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Opinions of Monday, 17 April 2006

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Rawlings And Taylor Are No Different

A cursory look at Africa ossifies a picture of misrule, poverty, corruption, dictatorship, misaligned ideologies and lack of originality. Over and over again, the people of Africa are taken to the woodshed and given a drubbing. To the extent that we allow such to happen, we must bear blame. In cases where the forces of oppression outweigh our will to resist, we have no choice but to suck it up and tuck it in. As much as leadership is sorely lacking, followership has been languid at best. So the likes of Jerry Rawlings John and Charles Taylor are able to worm their way into power and terribly finger their own people to the point of political desperation and unbridled economic mayhem.

I observed with juvenile glee when Charles Taylor was arrested in Nigeria and handed over to the world court that is sitting in Sierra Leone. I shed no tear for Taylor but cry deeply for the people of Africa. To the extent that Charles Taylor is guilty, he must be vigorously prosecuted and punished. It will be my hope also that people like Pat Robertson who helped prop him up will be equally investigated and prosecuted if need be. We have to get to the root cause of Charles Taylor?s dictatorship and the resources that enabled him to maintain such. If Gaddafi aided him, he must be pursued too. Anyone that aids and comforts mayhem in Africa must not be spared. After all, these arms are not manufactured in Africa.

It is very obvious that our African leaders did not show any leadership on the Charles Taylor problem. Look, Charles Taylor will continue to be a free man had the Americans not insisted that he must be made to face trial. That no African leader had the balls to ask for his trial after he left Liberia, without American insistence, is a blistering shame. Even Sirleaf, did so with much prodding and support from the US. Let us keep in mind that it was these same African leaders who sat and watched as the Liberian maelstrom unfolded. Why should we wait for outsiders before we deal with our own problems? It is as if African leaders don?t have the balls to call on their peers to knock it off when they are in the wrong. Two glaring cases that come to mind are the president of Uganda and Obasanjo?s attempts to run again even though the constitution forbids him. Where is leadership when you need it? If our so-called leaders cannot call on their fellow leaders to act right, then we will continue to have problems erupting all over the place. The least that African leaders can do is to cast aside power drunk misfits like Museveni. Of course most African leaders are no different from these jokers.

Let us bring this lack of leadership closer to home. While one murderer and criminal, Charles Taylor, is hauled away like a bag of charcoal to face trial, we have Jerry Rawlings John, equally a murderer, globetrotting and having fun. He even cries about benefits that he deserves! Not long ago, a fellow forum member told me that Rawlings was a shade better than Charles Taylor in the murder class. So, I said how is Rawlings different and how low can we go? Was Charles Taylor not rumored to be fraternizing with Rawlings when he broke jail from the US? Did Rawlings not help a coup in what is now known as Burkina Faso? Did Rawlings not murder his own people? What happened to the Ghana Bar Association list of 200 people that were alleged missing under the ghoulish regime of Rawlings? Do we now not have evidence coming out of the reconciliation hearings that penises were spliced and innocent people killed in the office of Adjei Boadi? Is it not men like Rawlings that inspire idiots like Charles Taylor to brutalize their own people? If Charles Taylor is going to face trial without any direct evidence that he personally murdered anyone, why not Rawlings? What about the atrocities that went on under the watch of Rawlings? I hope Jerry is hot under the collar because he might be next to face the world court. We must get all the murderers to answer for their acts!!

You see, this is why I have my disagreement with the West and its double standards. They often pick and choose whom they want to go after even though they will gain much credibility in dealing with all the dictators and murderers in the corridor. Charles Taylor and Rawlings are cut from the same cloth. Whether Taylor and Rawlings killed different number of people is totally irrelevant. The bottom line is that they usurped power for personal gain and left in their wake a fine tapestry of corruption and murder that far supercedes what they claim to be correcting. Now, we see how financially sated they are. I was not surprised to hear that Taylor had sacks of money in tow as he made way for the Cameroonian border. What a disgrace!! Where did the money come from? We have not exactly laid hands on the loot of Rawlings yet but if his relatively lavish lifestyle is anything to go by, we know he probably made out on us.

As I write, the NPP government has finally started prosecuting the civil crimes of Rawlings and his thugs. This classic case of rags to riches is one that every Ghanaian and Africans in general must pay attention to. While the P(NDC) thugs squeal, grunt and carp on their way to civil court, we must all stand steadfast in the name of democracy and accountability. I am encouraged that the NPP is doing this because it paves way for the thugs in the NPP to be prosecuted as well. The NPP will hang by its own petard if these prosecutions are politically motivated. If the NPP refuses to prosecute its own thugs, post governments will surely prosecute them. Hopefully, this will represent a line in the sand for the people of Ghana. We have seen too much arrogance and economic rape of our people. If these NDC folks are innocent, they have nothing to worry about. We will all cheer and support them if duly constituted courts find them innocent.

Folks, we must not allow intimidation or political loyalty to blind us into circumventing a development that is indeed good for Ghana. We must endeavor to deal with all corrupt officials without fear or favor and regardless of party affiliation. Two wrongs do not make one right. It is for this reason that I look at the litany of charges by Mills with a jaundiced eye. First of all, why is Mills raising these charges just as his NDC friends get ready to head for court? Where has he been all this time? Is this designed to intimidate the government and people of Ghana? Yes, Mills has every reason to make a case for NPP corruption. I think we all know that there is corruption in Kufour?s government. This however, must not excuse the prosecution of equally corrupt NDC officials. This kind of one-sided presentation of NPP corruption does not absolve the NDC from corruption. Indeed, these prosecutions should have started as soon as the NPP came to power. Now that the NPP has soiled it own pants it makes it harder to prosecute these NDC criminals. The NPP must go after corrupt officers in its midst with the same fervor.

Let me personally make this appeal to Mr. Mills. Please stop denigrating yourself by trying to mop the floor for Jerry and his inner circle. Your veiled attempts to incite or allude to violence will not scare us. The days when you ruled supreme with shit bombings are long over. You have no business telling a sitting government to withdraw charges against your friends. The NDC is not above the law and as a law professor, you should know that. Please save the little of whatever respect you have left. Surely show support for your comrades but let it end there. At least these folks are not being tried in Kangaroo courts as your master did to numerous innocent Ghanaians and killed them. You NDC folks are in for a rude shock if you think you can incite violence or cause mayhem in Ghana. Was it not your master and leader that preached holy war? Why is it that you folks detest the same principle that you so violently preached and enforced? Let the courts work Mr. Mills! Knock it off! I do not support politically motivated prosecutions but God forbid that I sit and clap while the inmates run the asylum. Prosecute all the criminal in the name of Ghana. All of them!!

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