Former Special Aide to the Ex-President, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings has detailed circumstances that led to the use of toy airplanes by the late statesman in his cabinet meetings.
Dr. Donald Senanu Agumenu explained that though this was something his former Boss used to do, interpretations attached to why he did that were totally misconstrued.
In a book authored by his former government appointee and friend, Prof. Kwamena Awhoi, he revealed how Mr. Rawlings used to fidget with his airplane models during cabinet meetings.
Prof. Awhoi attributed the phenomenon to Ex-President Rawlings’ lack of understanding of certain “technical issues that used to be debated”.
“Oftentimes, he would feign disinterest and be looking through the window or playing with his toy planes” the former minister wrote on page 232 of his ‘Working with Rawlings’ book.
But Dr. Agumenu, whilst eulogizing the late Mr. Rawlings, sought to bring perspective to the subject. According to him, the late former President was a listener who mastered the art of listening, prioritised people’s inputs during meetings and would only speak when the need arose.
“If you say that President Rawlings plays with his toy airplanes or gadgets, it's true because this is something he said himself,” he said.
“If it is about holding that, it is true but that will not subject him to be seen or graded, or communicated as if he didn’t know what he was doing. He said this repeatedly to me and to others that those days he was doing that, he used that moment to lead effectively. President Rawlings will sit down here, you are talking, he will behave as if he is not even listening to you, but he is listening. When every discussion is going on and he realizes that everything is on point, he will keep quiet, he won’t interrupt, he will respect your views, whether young or old. If you are not able to contribute, he will say, ‘you have not spoken’, he would want to hear from you. Maybe out of 20 minutes or an hour, that is the only time that he has spoken.
“If he realises that the direction you are going, there is a missing link, he will come in to say that why not think about this side, do it this way, that way,” he added.
The former special aide of about 6 years maintained that Mr. Rawlings merely used the said toy airplanes as a de-stresser during some of those meetings. He maintained that it in no way suggested that Mr. Rawlings was ignorant of the happenings around him.
“Leaders perfect the art of stress management. As a leadership coach, I understand perfectly and I know that in that situation, if a leader should even pick whatever gadgets at that time, when you put it into the context, the climate at that time, a lot was going on at that moment.
“As a leader, you need a sound mind, need to identify your stressors, distress and positive stress and how you can manage those moments. You do that to refresh yourself, put your mind back and quickly get the direction. President Rawlings was using all those moments to lead effectively,” he noted.
Meanwhile, preparations are underway to lay to rest, late Ex-president, Jerry John Rawlings from the 24th to the 27th of January, 2021, according to a communique by the Foreign Affairs Ministry to the international community and diplomatic missions.
Mr. Rawlings died at the age of 73 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra on November 12, 2020.