definition of corruption, I do not know “who born dog” !! Sadly, this retelling of history by Rawlings is false. One would expect that charity on corruption, as in all other things, would begin at home and that those who seek equity would come with clean hands. Under Mr. Rawlings, there were allegations of corruption in the cement industry, relating to SCANCEM, with revelations in Norwegian Courts DIRECTLY implicating him. Similarly damning allegations were made in the Mabey and Johnson case in Britain. Neither case has been properly investigated. Besides that, the privatization of state assets, like Nsawam Cannery, most of them sold to NDC functionaries, including Mrs. Rawlings’ 31st December Movement at donkomi prices, continues to be shrouded in mystery. Thus the claim that there was no corruption under Mr. Rawlings is at best, inaccurate.
On the execution of the Generals, the former President was needlessly insensitive. He stated that, “We had no choice. We thought let two go. Acheampong and a certain Utuka, very corrupt Generals. They were sacrificed. It was not enough. Ladies and gentlemen, 10 days later, we had to sacrifice another six and some of the Commanders were innocent good people but it had to be done because the rage in the country was too high, too much.” Now, if some of those executed were “innocent good people”, why does he keep rubbing pepper into the wounds of their families by defending their extra-judicial killings? Why has he never apologized for those killings? If today, another group of revolutionaries showed up with the same standards and attitudes as the AFRC, would Mr. Rawlings be clean enough to survive?
What can we do to resolve this?
First, it is time to call Mr. Rawlings’ bluff. I demand full, fair and impartial investigations of all the allegations of corruption by—and against—President Rawlings. If CHRAJ, which reached for the Anane case on its own, will not do this, they must be petitioned by the NPP, joined by the NDC, to set the records straight for the sake of all our ex-presidents, truth and history.
Second, as a Physician, I urge that those with the necessary access and relationship to the former President get him help with his sleeplessness. His claim that it is due to Mr. Kufuor may not be the case. It is possible that the sleeplessness is a symptom of some illness for which the former President must be treated.
Third, assuming the former President is well, he should comport himself with the dignity expected of his high office. If he is concerned about corruption, he should file a formal petition with CHRAJ to have himself as well as Mr. Kufuor investigated. While at it, he will do his anti-corruption credentials a lot of good by clearing his name in Norwegian and British courts.
Finally, any such investigation must include the Mahama administration. It is obvious that Mr. Rawlings’ view that the Mahama regime has not indulged in any corruption is not shared by Ghanaians. That is why words like Akonfem, GYEEDA and MERCHANT BANK have become synonymous with corruption. It is ironic that while alive, Mills was regarded by many in the NDC, including Mr. Rawlings, as personally incorruptible. Now that he is dead, the mantle of incorruptibility is being shifted, with difficulty, to President Mahama. That dog will not hunt this time. Boys Abre!! Girls Abre!! Ghana Abre!!
Let us move forward together.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy