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01.08.2003 Feature Article

"The Impudence Of a Cockroach"

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Jerry Rawlings has never made any secret of his disdain for law and order, democratic governance, or constitutional rule. In speech after speech, both during, and after his tenure as president of Ghana; he has railed against the ‘constraint' placed on the leader by constitutional rule.
He reluctantly acquiesced to constitutional rule because the tide in Ghana, and internationally, had turned against the dictatorship that Rawlings favoured so much.
There is another dimension to Rawlings' disdain for constitutional rule. He fancies himself the alpha male, providentially mandated to rule Ghana. What else can explain the guy's tantrums aimed at undermining the government and people of Ghana.
Unlike other former presidents who have behaved like elder statesmen, such Alpha Oumar Konare of Mali, recently elected the Chairperson of the Commission of the Africa Union; Jerry Rawlings continues to make derogatory statements against the government and people of Ghana, that can charitably be described as senseless. Seldom has an individual who left office with so much respect and admiration, squandered such high esteem so quickly, and with abandon.
The claim that Jerry Rawlings is infallible because he presided over a smooth transfer of power to another elected president; and should thus be held at the very top of the pantheon of our collective national history, can no longer be sustained. By his utterances, Jerry Rawlings has revealed himself to be a mortal danger to the Republic of Ghana, if not to himself.
Nor should calls by some individuals for a summit to be held to map out cordial relations between president Kufour and ex-president Rawlings be entertained. In fact, Rawlings' uncouth behaviour politically, and otherwise; disqualifies him from any avuncular demeanour from Kufour. Rather, Kufour's energy must be directed towards ensuring good governance and impartial application of the rule of law in order to ensure national stability. The NPP government is doing well on that front, by the way.
Which brings me to the matter of the episode in the ongoing saga of zany behaviour being displayed by our former president Jerry John Rawlings. No, we are not preoccupied with this individual. In fact, to most people the man has become a nonentity. However, since he continues to assault our senses, and disturbs our quietude with his uncouth attitude and bearing, a record of his activities must be kept for posterity. Oh ye gods, what manner of man you once imposed on us as the ruler of Ghana for nearly two decades!!
The point is that, the utterances and behaviour of Rawlings gets weird and weirder by the day. Ghanaians recall with sadness the gruesome (ritual) murders of more than two dozen women between 1998 and 2000. As president, Jerry Rawlings was unable to solve this criminal activity. Indeed, in October 1999, the then First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, led a demonstration of hundreds of women, clad in mourning cloth to pressure the government to intensify the investigations of the crimes.
And, in December 2000, Jerry Rawlings in an interview with a correspondent for the Internet news service allafrica.com, pronounced his agony at the murders, thus: "My heart has been full of grief and sympathy for the families of the Ghanaian sisters and daughters who have been murdered in very cold blood."
Therefore, it comes as a surprise that Jerry John Rawlings now claims he knew the perpetrators of the dastardly crime all along. But he kept the names sealed in a little wallet in his back pocket! There are fifteen people in all, he says; and they all serve in the present government! Not only that, Rawlings announced at an NDC rally at Takyiman, in the Brong-Ahafo Region recently, that he had known the names of the perpetrators at the time he was president, but had refused to divulge them because it would interfere with the 2000 elections!!
In response to Rawlings' outrageous claims, on July 15, 2003, 200 women also clad in mourning cloth took to the streets of Accra with placards some of which read, "Jerry, Please, Bring Out The Names of The Killers"; and, "Josiah Aryeh, Who Brought the Bodies of Women From Togo?" The latter is in reference to NDC scribe Dr. Josiah Aryeh, who spoke of rumours that the corpses may have been brought to Ghana from Togo to discredit the then NDC government!
Under pressure to reveal the names of the government officials whom he claims to have been involved in the murders, Jerry Rawlings threw in another zinger. The government of Ghana must do certain things before he names, the names!
The first is a request that the government must subject him to a polygraph test, commonly called a lie detector test. This test is usually done to confirm the veracity of a witness's account. But Jerry wants to be tested before he provides information! This lie detector test, and another test which Jerry calls a "chemical test" (hence, Rawlings' new accolade Chemical not comical! Jerry), must be followed by a visit to a traditional deity, the much feared Antoa Nyamaa who presides at Antoa in the Asante Region, perhaps to swear fealty; and then swear an oath that he spoke the truth or the deity could have his head!
All these shenanigan would make for interesting comedy, if it did not involve the death of real people, and the security of the nation. It ought not take a prophet to confirm that Jerry Rawlings is playing a mischievous game. His claims are just another diversionary tactic in his arsenal of zany behaviour. Methinks Jerry is feeling the squeeze at the revelations of corruption and abuse of power being made against some members of his government at the Court, and in hearings before the National Reconciliation Commission. He feels the heat from the fire inching closer to him by the minute.
Apart from fooling his wife who had led a demonstration of women 1999, as well as officials of his government who frantically searched tediously for the killers, Jerry Rawlings has revealed himself to be a most incompetent mischief by his claims that he knows the names of 15 people currently serving in the NPP government who masterminded the murders.
Jerry Rawlings is not fooling anyone, other than himself, and the lunatic fringe which continues to hang on to his every spoken word. With his political party, the NDC moribund, what better issue than a revelation of the names to regenerate the party? Why is the NDC leadership not calling on their man to reveal the names, without any prompting, in order to endear the party to the general public?
If claims by Rawlings that 67 per cent of votes came from women, and that the NPP linked the murder of women with politics to misinform Ghanaians in order to win their votes; why wouldn't Rawlings in his usual bravado simply name the culprits and endear himself and the NDC to the Ghanaian electorate? Why would Rawlings ‘demand' a re-opening of investigations into the murders before he divulges the names; when in fact, his revelation would leave the government with no option but to re-open the case?
The rambunctious claims made by Jerry John Rawlings in this matter, reminds me of a phrase that one of my elementary school teachers employed to describe those who carried similar tall tales: "the impudence of a cockroach". This episode is simply just another chapter in the impudent utterances of one Jerry John Rawlings
The zaniness aside, Rawlings' claims raise some pertinent legal issues, which I thought the Court or the attorney for the fellow found guilty and imprisoned for the murders ought to have taken up.
Frankly, the attorney should petition the Court to subpoena Jerry Rawlings, in order to force him to reveal the names of the 15 people whom he claims either knew of, or committed the nefarious offences. The lawyer for the imprisoned person held responsible for the murders should then ask for his client's release from prison; while awaiting a new trial based on the information which Rawlings claims he is privy to. Should Jerry Rawlings refuse to provide the information (which he claims to possess), he should be jailed for contempt of court, until he is forthcoming with the information. Should he finally admit that he had lied; the NPP government should sue him for defamation of character.
As for the NPP government, they must take seriously these claims because they impugn the integrity of the entire government. The government must therefore revoke whatever immunity that the law provides for Rawlings because of his past service to the nation; and then use the law to force the guy to reveal the names.
With regards to the NDC, the ongoing behaviour of their ‘founder', coupled with their inability to muster enough courage to question his utterances; further confirms the leadership as ‘poodles', who may sniff at the ‘founder', but lacks the bite to straighten him up.
Of course, if the reader, like the author has in the immortal words of Kutu Acheampong, detected the hypocrisy of Rawlings; then, the above recommendations remain moot, save their significance for posterity who must learn from our mistakes by being made aware of what character we once had as president of our dearly beloved nation. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.


Kofi Ellison
Kofi Ellison, © 2003

The author has 60 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KofiEllison

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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