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Opinions of Monday, 21 June 2010

Columnist: Ayelazuno, Jasper Abembia

The Megalomaniac Rawlingses - Leave Atta Mills Alone

Politicians all over the world are by no means selfless, nationalistic and altruistic individuals wishing to serve their nations – using the vehicle of political office – as they normally claim in their rhetoric. Rather the contrary: they are megalomaniacs and self-seeking individuals trying to take hold of the apparatuses of state to realise their narrow and selfish goals. Their talk of just seeking to “serve” is a lie; and thankfully, the citizens know this very well.

Though a universal behaviour, African politicians are the worst offenders because of specific historical and social contextual factors. For example, the historical and social context of the USA is such that no person - however high his/her megalomania - can dream that he/she is indispensable to the state, and must continuously wield political clout when his/her party is in power. Not even great war-time leaders like Franklin D Roosevelt (USA) and Winston Churchill (Britain) would have such a dream if they resurrect from their deaths today. How less so the likes of Bill Clinton or Tony Blair?

In Africa the political attitude of politicians is different, which is that their megalomania is uncontrollable, just like when a male dog or pig is on heat and cannot control their sex drive. We must understand the attitude of the Rawlingses (and their cliques) toward Atta Mill’s government in this sense. Being the founder of the NDC, Rawlings thinks he must be the one calling the shots at the Castle whenever NDC wins power. Not only he as the founder, but his hangers-on and those of his wife. Ridiculous! They have this wrongheaded notion of founder of a political legacy or tradition, which is that being founder of a political tradition, it is your personal property. So, they see an NDC government as their dynasty. Wrong! Even Bill Gates does not have this notion of Microsoft, the company that he personally founded. Rawlingses!! Get this clear: NDC is not your personal property, let alone Ghana. Stop behaving as if you are a bunch of toddlers whose favourite toys have been taken from them: whining, crying, making noise and disturbing everybody’s peace.

The Rawlingses would be able to manage their megalomania if they reflect on the roles that various people played since June 4 through 31 December to the 2008 narrow election victory over the NPP. In particular, they should mull over the sacrifices that ordinary Ghanaians have made and continue to make throughout these years, despite the failure of his government and that of Kufuor to alleviate their miseries. Just ask yourselves: could we have been the great Rawlingses that we are in Ghanaian politics without these people, especially the ordinary people who went without food and potable drinking water without complaining? The answer must be an obvious and emphatic no: you would have been “Mr/Ms No-bodies". The fact is Rawlings could not have done anything alone on June 4, on 31 December, the 1992 and 1996 elections. The fact is also that he could not have governed this country without such intellectuals and think-tanks like Professor Mills, John Mahama, Dr Kwesi Bothway, Dr Obed Asamoah, P.V. Obeng, Dr Chambers, the Ahoiws, Mahama Iddrisu etc - to say nothing about the security gurus and operatives who worked hard to secure the state. The Rawlingses will do themselves a lot of psychological good if they stop seeing - erroneously at that - the people who worked with them (not for them) in various capacities as beneficiaries of their goodwill. The state of Ghana does not belong to you so you cannot use it to disburse your goodwill. These people were serving their country and not you as a person. You benefitted from them rather than the other way round, because without them you would have been "Mr No-Body". Period! The Rawlingses should be cautious not to exaggerate their role in the NDC’s victory in the 2008 elections. In the same way, they should not underrate the role of the integrity and persona of Prof Mills in his own victory. Above all, they should not elevate their importance in the 2008 election victory over the ordinary Ghanaians who queued and voted for the NDC. And they should take note that it was not NDC card-bearing supporters alone that voted for Atta Mills. There were many, many Ghanaians who simply voted against the NPP because of their insensitivity to the plight of Ghanaian by their open display of opulence, some of it believed to have been ill-gotten from political corruption. I have also heard the Rawlingses and their supporters argue that it is the party that makes government and not the other way round! Wrong! Parties do not make governments in the way that they are thinking. Parties are mere vehicles through which citizens choose their representatives, as such, a government does not answer to a political party. Government and party are totally different entities in their goals and functions. The government of Atta Mills belongs to all Ghanaians and not NDC supporters. So, for Rawlings and his supporters to be going round shouting from rooftops that Atta Mills has not given jobs to the youth and foot soldiers of the NDC is to demonstrate the quintessential distorted notion of politics in Africa: the state is a milk-cow to be possessed and milked by the president for her/himself and others closer to her/him. Wrong! If there is milk to go around, it must really go around to every citizen. To be grumbling about Atta Mills’ refusal or failure to fire NPP supporters from certain positions and replace them with NDC supporters is baloney – “spoils” politics as usual. This is the sort of politics that has been the bane of development in Africa and beyond; it might be the politics that led to the defeat of the NPP in 2008. Atta Mills is wiser and has a more sophisticated notion of politics to repeat these same mistakes – indeed to commit the same crimes that Rawlings and Kufuor committed. Rawlings seizes the least opportunity to lambast Kufuor. Actually, he and Kufuor have more in common that they do not realise: they both engaged in “spoils politics”. So they better be friends than go about criticising each other.

Please, leave Atta Mills alone. He is doing better than both Rawlings and Kufuor. He would not steal our money, and above all, he is not the typical megalomaniac and avaricious African politician I have conceptualised above. He is a good man, an intellectual and conscientious individual who really wants a better Ghana for every Ghanaian. His “better Ghana” goal would be difficult to accomplish because of resource constraints, not because of corruption and paucity of due diligence. With Atta Mills in charge of the resources of Ghana, I can sleep and snore – if even with an empty stomach – because I know he is not looting our resources, and I know he would do everything he can to fill my stomach. If he cannot, he empathises with me, at least. Knowing that some Ghanaians are sleeping with empty stomachs, Atta Mills is cautious not to display the comfort of presidential office recklessly as if everybody in Ghana is living in that comfort. He is very alert to the fact that Ghanaians have sacrificed to give him that comfort for the sake of the dignity of his office. Rawlings recklessly displayed the comfort and trappings of presidential office. Kufuor also did! Atta Mills would not do. The scheming to torpedo Atta Mills’ presidential candidacy in 2012 would fail because the Rawlingses no longer wield so much clout in the NDC as Atta Mills does. Rawlings would not like to hear this, but this is the reality of complex organisations. Once they are formed, they no longer belong to you. My advice to Rawlings: you are a lucky man. You have done your part. Leave Atta Mills to do his part. Stop thinking about the fact that it was you who put Atta Mills in the political limelight of Ghana. Atta Mills does not deny this, and he has served you so faithfully. He continues to respect you, even as he is now president. That is all that he can do. Don’t expect him to be beholden to you, and so to speak, consult you 24 hours. He is a learned professor and an independent minded man. More so, he is governing the country wisely. Leave Atta Mills alone!