25.05.2018 Feature Article

Opinion: I Stopped Rawlings From Extending His Tenure

Opinion: I Stopped Rawlings From Extending His Tenure
25.05.2018 LISTEN

Kumasi, May 25, 2018 - My grandchildren came to spend their holidays with me at Pankrono, Kumasi, because their grandmother had temporarily relocated to Morso in Asante-Akyem to attend to her sick mother. They pestered me with many questions.

'Grandpa, Grandma said you were the Acting General Manager and Supervising Chief Editor of Ghana News Agency (GNA), what work did you do there?' Blessed Abigail Boatemaa Asare, form one junior secondary school student, asked one day.

'My work was to ensure that there was peace in the country so that you can go to school, peacefully', Grandpa said, hoping to cut short the questions.

Grandpa miscalculated, as Ernest Gabriel Sukper, a class one pupil, fired. 'So you were a Policeman?'

Grandpa had to explain the difference between the work of a Journalist and a Policeman. It was in the course of the explanation that Grandpa said: "I was the one who stopped President Jerry John Rawlings from extending his tenure of office."

Precious Ivone Sukper, a class four pupil, shouted: "Eeei Grandpa!!

Grandpa was, therefore, forced to give an explanation.

The 2000 Presidential Election held on December 7, 2000 was inconclusive because President John Agyekum Kufuor, candidate of New Patriotic Party (NPP), who came first, could not make the constitutional requirement of more than 50% of total votes cast.

A Presidential Election Run-off was, therefore, conducted between President Kufuor and Vice-President John Evans Atta Mills, candidate of National Democratic Congress (NDC), on December 28, 2000.

At that time Grandpa was a Senior Editor and a Gatekeeper at GNA. He took his annual leave after the first round of the elections.

On Wednesday December 27, 2000, Grandpa was sleeping in his bedroom at his government-allocated apartment - Flat Four Block C, Switchback Road, Cantonments, opposite The 37th Military Hospital, Accra, at about 10:00 hours.

Grandma, Lydia Dufie Boakye was preparing banku for supper. She was cooking that early because she was to attend Women's Fellowship meeting at the Ghana Police Church, nearby.

While Grandpa was sleeping, he heard: "Boakye se wo se Kufuor be ye President, sore ko adwuma na ko ye no President" to wit "Boakye you said Kufuor would be President go to work to make him President."

Grandpa woke up and went to the kitchen to ask Grandma Lydia whether anybody had come to our apartment.

She said nobody had come there. From where she was sitting she could see anybody, who entered the apartment.

Whosoever spoke must have been following events in Ghana. Around 1996, Grandpa wrote a rejoinder to an article written by Professor Kwesi Yanka in 'The Mirror", a weekly newspaper published by Graphic Communication Group, under the series "Woes of a Kwaitrot". The title was 'Kumasi Aye Hu'.

Grandpa's rejoinder was titled 'Kumasi Aye Hu Indeed' and appeared on page two of the newspaper. The concluding paragraph went something like this; "according to this computer, which brings out nonsensical conclusions, Kufuor is President at the turn of the century. Did I hear someone say God forbid? But can we change this?"

After Grandma said nobody had come to the apartment, Grandpa went to shower and went to the office of Mr Edward Ameyibor, Supervising Chief Editor of GNA at the time.

Immediately he saw Grandpa he said: "Mr Boadi I was about to call you to come and take charge of the coverage of the Presidential Election Run-off."

He took a paper and wrote on it and said Grandpa should take it to the Cashier (Mr Sasu). Mr Sasu gave Grandpa one million cedis and Grandpa signed for it.

When Mr Sasu was paying Grandpa he asked: 'Mr Boadi, why are they paying you one million cedis only while all the Senior Editors were paid two million cedis?

Grandpa replied that they might not have included his name when they were preparing the budget because he was on leave.

When Grandpa got to the reception Mr Kafui Johnson, General Manager of GNA at the time, saw him and asked: "Mr Boadi are you here because of the 'golden hand shake'?"

Grandpa replied: "I did not get gold, I got silver". Both of us laughed over it.

Mr Ameyibor, had directed Grandpa to take charge of the Thursday night shift. When he reported

for duty he saw a note clipped to the log board on which all processed stories were recorded. The note

said: "Mr Boadi, send out only certified results not provisional results." The signature under it was not legible.

