As Victor Smith goes to aid of Rawlings Nov 30, (Gye Nyame Concord) --THE NEWS WAS striking, controversial and sounded unbelievable when it got to this paper at 10pm Sunday. Former President Jerry John Rawlings had done it again, a source said. His iron Mike Tyson-like 'shaking' of first Fourth Republic Vice President Kow Nkensen Arkaah, repeated early this year at Ashaiman on an NDC youth Tony seini Adamu, had been repeated in far away Bongo in the Upper East Region on an NPP District Chief Executive, Clement Atikiya, said the source.
And since the news broke, albeit over-coloured in the initial report, there have been colourful drama, spin and counter spin over the 'bongo man' affair, with a major bombshell dropped by Mr. Victor Smith, Special Aide to ex-President Jerry John Rawlings.
In a press statement on the 'bongo man affair Monday, Mr Smith suggested that Ghana's peace would be trumpeted like that of the Ivory Coast if the Kufuor-led administration makes an attempt to stop Professor Mills from winning the elections.
According to him, Ghanaians are waiting patiently to uproot the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the December 7 polls barring any attempt to rig, and that any attempt to rig the elections would see Ghana go the Ivorian way.
“…My advice to them is simple, let us have a free and fair election if Ghana is not to go the way of Ivory Coast,” Smith said in the concluding part of his press statement on the Rawlings assault of the Bongo DCE issued Monday.
Ivory Coast is presently in an unstable situation, with the country largely divided between a rebel led government in the northern parts of the country whilst the Laurent Gbagbo regime heads the southern part. There are still ongoing attempts by ECOWAS sub-regional heads and the United Nations to solve the unstable political crisis.
Speaking further on the Bongo assault case, Victor Smith fiercely countered the claim that together with some NDC supporters, Rawlings mercilessly beat up the Bongo DCE. He described the statement as a total fabrication and at variance with what actually happened.
He accused government, especially Deputy Minister for Information, Andrew Awuni and sections of the media of putting so much spin on the incident.
He further described sections of the media as “non-objective, unprofessional, corrupt NPP-friendly press”.
He also accused Awuni of engineering an assault charge against Rawlings. “Even though the DCE has admitted that President Rawlings did not “beat” him, he has been forced by the likes of Andrew Awuni to go to make up an assault story”, Rawlings' Special Assistant wrote in his press statement.
Efforts to reach Mr Awuni for his comments by press time proved futile.
Mr. Smith suggested that the Bongo incident was part of moves hatched by the NPP government to give a false impression that Ghanaians desire Kufuor. Below is the full press statement issued and signed by Mr Victor Smith, titled “Press Statement: The Issue of Rawlings & the DCE.”
“Daily Guide issue of Monday, November 22, 2004 has published a false story stating categorically that former President J J Rawlings together with some supporters of the NDC mercilessly beat up the DCE of Bongo, Clement Atikiya. This is a total fabrication by the Daily Guide and at variance with what actually happened in Bongo.
A Deputy Minister of information, Andrew Awuni, who is an NPP candidate for the Bongo district and who was not present when the incident occurred was first to put a spin on the incident and transmit it to the non-objective, unprofessional, corrupt NPP-friendly press, including Daily Guide in Accra. The former President has given his side of the story to a couple of FM radio stations.
The DCE of Bongo, driving home after a public function saw a large crowd of NDC supporters being addressed by former President Rawlings. The crowd had spilled over unto the street and that necessitated approaching vehicles to slow down. Unfortunately, the DCE decided to bulldoze his way through the crowd which provoked a reaction from the crowd. But for the timely intervention of the former President, the DCE could have been lynched. Instead of showing appreciation for the help from President Rawlings, the DCE has allowed himself to be used by the spin doctors of the Kufuor campaign, particularly Andrew Awuni, to spread falsehood and contribute to the heightening political tension in Ghana in the run up to the December 7 elections.
Even though the DCE has admitted that President Rawlings did not “beat” him, he has been forced by the likes of Andrew Awuni to go to make up an assault story. Daily Guide editor Gina Blay has also admitted to me personally that their headline was in fact inaccurate.
Even though available polls conducted by the Daily Graphic, the national and biggest newspaper, has shown clearly that the people of Ghana do not want a second 4-year term for Mr. J.A. Kufuor (62 per cent do not want Kufuor for election 2004), moves are being made by the NPP government both at home and elsewhere to give a false impression that the people desire Kufuor. Indeed the Daily Graphic has recently been found out to have prepared a dummy edition of its December 8, 2004 publication showing that world leaders have hailed Kufuor for a sweeping victory in the December 7 elections, when the elections are two weeks away.
Polls conducted by many of the FM radio stations by phone have revealed that over 70 per cent of Ghanaians would prefer Professor Atta Mills of the NDC to JA Kufuor because of Kufuor's incompetence and the high levels of corruption within his government and the insensitivity by Kufuor and his appointees to the worsening plight of the average Ghanaian.
In the run up to the December 2004 election Ghanaians are disgusted at the huge amounts of money being spent by President Kufuor to advertise himself for re-election: huge billboards are being erected all over Ghana with his picture, when pregnant and nursing mothers are having to sleep on the floors at the country's hospitals and people are being kept in hospitals because they cannot afford to settle their hospital bills.
The people of Ghana are waiting patiently for December 7 to make their choice of who to lead Ghana for the next 4 years and we have no doubt at all that Professor Mills will prevail, barring any attempt by Kufuor and his bunch to rig the election. But my advice to them is simple let us have a free and fair election if Ghana is not to go the way of Ivory Coast.
May God bless Ghana.”