The end of the frosty relationship between former President Jerry John Rawlings and the incumbent President John Agyekum Kufuor is nowhere in sight as the former keeps on avoiding the latter. The latest to this phenomenon was the conspicuous absence of the ex-President Rawlings at the state funeral of the late Justice Daniel Francis Annan last Friday at the forecourt of Parliament House in Accra.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) of which Rawlings is the founder was however, fully represented.
Many sympathizers the Public Agenda spoke to were of the opinion that, this was an opportune time, the ex-President should have seized to demonstrate any statesmanship he had by leading the NDC to the funeral of the late Justice Annan who was a doyen of the party .
“It was a great opportunity sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. It would have been an appropriate time to signify, at least, the beginning of the much-sought reconciliation for our politically disunited nation. It would have sent an unequivocal message of softening of entrenched postures,” a sympathizer bemoaned.
Many interpretations have been put on Rawlings absence. Some say he has been embarrassed by the refutation from the late Justice's Annan's children to a claim he made that the NPP government abandoned their father to his fate when he was on his sick bed.
Rawlings' absence aside, the funeral brought together both the high and low in society including President Kufuor, Veep Aliu Mahama, Rt Hon. Speaker Sekyi Hughes, Chief Justice George Acquah, Members of the Council of State, Ministers of State, Parliamentarians, Prof. Attah-Mills, the clergy, political parties, family members, loved ones the media, and other sympathizers from all walks of life.
Glowing tributes, eulogies and elegies were paid to the cherished memory of the late Justice Annan.
A tribute by President Kufuor on behalf of the government, complimented the late Justice Annan thus: “To his credit, he truthfully conveyed to the PNDC that the preferred political system of the larger percentage of the Ghanaian was a multi-party constitutional democracy based on the rule of law….”
“In spite of being a founding member of the National Democratic Congress, as Speaker, Mr. Justice Annan was generally seen to be fair to all the political parties represented in Parliament. This was acknowledged across the political divide.
“From hindsight, Mr. Justice Annan's arrival on the political scene at the time he did was perhaps what the nation needed. His training in law, his mature age, and professional experience on the bench equipped him to be even-handed.”
The NDC, in a tribute, observed, “In spite of his great physical presence, which immediately and naturally exuded nobility, Justice Annan remained a very modest man. He was highly respected by his colleagues, friends and subordinates and barely harboured a grudge.
“In his youth he fought for the independece of Ghana. In his mid-term he fought for real freedom in this country. In his twilight years of his career he joined to blaze the trail for true democracy in Ghana. He served his country and left his country and has left footprints in the sands of time.
“Little wonder his motherland, Ghana, honoured him with its highest civilian award- Companion of the Order of the Star of Ghana in 1977, and is also honouring him with a State burial.”
The late Justice Annan was born in 1928 and had his secondary education at Accra Academy and continued at Achimota College, where he successfully completed his intermediate Bachelor of Arts Degree before proceeding to the United Kingdom to complete his university education and graduated in law. He was called to the English Bar in second half of the 1950s.
He returned to Ghana and joined the Attorney General's Office in 1958. In 1966, he was appointed to the High Court Bench where he distinguished himself so much that he gained promotion to the Court of Appeal in less than five years from where he retired in 1979.
In 1981 he became a member of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). Under his chairmanship, the National Commission for Democracy submitted a report of its findings to the PNDC in March 1991 entitled “Evolving a True Democracy- Summary of the NCD's Work towards the Establishment of a New Democratic Order.” As is well known, this report constituted the foundation on which the super-structure of the 1992 Constitution was erected. The late Mr. Justice Annan can therefore be aptly described as the “father of the 1992 Constitution”.
It was no wonder and indeed natural that upon the promulgation of the First Parliament of the Fourth Republic, the late Justice Annan was elected unanimously as Speaker of Parliament in 1993. He retained the position 1997 until January 6, 2001 when the life of the Second Parliament came to an end and the Third Parliament of the Fourth Republic was ushered in, with the NPP government winning majority seats in Parliament.
On Sunday, July 16, 2006 he departed this world to join his fathers after a protracted illness. May his soul rest in peace.