They differ in many ways. One is a revolutionary, the other is not. He is a lawyer, a politician and an intellectual. The other is a soldier, a politician, a maverick and down to earth who broods no nonsense.
One is married with four daughters and the other is married with a son and three daughters. While one of them is bilingual and speaks fluent French and English, the other speaks only the Queenís Language with no knowledge in French. The other chops the air with his bare knuckles while delivering a speech and the other one delivers his speech in an urbane and cosmopolitan voice. One is diminutive and the other is huge. The huge man is a half cast but the diminutive man is black. Donít be confused. I am just trying to compare Rawlings to Nana Addo.
Those who did not understand why Rawlings, the former President of Ghana chose to meet Nana Akufo-Addo, the flagbearer of the NPP should read this piece. Indeed, those who think the two should continue to be at each otherís throat should not hesitate to read this piece. History is made from bold ventures and Nana made history when he made the overtures to ex-president Rawlings. Rawlings also made history when he willingly accepted to receive Nana in his house. Whether we like it or not in politics there are no permanent enemies and neither do we have permanent friends. In fact, in politics, one plus one is not two. It is when one falls that he changes his style of walking. The enemies of the state are those who were angry simply because Nana Akufo-Addo met the former President who is more experienced as far as the presidency is concerned. Having ruled the nation for nearly two decades, only a fool will say Rawlings is not a force to reckon with when it comes to Ghanaian politics.
In the mid seventies, Nana was the Secretary of the Movement for Freedom and Justice, a group of Ghanaians who put their noses on the grindstone and fought against the late General Ignatius Kutu Acheampongís UNIGOV. The group did not fight against Acheampong as a person but they fought against his dictatorship and they won at the end of the day. They did not fight the system with arms but they used demonstrations as stools to change the system. When Nana Akufo, the late General Afrifa, ĎAfroí Gbedemah etc were at the frontline during the fight against dictatorship, Rawlings was a junior military officer at the Air Force Station, minding his own business. When we went to the polls to vote in a referendum to chose whether we wanted a Union Government or not, those who voted ďNOĒ to UNIGOV were so overwhelming that Kutu Acheampong conceded defeat after trying desperately to use Ďstate forceí to bulldoze his way through.
Nana, the democrat also fought against the excesses of the June Four Revolution and moved in sympathy with poor Ghanaians who were brutalized by soldiers at the risk of his life. In court, he defended victims of the AFRC brutalities free of charge. He has never been found wanting when it came to fighting for the liberty of the common man in Ghana, be it through demonstrations or legal suits. This is a man who could have chosen to stay put in his law firm and earn his living without anyone disturbing his ears but chose to go out there on the streets to fight for the common man whose voice was subdued. Indeed, this is a man who loves democracy so much so that he risked his precious life fighting for democracy for decades and continues to fight for the cause. He was optimistic that liberty would thrive wherever it was planted and he acted to defend liberty wherever it was threatened.
In 1979, when Flt. Lt. Rawlings came storming into the political arena with his Probity and Accountability slogans, he had the support of the working class and students. The generals who were ruling the nation had gone wayward and corrupt. We all saw them living good like Epicureans while majority of the people suffer but we were so much subdued into quietude that no one raised a voice for fear of being whisked away to return no more. And so when this junior officer took arms and overthrew the SMC II and claimed that he was doing House Cleaning in the military he had the support of Ghanaians. In fact, it was when the soldiers turned their guns and anger at civilians that we kicked against them. If he had concentrated his house cleaning on the corrupt generals, no one would have raised a voice against AFRC. Even though Rawlings was in control, as a single person, he could not have been everywhere at the same time to control the indiscipline soldiers. Fortunately, Rawlings saw reason and handed over power to Dr. Hilla Limann who won the 1979 general elections.
Much as Rawlings has his sordid past as a revolutionary, he also has his glorious moments. It was he who gave way for Ghanaians to vote in a referendum to choose whether we liked democracy or military rule and majority of Ghanaians chose democratic dispensation. As the de facto ruler of the country, he could have rigged the referendum in his favour if indeed he wanted to continue with military rule. Prior to the referendum, he had introduced the District Assembly concept which brought governance to the door steps of Ghanaians. Unlike the current corrupt NDC regime, Rawlings vigorously fought against corruption even though he was not able to wipe out the menace. Rawlings himself has never been cited in any corrupt practice. During his tenure of office as the Chief Executive of mother Ghana, his appointees were so afraid of being caught in the web of corruption that even the houses they built were hidden from JJ with some using their children to front for them. There was this story of a former district secretary who did hide behind his friend to build a house, fearing that if JJ got to know that he was building a house he would be dismissed. When he was removed as a DS and he went back to his town to occupy the house, the friend told him that the house was not his.
Unknown to the DS, the friend had used his own name to acquire the building plot and all the receipts covering the building materials he bought were bearing the name of the friend. The DS went to court but the court ruled against him. He later poisoned himself out of desperation. It was Rawlings who brought political stability to Ghana because for 19 years the country did not witness any successful military coup díťtat. When the nation was brought on her knees because of the 1983 famine, JJ stood up to be counted. He encouraged our farmers in the villages to double their effort. In a matter of three years, food became abundant in Ghana and hunger flew away to return no more in Godís own country.
This is the man that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo visited. The two did not meet to plot a coup. They discussed the need for a peaceful, free, fair and transparent election. If anyone thinks what they did was Ďharamí, such persons can go and burn the Atlantic Ocean. This encounter of the two gentlemen is just a tip of the iceberg. Nana will continue with the visit for the sake of peaceful co-existence. You see, each revolution of your carís engine moves the vehicle forward only a short distance. Yet, with enough successful turns of the engine and tyres, you can traverse the entire universe. Anyone who thinks the meeting of the two giants is insignificant must be dreaming.
Did I hear Anita De Sooso, the National Womenís Organizer of the NDC well? That it pained her when she heard that Rawlings met the flagbearer of the NPP? These are some of the people who have tasted power and having seen how sweet it is, will do everything to keep their heads above water. Who is Anita De Sosoo to question Rawlings or to tell him what is good for him to do and what is bad for him not to do? No wonder the sages say when an oak tree falls down, ants climb it. Where was this woman when Rawlings risked his life to launch the revolution which gave birth to the NDC? Today the food is ready and Anita is riding in a luxurious Land Cruiser and so she had the audacity to question the behaviour of Rawlings. Time has changed indeed. I will be back, God willing.
Source: Eric Bawah
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