Silence is diamond, Mr. Rawlings

One wishes that having officially exited the political scene for some 16 years now, Chairman Jerry John Rawlings would have kept his cool and let those whose generational turn it is presently to run the affairs of the country do the same.

Alas, ever since he wistfully handed over the reins of governance, upon considerable pressure from the international community, Mr. Rawlings has spent most of his time in retirement incessantly heckling his successors and political opponents, to the annoyance of most of the country’s citizenry.

There have even been times when the sanity of the coup-addicted junta leader has been questioned by even some who once fanatically admired the man. For many of us, Chairman Rawlings epitomizes the country’s recent political culture of abject disrespect, if, in fact, he did not actually invent the same.

Which is why many of us find his latter-day pretense to statesmanship, or stilted attempts to stay above the fray, as it were, more insufferably offensive than can be described here.

Indeed, many of us wish that having wantonly exploited the hardworking and longsuffering Ghanaian civil servant and the masses of workers at all levels of endeavor to more than his fill, one imagines, that Chairman Rawlings could cultivate some modicum of decency by going quietly into the sunset of his undoubtedly eventful career and retirement and contentedly enjoying his pelf. But, of course, we all know that wishes are no dromedary caravans.

Well, the man who not quite long ago had the effrontery to call the Presidential Candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, a dwarf, in, of all places, the Manhyia Palace of His Royal Majesty, The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei-Tutu, II, now has the nerve to admonish Ghanaians to refrain from the public and political use of abusive language. Sometimes, one gets the impression that the bloodiest Ghanaian military dictator may very well think and believe that he is an entity all unto himself; and that he is well over and above the laws of the land.

And that, somehow, the rest of us mortals do not only have our own set of laws, but that actually such laws are at the dictates of the man who effectively dominated our national political landscape for some two protracted decades and did not brook the slightest ideological dissent.

To hear him wax pontifical, and hypocritical, about the advent of our Fourth-Republican dispensation having been for the most part peaceful, conveniently ignoring the stark fact that the Hilla (Babini) Limann-led People’s National Party (PNP) he so cynically ousted, on December 31, 1981, in what the most vociferous of the Trokosi Nationalist Scholars and Thinkers deviously described as a “surgical revolution,” had been democratically elected under the aegis of a democratic and republican Constitution. In other words, for the former Ghana Airforce’s flight-lieutenant, he is the sole arbiter of what constitutes a legitimate system of governance.

He may well have long forgotten this but, of course, the rest of us vividly remember that in the wake of 1996 general election, there were widespread reports of extra-judicial killings all over the country, but most especially in his home turf of the Volta Region, of largely Ghanaian citizens suspected to have cast their ballots for any one of the political opponents of both Chairman Rawlings and his juggernaut of a political machine, to wit, the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC). This horrible period may very well have marked the beginnings of the radical induction of what became known as the NDC’s Electoral World Bank.

It is not clear whether the man aims to fool himself or the rest of us into believing that his had been a period of the sort of ideal stewardship and placid political environment that Ghanaians ought to be clamoring for, when recently he had the self-righteous chutzpah to observe that “with exactly one week to go before [Election 2016], the political campaign rhetoric is strewn with invectives, threats and counter-threats” (See “Refrain from Harsh Language; Be Firm – Ex-Prez” 11/30/16).

Let us remind our self-righteous Chairman that in the lead-up to Election 2008, he and quite a slew of the most prominent NDC Abongo Boys and Girls, among them the now-late then-Candidate John Evans Atta-Mills, Lt.-Gen. Arnold Quainoo (aka Toy Soldier) and his own wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, mounted a podium in the Eastern Regional Township of Somanya, in the Manya-Krobo district, and in a threatening rhetorical salvo, obviously aimed at Nana Akufo-Addo, vowed to literally upend the country if the New Patriotic Party was declared the victor.

We may never know the extent to which then-Electoral Commissioner Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan was spooked into calling the election in favor of the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress. Now, Chairman Rawlings wants “Eminent persons, political leaders, security agencies; institutions of state and the Electoral Commission [to assume] a combined responsibility to protect the peace and unity of this country.”

I am not holding my breath, if only primarily because in the view of Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. John Kudalor, the protection of the peace and unity of the country implies the complete shutdown of social networks so as to enable President Mahama and the Electoral Commission (EC) manipulate the levers of voting machines to “Electoral College” the popular mandate of the Ghanaian people, in mainstream American parlance. For Lt.-Gen. Oje, the Ghanaian-born and Nigerian-descended Chief of the Defense Staff, the protection of the peace and unity of the country simply implies intimidating an adequate amount of the Ghanaian citizenry into deathly silence, while Little Dramani conducted business as usual.

Needless to say, what Gen. Oje may have seriously forgotten, perhaps conveniently so, is that nearly every country in which a civil war has erupted also had a standing army. In other words, when it comes to the assertion of the inviolable and inalienable right of the Ghanaian people to liberty and the pursuit of democratic/electoral justice, no organized power on Earth or under the sun, moon and stars is altogether unstoppable.


By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.