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Opinions of Saturday, 10 February 2007

Columnist: Oto, Kwadjo

Rawlings v Kufuor's Accountability


On 31st December 1981, Flight Lieutenant Rawlings a young man then at the age of 34 born in Accra to a Ghanaian mother and a Scottish farther took gun and forcibly imposed himself on the country after staging an abortive coup in May 1979. According to this lean young officer, his desire was to clear up “corruption in high places” and to investigate the “nefarious activities” of businessmen who were “growing fat” at the expense of the starving masses. Throughout the long reign of former President Rawlings, two words that I can say constantly run through his speeches were ACCOUNTABILITY and PROBITY.

The question now is what was Rawlings ACCOUNTABILITY and PROBITY? Did Mr. Rawlings make himself ACCOUNTABLE to the people after stealing power and imposing himself on us? Is Mr. Rawlings understanding of ACCOUNTABILITY and PROBITY different from the real meaning of it? Or his ACCOUNTABILITY only applies to other people than himself? For over 19 years rule of former President Rawlings as the longest serving No.1 steward of the land, I cannot remember a single day that Mr. Rawlings made himself available to the ordinary Ghanaian as his employers to give accounts of his Presidency. This is typical of the biblical Pharisees who preached but never practiced what they preached.

It takes a natural ordained leader, who has no skeletons in his cupboard to make himself available to the people that gave him that leadership mandate to give accounts of his stewardship. This is a virtue Mr. Rawlings never had but President Kufuor possessed. In 2001, President Kufuor instituted the People’s Assembly to make him and his government ACCOUNTABLE to the people by answering all manner of questions as part of the NPP’s policy to deepen democracy and to take governance closer to the people. This monumental achievement of President Kufuor and his NPP government is recognised even in the opposition cycles. This is what Hon. Alhaji Mumuni Mohammed, 2004 NDC Vice Presidential Candidate to Prof. Mills said on Joy FM’s News file on the 20th of January 2007 “I congratulate President Kufuor for instituting the People’s Assembly making the government ACCOUNTABLE and also taken governance to the ordinary Ghanaian.”

Former President Rawlings executed three former heads of state and five other senior figures by firing squad as his interpretation of making them ACCOUNTABLE for the alleged corrupt practises they perpetuated. Having done that one would have expected that this lean young man whose stature has now broadened would have strengthened the media and empowered the ordinary Ghanaian to probe and hold him and his government ACCOUNTABLE. But what did we see? Because this young officer who forcibly took power out of frustration had a different interpretation and understanding of the words PROBITY and ACCOUNTABILITY, he decided to cripple the media with the introduction of the Criminal Libel Law. As if that was not enough, the good people of Ghana were intimidated with serious atrocities and as the last stroke that broke the back of the camel, were forced against their wish to sleep from 6pm to 6am curfew for more than 2 good years. All these atrocities ushered in what became known as the Culture of Silence.

Mr. Rawlings is now feeling the heat as his wife Mrs. Rawlings is currently standing trial at the fast track high court and as a result he has being gallivanting all over the world preaching how his family and his government are being witch hunted. They now send Asem Fofro to the Sunyani People’s Assembly to virtually insult and provoke the President to drop the charges against his wife, Mrs. Rawlings.

Justice Georgina Koranteng Addo was a woman like his belovered wife when he murdered her, leaving her breast feeding child helpless. How did you feel, Mr. Rawlings, when you murdered her? Your wife is not murdered just the law taking its course and you are already feeling the pain. Justice Koranteng Addo was also somebody’s wife, sister and mother. In any case, what makes former President Rawlings thinks that the ACCOUNTABILITY and PROBITY he was preaching did not include him, his family and his government? As part of his accountability policy all those who were “fat”, were considered as corrupt and either executed or imprisoned through kangaroo courts. Now Mr. Rawlings has added more flesh to his skinny body and what is he saying about that? Has he now realised that growing fat does not necessary mean one is corrupt?

The real essence of PROBITY and ACCOUNTABILITY which former President Rawlings professed but never did is what President Kufuor has given to the masses; participatory and accessible government and power to the ordinary Ghanaian. President Kufuor is held ACCOUNTABLE by the good people of Ghana every year through the People’s Assembly. To give credence to the notion of ACOUNTABILITY and the deepening of good governance, President Kufuor and the NPP government on assuming office repealed the Criminal Libel Law making the media more vibrant to play the ACCOUNTABILITY role it was denied by the NDC government. Now Ministers of State are constantly probed and held accountable by a liberalised and vibrant media through Ministry of Information & National Orientation’s weekly meet the press.

Under the watch of Mr. Rawlings, women were stripped naked and lashed for what was popularly called “eye han eye kanea”. Buildings, companies and properties were confiscated, people’s parents, brothers and sisters went to jail for having 2 toilets in their houses and others killed for possessing 50 CEDIS. This according to Mr. Rawlings “was to instilled concepts of PROBITY and ACCOUNTAILITY in our national psyche and restores a sense of national pride in the people.”

When some Ghanaians and the media tried to make Mr. Rawlings also ACCOUNTABLE, Mr. Rawlings fumed and charged on them. Some had their press houses shit bombed, Mr. Kwaku Baako, Kwasi Pratt, Haruna Atta and others went to jail. Mr. Kwasi Pratt had his 2 teethes dislocated through severe beatings, some had their penis dissected and others also had their back flesh cut and roasted on candle lights for them to chew.

On the contrary, President Kufuor has given more freedom to the media and power to the ordinary Ghanaian to hold him and his government ACCOUNTABLE. As a sitting President he submitted himself to an Institution of the State-CHRAJ during the famous hotel Kufuor scandal. This is not common throughout the world. This is the kind of leadership, governance and ACCOUNTABILITY the people of Ghana are looking for; leadership by example as exemplified by His Excellency J. A. Kufuor

Stay tuned for more ACCOUNTABILITY revelations.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage. .