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Opinions of Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Rawlings descends into the gutter again and fades

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Monday, May 25, 2015
Folks, the inability of former President Rawlings to put his past behind him and move on into the future to be respected as a statesman of high repute is assuming ugly dimensions. He is known for daring the devil and thriving thereby; but as is known too, if you keep saliva for far too long in your mouth, it turns into water. And that water isn't pleasant; it is dirt to be spat out in disgust.
Rawlings is known for making outrageous utterances and going away with them, unscathed, even if his opponents tongue-lash him in an attempt to paint him as uncouth and a nuisance. He has survived worse circumstances than such a verbal abuse. Indeed, he has been protected by the "system" to live his life the way he does. And his wife and children also benefit from that protection.
But truth be told, Rawlings' anachronistic prescriptions for solving Ghana's contemporary problems have remained worrisome. His recourse to harsh words against those who succeeded him in handling the NDC's affairs is one particular point of reference. We know how he uplifted the late President Mills from obscurity to become his successor only to turn round to "crucify" him with scathing verbal attacks, name-calling for mischief, and many others.
The sudden death of Mills seemed to have given a new fillip to Rawlings' lambasting of him as if he was the cause of anything bad for Rawlings and his political career (or that of his wife, Nana Konadu). We have heard damaging utterances from Rawlings and brushed them aside for what they are: an expression of frustration by a man who can't come to terms with the reality eroding his kind of personality-cult and abrasive politics. Rawlings is still unable to adjust to his post-office situation and sees everything happening that doesn't suit his desires, needs, and aspirations as a threat, which is why he reacts acridly.
For the records, let us acknowledge the fact that Mills passed on and was honoured as the "Asomdwehene" of Ghanaian politics. At the time, his own brother (Dr. Cadman Mills) assuaged all concerns and fears when he announced that his brother died from a natural cause. His family didn't revolt or ask for any autopsy, even though dangerous speculation by political opponents attributed his death to mischief or underhand manipulations by those seeking to replace him.
Yet, Rawlings won't let him be. He has continued to disparage him and thereby created a nasty impression about himself and trouble for the government. The Mills family is now using Rawlings' utterances as a political bait and threatening reprisal actions against the government at Election 2016. No wonder, the fire that Rawlings has stoked is now flaring to burn him. And that fire has the potential to damage the government's interests too, especially given the circumstances surrounding it in the light of accusations by members of Mills' family that the Mahama-led administration hasn't fulfilled any of the promises that it had made at the time of Mills' demise. In Ghana, anything can assume a political dimension.
Threats from the Mills' family to disgrace Rawlings if he shows up to participate in activities commemorating the third anniversary of Mills' passing away say it all. Then, the open one by Allotey-Jacobs (Central Regional Chairman of the NDC) to embarrass him buttresses the point that Rawlings has lost favour all the more.
No one needs to struggle for any pointer to all these issues, especially given the fact that Rawlings' denigration of Mills is unarguable. He is worse in denigrating Mills than Mills' political opponents are known for doing. Why it should be Rawlings doing so is a major issue to probe into by political scientists.
After all, Mills was not a career politician. he was an academic lecturing in law for decades until Rawlings roped him in and placed him at the Central Revenue Authority that Mills rebuilt into the Internal Revenue Service. It was from there that Rawlings got him into the mainst4ream of hardcore politics as his Vice President and positioned him to contest the 2000 elections on his own merit after the infamous "Swedru Declaration" that would even tear the NDC apart (Remember Goozie Tanoh and his National Reform Party or all other cadres of the Rawlings revolution who turned coat?).
Despite the intrigues, Mills did his best to serve the Rawlings cause and earned the unenviable tag as a "poodle" (by the estimation of Kofi Coomson and his _Ghanaian Chronicle_ establishment). He did all he could to sustain the Rawlings phenomenon but refused to be cajoled by Rawlings when he came into his own, which turned out to be his undoing.
By persistently raking up the past about Mills and making utterances to shoot himself back into relevance in contemporary politics, Rawlings has unfortunately bitten off more than he can chew. He has now offered his opponents the hook, line and sinker that they will use to snap him. Why is Rawlings so much of a skunk cabbage at this time that he should have been doing something better to retain whatever respect he deserves?
I have said it several times over and over again that his failure to find something better to do with all the time and resources he has at disposal will lead him to salute his nemesis. He could be using the time and resources to write his memoir or to initiate a project to perpetuate his image and give a good reason for his political legacy. But he isn't.
The US' Barack Obama has just made a huge stride, choosing a spot in Chicago to establish his Presidential Library. All former US Presidents have something monumental to their image. Ghana's John Agyekum Kufuor has a Foundation to tell the world what he is worth. Rawlings has nothing except the cache of provocative utterances and dare-devil happenings that characterize his personal and political life. Is that how he wants to be remembered? I don't think it should be so.
We will wait to see whether he will attend the ceremonies against the warnings being given or whether he will find something to deflect attention from himself. All the same, he has continued to come across as a bad nut, which isn't good for the cause that he has fought all these decades. Does he still have any adviser at all?
Putting everything together, then, we can say that Rawlings is still adamantly destroying the foundation of his own legacy and creating credibility problems for the NDC and its government. I don't know whether such a treacherous move is to serve the cause of his wife's jaded National Democratic Party (which he claims not to belong to, anyway) or to simply mess up the NDC cause. What for?
I shall return…
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