An open letter to Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi on 'working with Rawlings'

JJ Rawlings Beard Former president, Jerry John Rawlings

Wed, 29 Jul 2020 Source: Dela Coffie

Dear Prof Kwamena Ahwoi,

You told Bernard Avle on Citi Breakfast Show on Monday 27th July that former President Rawlings, ahead of the 2008 elections, did try to get you to undermine Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, the then leader of the NDC.

Indeed, you also confirmed on the same show that this is actually part of the work you've put together in your new book.

Let me attempt to quote you:

"Rawlings was a fantastic leader and there was a time that I would have died for him. As at the time we left office in 2001, the relationship between us was just fantastic.”

But the relationship started deteriorating “when we left office and especially when Mills became President.”

“I personally was responsible for bringing Prof. Mills into his government. Therefore, I felt a certain personal responsibility towards his success as President.”

“But when President Rawlings started turning against him in the manner that he did, it really upset me and I think that is when deterioration in the relationship began.”

Respectfully Sir, I love the fact that you needed to promote your work ahead of the launch, but some of the so-called moments that you claim led to your falling-out with former President Rawlings sound like a fairy tale and too superficial.

As a literature lover and writer, I have followed your work as an academic and I have no doubt in my mind that you represent excellence. Then again, in the spirit of being truly constructive, let me burst your bubble here;

President Rawlings never turned against Mills as you would have us believe. It was Mills who turned against himself, and squandered the sweeping mandate he skillfully won. And Rawlings couldn't have asked you to undermine him. It is a palpable lie, and some of us just can't sit by and watch you distort history all in an attempt to demonise former President Rawlings.

I’d like to fill you in on a few aspects of a complicated matter that has not always been well-understood—even by party stalwarts of your stature —through the years. I won’t go over all the history and theology of Rawlings-Mills relations. Just the basics.

Let’s be real, some of you actually constituted yourselves into a cabinet sorely fit for purpose at the kitchen level and helped Mills to change cause.

At every turn President Mills failed to practice the politics necessary to change the course of this country, sacrificing principles and the greater moral mandate and the unity of the NDC, and the country for that matter on the altar of a reckless political mantra “father for all.” His commitment to bipartisanship and compromise on the issue of social justice caused the rift between himself and Rawlings.

The NDC under Mills campaigned on certain issues and part of the campaign spiel was for new committees to be established on the assassination of Ya-Na and 40 of his elders in March 2002, and also the Issah Mobilla killing. Sadly, this was not deemed necessary by the Mills' administration, to which you played a major role. And as it were, we all witnessed the legal gymnastics on the Ya-Na case.

Again sir, the NDC rode on the back of anti-corruption to power but Mills failed to nail even a cockroach for the corruption rhetoric that we collectively put out during the 2008 campaign. Indeed, he failed to pursue the agenda that the electorate voted for, and his failure to correct the wrongs of the Kufuor regime was a major determinant factor of Rawlings' criticism of his administration.

As a matter of fact, the then opposition NPP took advantage of the inactions of the Mills administration and derailed every initiative and gutted every innovation, while your likes and President Mills continued to reach out, coaxing and pleading for a better day that simply never came.

These are the disagreements Rawlings had with Mills, and he articulated them publicly and openly. It is an open secret and I am taken aback by your narrative, and attempt to put Rawlings up for public ridicule as has been the case over the years.

And here is what is also obvious:

It couldn't have been the case that you personally was responsible for bringing Prof. Mills into Rawlings' government.

The story is told that Rawlings decided in 1995 that he needed to verify figures of taxes collected on behalf of this nation by the Internal Revenue Service.

Apparently, the President was not comfortable with figures issued by the Ministry of Finance at the time. When President Rawlings arrived at the Acting Commissioner’s Office and met with Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, he was impressed with his honesty from the way and manner the Acting Commissioner took him through the figures.

According to information available to yours truly, figures available at the Internal Revenue Service indicated that the state had been short-changed by the Finance Ministry.

Prof. Atta Mills, in the opinion of then President Rawlings was an honest man. That is how Prof Mills came to be nominated to run alongside the sitting President at the time on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress.

After four years of dedicated service to the cause of the Presidency, the nation, and ultimately, the party, Prof. Mills endeared himself to the former President to the extent that he was prepared to gamble on him to the disgust of long-standing cadres. That is what led to President Rawlings declaring Prof. Mills his heir-apparent, and risked splitting the party in what has now become known as the SWEDRU DECLARATION of 1999.

So, there you have it, Prof Kwamena Ahwoi.

Rawlings after the "SWEDRU DECLARATION" worked tirelessly to see Mills elected as president. It was Rawlings' toil that saw Mills through the year 2000, 2004 and 2008 campaign. There's nobody in the NDC who worked better to see Mills succeed than the man who brought him into the political limelight. Day and night, dawn and dusk, on pontoons and ferries Jerry John Rawlings campaigned as if his life depended on it to ensure especially the 2008 victory.

Let no one take any undeserved glory.

As somebody, who worked closely with President Rawlings, you must be aware by now that, he is a man with strong convictions who has often stood alone and fought for what he believed when others would not. His views on what he fought for in 1979/81 and defended when your likes would not and could not has been what he is all about and he is unlikely to change. Indeed, he has borne the cross of what the NDC stands for. His life has never been about pleasing people but standing for what he has believed in and he never wavered.

To even imagine that some of you are still on this path of ridicule to discredit agenda at this time of the day is a profound statement which draws light on the anti-Rawlings sentiments in the NDC.

It is about time this adolescent and peer driven mentality of bastardising Rawlings even without provocation stops.

Rawlings has never been the problem- The cabal of elites including your good self who surrounded Mills, and believed that for the good of your personal interest, it is your duty to turn Ghana into another Orwellian failed state are the problem.

Columnist: Dela Coffie