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Opinions of Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Columnist: Asubonteng, Bernard

“Pro Bono defense” of Nana Agyeman-Rawlings’ criticisms

The cliché that simply says “Never say never” is quite interestingly applicable to my position in this current discussion. For never in the million years did I ever envisage myself agreeing with Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings on any issue pertaining to Ghana’s social, economic, or political trajectory.

This unyielding posture/opposition to anything “Rawlings”—reasonable or not—has its genesis from the manner in which Nana Konadu and her husband (J.J. Rawlings) shot themselves into political limelight via military coup. In short, I have mortal hatred for coup d’états; hence, over the years, everything the Rawlingses have to say is always taken with the grain of salt on my part.

However, circumstances or time changes and evolves, too; so here I’m in the same trenches with a political nemesis—one of the Rawlingses. It’s also said that politics creates strange or unlikely bedfellows. The general point is, yes, many of us may have diametrically opposing political viewpoints with Nana Agyeman-Rawlings and her husband. Still, that does not mean we should blindly dismiss or ignore the legitimately serious concerns she has been raising about the direction of the country now, regardless of our past or ongoing differences with her ideological persuasions.

That is why at this juncture, some of us strongly agree that Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings is right on the issue regarding many of her criticisms of the Mahama-led NDC government. Rather than demonizing her because of her opinions of the feckless policies of President Mahama, how about the deniers take a sober and fair look at the merits of Mrs. Rawlings’ criticisms or arguments?

Engaging in abusive ad hominem argument toward the messenger is preposterous. Many Ghanaians, including even some reasonable NDC operatives, privately recognize that Ghana is socioeconomically anemic and worse off under excessively tax and spend Mahama government.

Nana Agyeman-Rawlings as concerned Ghanaian is just pointing out the sorry state and the prevailing realities as she sees them. In that regard, what has she done wrong to incur the NDC’s displeasure…Just for sticking out for the truth?

It is sadly ironic, needless to say-disingenuous-that many of the seemingly diehard cheerleaders of Mrs. Rawlings are now the “crucifying crowd” trying to discredit her indictments of the ruling government, casting uninformed aspersions and telling the poor Ghanaians to ignore the former first lady because of her genuine dissenting views of Mahama’s corrupt regime. The argument from within some panicking NDC operatives that Nana Konadu has no credibility to criticize her former party is replete with cynical fallacies that can’t pass the basic litmus test of critical thinking.

Arguably, no one knows the NDC’s operational pathways as well as its overall objectives more than Nana Konadu Agyeman and her husband; the ex-President Rawlings. The couple founded the NDC almost out of nowhere and in the process, disentangled the dominance of the CPP and the UP in Ghana body politic.

Simply put, Mrs. Rawlings is not only well-informed about Ghanaian politics for the past three decades, but also she knows the inside and out of the party she helped her husband found. Besides, President Mahama used to be a mentee of Nana Konadu’s husband for a long time, probably without which Ghana would not have had Mahama-led NDC administration. Also, it may not come as a surprise that the Rawlingses may still have some few residual “sympathizers” out there in the ruling party who may update them periodically about the unfolding developments inside the party.

As such, whenever Nana Agyeman-Rawlings offers criticisms of the track record of NDC government, most likely she knows exactly what she is articulating about. As a proverb goes, it is foolish to argue with a frog that pops out of the muddy pond to say that it sees a dead crocodile under the water.

Honestly, this is not meant to evoke any sarcasm here. For one thing, Nana Agyeman-Rawlings had closely watched her Husband led the NDC government through good and bad times over the previous years, making her one of the knowledgeable people in the country to understand the rudiments of incompetence governance. She probably regrets some of the bad policy choices her husband made as a president. Hence, her past experience and in-depth understanding of government are finding expression in her constant critiques of the NDC government vis-à-vis the economic ditch the nation is heading into under President Mahama.

In fact, there is nothing that Mrs. Rawlings has said so far about Mahama-led NDC government that is make-believe; almost everything is well known to the majority of Ghanaians. The former first lady is just providing reinforcement of what is already happening over the past years under the present government.

Here is Mrs. Agyeman-Rawlings quote: “Dumsor is a serious issue; businesses cannot continue when there is no electricity, and some businesses are closing down while some are moving to other countries.” She also reemphasizes that President Mahama administration’s excessive taxation “is creating serious problems for businesses as well as water and rent thereby making we the public [Ghanaians] suffer for their incompetence which is not acceptable.” Is Nana Agyeman-Rawlings making all these up? The answer is a big NO! Her recent criticisms of the government are factually accurate.

No capable government serious about embarking on vibrant industrialization programs with an eye on the provision of gainful employment for its fast-growing youthful population will be as clueless as to how to effectively address Ghana’s perennial power problem. As Mrs. Rawlings rightly suggested, how can a government that brags it is committed to opening up industries across the country does not have the technical know-how to solve the nation’s electricity conundrum?

Many of us can’t agree more with Nana Agyeman-Rawlings’s argument against Mahama government. Let the good God or Allah have mercy on Ghana!

The writer is based in the United States and can be reached: b.asubonteng@gmail.com