Grandpa prepared the log for only certified results, but just as he was standing up to go and prepare the log for foreign stories he heard: "Boakye ma ennye no saa, se wo ye no saa won betumi awia mu." to wit "Boakye don't do it that way. If you do it that way they could cheat".

Grandpa looked around but there was nobody in the large newsroom.

You may be wondering why Grandpa has been hearing voices. It began in 1967 when he was in form three at Ghana Secondary School, Koforidua. It was the policy of your Great-Grandfather, Opanin Kofi Boadi that his children should go to his farm during the holidays to weed so that the money, which would have been used to hire labourers would be given to them when schools re-opened.

So Grandpa went to Buaben, near Dunkwa-on-Offin in the Central Region during the holidays. When school was about to reopen Ghana Railway Workers went on a strike. So he was directed to go to a nearby village to go and pick a vehicle to Dunkwa.

He was to follow a path that would take him there. But he got lost in the bush. He panicked and started shouting: 'Huuuuuh! Huuuuuh!! Huuuuu!!! When he turned he saw a Man standing on his right. He did not hear any footsteps. Under normal circumstances he should have heard the rattling of cocoa leaves since he was in a cocoa farm.

The Man asked why Grandpa was shouting and when he told Him the reason, He showed him a very tall tree far away and said the path was under that tree. Since that day Grandpa hears the voice anytime he was in difficulty.

Back to the GNA newsroom. Grandpa prepared a new log sheet that made provision for both provisional and certified results.

The first provisional result came in around 02:00 hours, Grandpa processed it and pushed it. The radio stations picked it and announced it.

By the time of Editorial Conference at 08:00 hours on Friday December, 28, 2000 a substantial number of provisional results had been processed and sent out. Meanwhile, not a single certified result had been released by the Electoral Commission.

At the Editorial Conference nobody asked Grandpa why he sent out provisional results. While the official car was taking Grandpa home, the Voice told him that Vice-President Mills would concede defeat by 14:00 hours.

When he got home he had a very sound sleep and woke up around 16:00 hours. He immediately called his immediate boss, Mr Lante Lawson and asked him whether Vice-President Mills had conceded defeat and he said no.

Apparently, Grandpa had misinterpreted the message. If Vice-President Mills conceded defeat at 14:00 he would need time to prepare his concessionary statement.

Incidentally it was when Grandpa went back to work at about 20:00 hours that Vice-President Mills called him and told him to send somebody to come to his office to collect the concessionary statement.

Grandpa called Mr Kwasi Kpodo and told him to go and collect the statement, because he covered the Vice-President for GNA.

Mr Kpodo said the Vice-President Office had already called him and that he was on his way to the Castle. He brought the statement and Grandpa worked on it quickly.

Grandpa asked Mr Kpodo to call the then Candidate Kufuor to comment on the statement. Tried as he did, he could not get him.

However, when he called The Late Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey he got him. He was in the company of Candidate Kufuor and he asked him to comment on the statement. He did and we made a story out of what he said.

Coincidentally, the Ho Office of GNA had also sent a report on what Candidate Kufuor said when he went on Volta Radio in Ho. He said in essence that he would not discriminate against Volta Region. The three stories were packaged and made ready for the first transmission at midnight.

Soon after the stories were sent, the British High Commission called Grandpa and asked for confirmation.

BBC picked it as breaking news. When BBC announced that Vice-President Mills had conceded defeat, soldiers, who had been assembled at the Efuah Sutherland Park, Accra, getting ready to be deployed to go to various radio stations to take control, were asked to return to the barracks.

This is what made President Mills to tell Grandpa when he met him at the Greenland Hotel, Agona Swedru some years later: "You saved this country! You saved this country! Especially the timing! Especially the timing! I will not in the pursuit of my political ambition to become the President of this country, do anything that would lead to the shedding of the blood of any Ghanaian."

You should, therefore, be proud because your Grandpa saved this country.

The three grandchildren started clapping and shouting: "Grandpa is a hero! Grandpa is a hero!! Grandpa is a hero!!!

The Writer, Boakye-Dankwa Boadi, was the Acting General Manager and Supervising Chief Editor of Ghana News Agency, when he went on retirement in November 2011.