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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

There Goes JJ Again

Last week, he was so concerned about the Security situation in the country that he convened an extra-ordinary meeting of his ex-security capos to discuss how they can contribute to improving the security situation.

This week, he is back to his normal form; sowing confusion, misleading the people and undermining our democracy. Speaking at a rally held at Kakasunanka No 1 School park in the Kpone-Katamanso constituency on Sunday, the former President levelled some wild accusations at the ruling NPP government.

First, he accused the NPP, according to the Chronicle newspaper of “ stockpiling arms and ammunitions, especially automatic weapons in certain localities in the country, to intimidate the electorate during the electioneering period”.

Second, he stated that “ NPP officials have stolen enough money, lied and committed too many crimes against Ghanaians. While some of you could not get enough to eat, the NPP functionaries have embezzled and stolen money belonging to Ghanaians, not only from the Prudential Bank, but also they have stolen and kept most of your money abroad, that is why they are afraid of leaving the scene”.

The accusation that the NPP will stockpile arms to intimidate the electorate is ridiculous. Why would we need to intimidate the very people who defied intimidation to elect us in the 2000 elections? The NPP expects to win a free and fair election based on its superior record in government as well as its compelling vision for the future of Ghana. On violence, the accuser must look in the mirror. Mr Rawlings’ entire public career has been defined by two things; accountability and violence. He forfeited the accountability mantle when he inserted provisions into the 1992 constitution to protect he and his cronies from their crimes against this nation.

It was Mr Rawlings who preached the “ democratisation of violence”. He was the one whose government lined up eight top military officers and executed them. He was the one who unleashed PNDC cadres into our midst, to cane women in public and force others to submit to all manner of degrading things. He was the one who formed the 64th battalion. He has been, is and will always be the one most associated with violence in our political culture.

Today, if we have a problem with too many weapons in the wrong hands, we are seeing the effects of Mr Rawlings’ two decade crusade to “ democratise violence”. Also, the former President’s claim flies in the face of logic and commonsense. Throughout this year, it is Mr Rawlings’ party, the NDC that has preached violence and vigilantism while invoking the images of Kenya and Zimbabwe. The NDC, like its founder, appears to be coveting and encouraging violence and instability this election season.

On the accusations of corruption, embezzlement etc, the former President has no evidence and more importantly, no credibility. If he has evidence, he should present it to the appropriate authorities. On credibility, if the former President is concerned about corruption, why did he protest the convictions of Hon Abodakpi and Mr Tsikata? Is he only interested in accountability for certain people? Furthermore, if the former President is interested in corruption, why has he done nothing about the SCANCEM allegations? In a Norwegian court, the company admitted that they had a policy of bribing African leaders and that their beneficiaries had included the former President, his wife and Mr P.V Obeng, one of his most trusted friends.

The charges made in the Norwegian court goes to Mr Rawlings’ reputation and to the issue of whether Ghanaians have paid excessive prices in the cement industry because of corruption. Despite the obvious importance of these charges, Mr Rawlings, except for a terse denial from his lawyer, has never addressed this issue. Let him address the charges against him before he levels charges against others.

As a former President, Mr Rawlings must weigh his words carefully. He does the esteemed office he held a disservice when he speaks as recklessly as he did on Sunday.

Finally, as we approach December, too many are speaking too recklessly. Amongst these is the former President. We must temper our words and work, together, for peace in our country. Making unfounded allegations do not help this process.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy ( Chair, Communication Committee) 2008 Campaign