Rawlings, 31st December and myself
“Good evening, fellow countrymen. The attempt to justify the action of 31st December, 1981, would not presuppose that we Ghanaians do not know and feel what had been going on since September 24, 1979. Briefly, it has been nothing short of a clear denial of our fundamental rights as a people to enjoy the wealth of our labor. This has been the most disgraceful government in the history of our country. It is the only one in recent times that criminals and such others like them have become respectable in our society. They have turned our hospitals into graveyards and our clinics into death transit camps where men, women and children die daily because of lack of drugs and basic equipment. To many of us, democracy does not just mean paper guarantees of abstract liberties. It involves, above all, food, clothing, and shelter in the absence of which life is not worth living.- Former president Jerry Rawlings
I dread the 31st day of December every year. For some members of my family it is a day they rather forget, so they focus on the fact that it’s the last day of the year and with that they make new year’s resolutions, get together with the rest of the family or attend church festivities just so we can live a semblance of a normal life. But I dread it; because once again I get to hear the “nagging” former president Jerry Rawlingst try to validate the relevance of an irrelevant event that happened on the 31st of December, 1981.
Few younger people ever recall the coup that deposed my uncle as president of the third republic; I was young by then but growing up and researching ,hearing the background to the story and the supposed cordial relationship that my uncle and the then former President Jerry Rawlings I can’t help but to somewhat pity this man. And I don’t pity the former president in a disrespectful way; no, on the contrary I pity him because I think I happen to be the only one who understands his cry for attention.
All his life the former president had nothing. He wasn’t from a rich family, he never knew his father or did not have a fatherly relationship with him. His education was cut short at the secondary school level and also the military he entered wasn’t rewarding financially. So in his mindset, if he was ever going to have anything , he needed to take it by force so he was ultimately responsible for two coups, a failed economy during his tenure, he was responsible (through his government) for several lives lost and the list goes on.
So back to the subject matter. What I rather want to focus is how much the former president who to some is envisaged as a “redeemer” in our nations national history. He has fallen to the level of almost a “nagging hypocritical house wife” who uses the June 4th and 31st December revolution commemoration to antagonize certain people and their families without remorse to what the events may mean to their various families. This is the platform the president uses to take cheap shots on the dead and living leaders.
Year by year, he has been a voice that has criticized various governments, notably are the government of former president Kuffour, government of former president Mahama and that of the late former president John Evans Atta Mills.
He has accused them of corruption, nepotism, economic mismanagement among several other things. On various platforms he has bashed the former presidents especially those from his party the NDC from parting from the ideals of the party and instead in his opinion created an open space for looting and sharing.
As a matter of fact the former president has made it seem to look like his government which spanned close to 2 decades of governance as an upright government and he has used several times the commemoration of June 4th and December 31st to reinforce that idea. Well today I challenge it. I have few questions to ask the former president , questions I feel need to be answered.
1.Who killed the high court judges? Strangely even though the murder of the high court judges in 1983 under the watch of former president Rawlings has not been solved. The former president have been heard several times condemning the NPP government under president Kuffour for the 2002 murder of the Ya Naa( overlord of the dagbon state)
2.Where did that Abacha money go? (the corruption and looting) So a few years ago it emerged that sometime back in the 90s the then head of state of Nigeria General Sani Abacha allegedly gave former president Rawlings a suitcase containing 5 million dollars, an allegation former president Rawlings denied instead he owning up saying he took only 3 million dollars. For what? We can only guess. Meanwhile at the height of the Rawlings dictatorship could be shot for merely owning 50,00 cedis today ghc 5 in terms of value.
3.Who is to be blamed for the massive violation of human right during the regime of the PNDC? It is sickening how today this “man” claims to have integrity when his regime constituted some of the most violent violation of human rights in the history of Ghana. Has he forgotten how market women were whipped, disgraced, sexually violated among many other forms of violations. In 1999 just before he handed over power to the NPP government through an election his party lost, there was the case of the mysterious death of women; A situation his government ignored till he left power.
4.Who is responsible for the heightened perception of corruption in our society? Former president Rawlings whole PNDC/NDC regime has been riddled with corruption allegations which includes his own wife. Who has a mysterious hand in selling to herself the Nsawam cannery and many other government institutions? Since former president Rawlings urge to get into power was to uproot corruption yet corruption has never been rifer in his PNDC/NDC administration than in any other regime. Yet the former president feels it is very convenient to go on a rant whenever his integrity is called into question.
5.Running the country into debt; whose fault was it? In 1979 the AFRC shot and killed 9 high ranking military personnel’s of the previous administration they overthrew (SMC2). Amongst those shot included 2 former head of states and their crime was mismanagement of the country’s economy. Fast forward into the future, at the turn of the 21st century, when the NDC lost the 2000 election to the NPP led by former J.A Kuffour the country was so much in debt that we had to declare ourselves HIPC mainly because of gross mismanagement of the NDC government headed by president Jerry John Rawlings.
And these are just a few drops in the ocean;
In my opinion the former president is a walking contradiction of everything he speaks for, he is an opportunist who jumps on every opportunity he gets to make himself relevant with his “boom” speeches. And in my moments I feel sorry for him; He once had the heart of the people but yet lost it to failed promises and empty ranting like a spoilt brat. The former president is a lucky man; and deep down he knows it. It’s only a coward who kicks a man who is down.
Yes former president, Hilla Limann is dead. We as members of his family is now trying to put his legacy back into place and on the 31st of December every year this president goes to celebrate a coup that shouldn’t have happened to remind Ghanaians what he achieved with PNDC an achievement we would have chalked regardless and even improved if he never seized power.
Former president Hilla limann had more “balls” than former president Jerry John Rawlings, and ever will have considering what former president Limann achieved in his short term in office. In my opinion, the former president Rawlings needs not to remind people every year what others will want to forget with his annual ranting on the 31st December celebrated each year.
Columnist: Junaid Limann