The fact that it is said, do not speak evil about the dead, does not deter me from telling the truth about the bad and the good things that the late former President Jerry John Rawlings did. People may disagree with me on some of the points, however, they are entitled to their opinions. “Opinions are like noses, everybody has one and nobody’s is perfect”
I had a strong aversion (dislike) to the late President J. J. Rawlings when he ordered for the execution of some then, and past, military Heads of State and leaders in government, when he was the Chairman of the ruling military junta, Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). Many innocent Ghanaians were maltreated, harmed, killed or just evaporated into the thin air to never be found again until today. Nobody can tell how those people disappeared from the face of the earth, thus, from the land of the living, except the perpetrators of those heinous crimes themselves.
However, much as some of such committed abominable crimes against Ghanaians were done during his Chairmanship of both the AFRC and the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), he must be held culpable. This is normal, as anyone in leadership position, either in government or in workplace, is often accused and held accountable for the repeated collective damnatory gross misconducts by their subordinates. In the advanced world, in their workplaces and government, some leaders do resign from their positions for the gross mistakes done by their subordinates. No wonder that the late President Rawlings is accused of, and blamed for, all the murders and the related crimes against innocent Ghanaians during his leadership of Ghana.
Again, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, said Sir John Dalberg-Acton. His infatuation with power to rule Ghana unto death, then naive and vulnerable as he was, he unconsciously allowed those surrounding him to take advantage of him to commit crimes with impunity.
I am not by this publication attempting to exonerate him from total blame but telling the two sides of Rawlings as he was.
Then retired military Captain Kwadwo Tsikata, his Special Security Adviser, had his hands soiled in many of the killings that took place under Rawlings Chairmanship and presidency. He was such a brutal and callous individual who never pardoned anyone that crossed his path. Why was the Military Police under the previous governments disbanded with some of its personnel mercilessly dealt with when Rawlings became the leader of Ghana? For a homework for Ghanaians, go and find out what they were doing to retired Captain Kwadwo Tsikata, a suspected potential coup maker, under the Presidency of His Excellency Hilla Limann of the People’s National Party (PNP). They mounted overt and covert surveillance on him, and the rest, thus, repercussions, is for your homework.
Joachim Amartey Quaye, allegedly masterminded the gruesome murder of the three Accra High Court Justices – Mr Justice Fred Poku Sarkodie, Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addo and Mr Justice Kwadwo Agyei Agyepong, and the retired Major Acquah, for being previously tried and found guilty by Mrs Cecilia Koranteng-Addo for a case involving the rioting workers of Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation (GIHOC) who attacked parliament in Ghana’s Third Republic. He was one of the rioting workers’ leaders of GIHOC.
Additionally, and in quote, “In 1980, Cecilia ruled in favour of a businessman named Mr Shackleford, who had been detained during the 1979 revolution led by Jerry Rawlings. Cecilia held that there was no justification for the detention and directed his release. Cecilia was the first judge to have questioned the transitional provisions of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) inserted in the 1979 constitution and she set free an AFRC convict”
When Joachim Amartey Quaye became a member of the PNDC in 1982, he sought a pound of not only the flesh of Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addo, but also, the other judges.
Going forward, my own father-in-law (by extension of being married to his senior brother’s daughter), Tycoon Industrialist Mr Benjamin Amponsah Mensah (B. A. Mensah), had his factory, International Tobacco Ghana Limited (ITG), confiscated from him by the PNDC government. Although Mr B. A. Mensah issued a cheque to pay whatever he owed including penalties, it was refused. He issued a second cheque doubling the amount he owed, it was refused. He issued a third cheque tripling what he was accused and assessed to owe, it was again refused with the explanation by the Ghana Revenue Authority that “Order from Above” has instructed them not to receive anything from B. A. Mensah in payment of his debt but to confiscate his factory.
The person who masterminded and orchestrated the confiscation of B. A. Mensah’s tobacco factory is allegedly the late Paul Victor Obeng (P. V. Obeng), a member of the PNDC government.
Why did Rawlings upon reaching the about-to-be inaugurated newly-built residence of Enoch Teye Mensah (E. T. Mensah) , a Minister for Education and a Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram constituency during the PNDC regime, immediately walked out of the house and the arranged ceremony? It is alleged he questioned him about where he had got that much money from to build that house. He knew he had stolen it from the Ghanaian taxpayers.
He was against corruption of all sorts. Nevertheless, the people he trusted and appointed into government and public service positions were not honest but corrupt. They played on his naivety and vulnerability to illegally enrich themselves at the expense of the public and his flagship policy of “Transparency, Accountability and Probity”, the cardinal pivots on which his revolutions and government revolved.
Rawlings actually needed genuine, incorruptible and farsighted people to work with to move Ghana forward. He needed people who were ready to serve Ghana and humanity in selfless manner, to work with. Unfortunately, he could not find many such persons. If it were not so, he would not acknowledge a letter I posted to him in 1993/1994. He did send me a classified reply with a reference number indicated, and on a presidential letterhead.
Whether he had time to address the issues raised or not, I found in Accra in February/March 2018, while on holiday that some electric meters are mounted outside homes to stop the rampant electricity theft. I had suggested to him that electric meters were mounted outside homes in well-built encasements, served by the provider’s (supplier’s) service cable and from where the landlord’s cable will depart. By this, no matter how dodgy one constructs their electrical installations in their houses, they can never bill their electrical consumptions into the public grid. They will pay exactly how much they consume without any ability of illegal connections to bypass payment of units of kilowatt-hours consumed.
There were no electrical installation inspectors/testers in Ghana to ensure that domestic electrical works do conform to safety regulations or standards. I did suggest in my letter that Ghana needs electrical inspectors/testers to check and certify domestic electrical work undertaken by others for safety and conformity to regulations, same as it is practiced in France. Now, in Ghana today, we have that. One can check with the Ghana Energy Commission if domestic electrical works are not checked for safety before connecting to the supplier’s service cable.
If Rawlings could reply to my said letter, in which I was a bit emotional and insulting, then it clearly showed how he wanted to move Ghana forward, but unfortunately, he could not get the right people but the corrupt ones.
From the little said, was it not those he appointed who committed most of the crimes Ghanaians went through under his watch on his blind side? Blind side is defined as,” the area behind and slightly to one side of you that you cannot see”
Finally, did he not remorsefully acknowledge that it was one of his then most respected Army Generals that forced him to sign for the execution by firing squad of the late Brigadier General Akwasi Amankwaah Afrifa?
To conclude, Rawlings was neither a saint nor the devil we knew. Those he surrounded himself with made him the devil we saw him to be.