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Opinions of Sunday, 24 June 2012

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Rawlings is still a Criminal until he apologises to........

When I sit in the comfort of my lounge, read and ponder over the life story of Rawlings from pauper to riches, many conclusions keep racing through my mind at crescendo. I am not going to narrate the aims and objectives of his military juntas - Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) of 4th June 1979, Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) of 31st December 1982 as they are known to the public and have been in the public domain for decades.

When the Western world exerted pressure on him to quit as the leader of Ghana, he turned over his coat. He single-handedly sourced funds, mostly and surely by dipping his long autocratic arm into the Consolidated Fund to found and fund what is now the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party. He was encouraged by some criminals in the country to form that party with the intention to continue to perpetrate crime of corruption, lawlessness and intimidation in the country as it has been evident in their administrations until now.

I have today chosen to discuss only one of the many evils committed by former President Rawlings that brought Ghana falling from grace to grass. Even with this, I will limit it to one individual. Rawlings came to power in 1979 with that bizarre intent to make the poor equal to the rich. Instead of ensuring the poor gets rich, he rather made the rich as poor as the poor. What has he gained by this senseless move, nothing I will say? However, he was able to enrich himself, his wife, his mum, some of his Ministers and government appointees with E.T Mensah, P.V. Obeng, the Ahwoi brothers and the Tsikatas figuring principally among the beneficiaries. Rawlings initially was honest but he allowed others to corrupt him when he became obsessed with power and wanted to stay in power on to death.

I am going to discuss Rawlings in relation to the present octogenarian Mr Benjamin Amponsah (B.A) Mensah of the then International Tobacco Ghana (ITG) Limited. Mr B. A. Mensah established this cigarette company during the regime of the late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong of the Supreme Military Council 1 (SMC 1) government in the mid 1970s. As an infant industry, General I.K. Acheampong gave him a tax concession for three to five years to enable the newly established company find her feet in the competitive market.

In less than three years after the effective operation of the company, Rawlings and his idea-defeatist cum hungry opportunists seized power in military coup d’état in Ghana. They did not only go after their military superiors they accused of perpetrating and entrenching corruption in Ghana but also went after all rich persons in Ghana.

Briefly, the PNDC government confiscated Mr B. A. Mensah’s company, accusing him of evading tax. He had not evaded tax BUT had legally been availing himself of the tax break as granted him by the then SMC government. In the end, he offered to refund the amount of money the Rawlings’ government accused him of defaulting on tax payment which otherwise was the tax concession granted him by General I.K. Acheampong’s government as was granted to all newly formed companies under his regime in Ghana. General Acheampong though a soldier, had best plans to bring about the industrialization and economic emancipation of Ghana hence among other things, the tax breaks granted to our infant industries for a few years.

P.V. Obeng, a very corrupt person in the PNDC government desired to become a shareholder in the ITG when Mr B.A. Mensah as a sole proprietor of the company had not advertised for shareholders into his company. He refused P.V. Obeng’s overtures. Mr Obeng became furious, and then instigated Rawlings to seize the company.

Mr B. A Mensah offered to pay up any amount of money in tax he was wrongly accused to have evaded according as explained above. He decided to pay it with any accrued interest over the two and a half years he enjoyed the tax break which, unfortunately was taken for tax evasion. The Income and Tax Revenue office refused his offer. He proposed to pay two or three times the alleged tax evasion sum to the government but they still refused him citing the usual nonsense I do not want to hear in my life, “Order from above” says we should not accept any money from you. In the end, they seized his company with the blessing of Rawlings and gave it to a bunch of greedy PNDC human vultures to run until they sold it to a foreign company.

Mr B. A. Mensah, a staunch member of the Busia – Danquah tradition was also let down big time by the Kuffour’s NPP government. I have known B.A Mensah since my infancy and witnessed how much he spent, and supported the Busia’s Progress Party. We all supported his first nephew, Lawyer Abeyie, to become the Progress Party’s MP for the then Sekyere East Constituency. He sold his property to support and sponsor the Kuffour’s NPP when they were in opposition and had never won elections in Ghana. He did this as a staunch member of the UP tradition and also probably in the belief that his party would help him get his company back. The company had by all known facts been taken from him because Rawlings had distaste for the rich, hate the Ashantis with passion and wanted the emergence of his tribesmen in the socio-economic front of Ghana. All these are facts but they are irrelevant to my current discourse.

After winning power, Mr Kuffour refused to ensure the company went back to B.A. Mensah. There was a huge sum of money the government needed to pay to the company’s current foreign owners before the company could be given back to her previous owner, Mr B.A. Mensah. Although a government of Ghana - PNDC - deprived a genuine entrepreneur of his property as explained above, run the company, sold it and gave the money to Ghana or misappropriated the money. Why should the NPP government fail to foot whatever bill there was to ensure Mr B. A. Mensah got his company back knowing the State wronged him through Rawlings and his PNDC government in the name of Ghana?

Anyway, Rawlings is suffering the repercussions of the evilness he visited on Ghanaians by what his own NDC party members are doing to him. He must go and apologise to Mr B. A. Mensah, a frail old man on a dying bed before he passes for forgiveness of the harm his government inflicted on him.

The evil that men do lives after them into their grave. Until Rawlings personally apologises to Mr. B.A. Mensah and the others he wronged, Asiedu Nketiah and others in his own NDC party will continue to torment him.

Where in the current NDC government are the cardinal pivots of Accountability, Probity and Transparency (APT) on which his revolutions evolved?

I do not hate Rawlings for all the evils he did but his continual hypocrisy. He still believes he can work with President Mills if he imprisoned the perceived corrupt members of the NPP government. Now the foul smell of corruption within the NDC is choking me so I will escape outside to take in fresh air.

Rawlings, please do as I have advised for you to get a real peace of mind. Mr Herbert Mensah can take you to his father to render your sincerest apology.

Rockson Adofo