By Dr. Michael J. K. Bokor
I don’t doubt the common saying that whatever is inflated too much will burst into fragments. Kofi Adams, former President Rawlings’ spokesman, has been reported as threatening court action against news media that publish defamatory news reports about the former President. According to him, the spate of calumny had become too much and the intended court action might become the best option to curtail such vile anti-Rawlings propaganda. Thus, Kofi Adams wants such news media outlets to know that “Enough (of their treachery against Rawlings) is enough!!” Something has begun bursting already. I pity him and his boss on this score. But I will turn the issue round to tell Kofi Adams and his boss that a single bracelet doesn’t jingle. If enough is enough for those who portray Rawlings the way they do things, let it be known today that the time has come for Rawlings too to know that enough (of his penchant for confrontation and belligerence) is enough for him too. I will soon justify my position.
News reports about Rawlings’ visit to the Kotoka International Airport to take snap shots of aircraft in hangars there and his early morning visit to the Air Force Base in Accra to inspect fighter jets, among others, are alarming. But as if unconcerned about the far-reaching implications of those impetuous acts to the Mills government and the country, generally, Rawlings has not relented in his efforts to tread on dangerous grounds on the political landscape. His open and scathing criticisms of the manner in which President Mills is conducting affairs and his bellicose public posture and utterances (as reported from the pre-bye-election rally at Jirapa in the Upper West Region) are inimical to the NDC’s cause, to say the least.
But he appears to be unwavering and is gearing up to push his belligerence a notch higher. There are allegations that he is behind the current spate of acts of resistance against President Mills’ nominees for the positions of Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executive Officers. By setting himself up as a JUDGE over how Ghana should be governed, is Rawlings not biting off more than he can chew? Is he not laying himself open to what Kofi Adams is complaining about? He must know that he who asks questions cannot avoid answers!! And I have many answers for him.
If nobody close to Rawlings will be bold enough to point out his waywardness to him, some of us will do so from afar. It is high time someone told him straight to his face that he is not destined to determine how anybody should do things to move Ghana forward. He has already had his bite (at the bullet for the almost 20 years that he ruled the country) and must recede to the background to allow those that the Ghanaian electorate have mandated to mould the country’s future to do so in an atmosphere of peace, tolerance, and unity of purpose. Restless feet may walk into a snake pit. And because his feet are restless, he is getting slowly there.
It irks me to continuously read news reports about Rawlings here and there as if that’s all one has to be bombarded with all the time. Can he not find himself something more useful to do than criss-crossing the country and making himself the butt of ridicule and calculated treachery on the pages of the newspapers and electronic media that are hostile to his cause and, invariably, that of the NDC?
Some of us are completely angry at the manner in which he has set himself up as a parallel authority to head-butt the Mills government. In effect, he has taken too much liberty and must cease tempting Fate!!
Granted that he used such headstrong measures to create anxious moments for the Kufuor-led NPP government, which seemed to provide opportunities for the NDC in its electioneering campaign strategies, the time has come for him to draw the line somewhere. The tactics that he used to torment Kufuor and his gang are no more useful in the situation where his own party is in government. No one is saying that he should be gagged or that he shouldn’t criticize any shortcoming that he may perceive. He can make his voice heard but not in the manner in which he has conducted affairs so far. He has chosen a path of confrontation, which is definitely counter-productive in this sense.
I have the hunch that if he continues doing things the way he has been doing them since the NDC regained political power from the NPP, he will only create favourable conditions for the party to mess up and return to the sidelines in opposition by the time the 2012 elections are over. Then, in the opposition, he should begin all over again to see whether anybody will follow him or return the NDC to power. All over the world, former Heads of State have found better ways to conduct themselves to earn the respect of their compatriots and the world at large.
I monitor world events and it doesn’t escape me that he is the only former Head of State who is not at peace with either himself or the whole world around him. He is behaving as if anybody owes him any debt of gratitude. All that he achieved as Ghana’s ruler is evident and the country’s history will be incomplete without his inclusion in it. When he moves about and receives cheers from those he interacts with, it is a clear demonstration of that acknowledgement. Beyond that, there is only one consolation for him—despite persistent attempts by his political opponents to calumniate him, he still stands tall above them and their chicanery. Why can’t he comfort himself with this realization and behave as such?
As I said in one of my articles sometime ago, the future viability of a political party will depend on the image that its current leaders carve for it. It has taken the NDC a hard, rough struggle to be back in the corridors of power. The problems facing the Mills government are daunting and it will not need any extra-ordinary stretch of anybody’s imagination to predict that if care is not taken in the conduct of government business to tackle those problems, it will be difficult for the government to fully satisfy Ghanaians. Here is a warning: The Ghanaian electorate to whom promises have been made are intolerant, impatient, and unforgiving if such promises end up in smoke. If you doubt it, go and ask Kufuor and the Akufo-Addo gang!!
From the look of things so far, it appears that attention is already divided between trying to contain the fallouts of the Rawlings menace and concentrating on governance to achieve the pre-100-day goals that the then Professor Mills had set before entering office on January 7, 2009. Wasting precious time in trying to contain the Rawlings nuisance is itself a big punishing burden. How does President Mills prove that he is his “own man”? On the other hand, how does Rawlings prove to Ghanaians that “a vote for Atta Mills is indeed not a vote for Rawlings”? For now, Rawlings is making matters difficult for everybody.
Even though I am one of those who think that President Mills is being slow and somehow uncertain about how exactly to tackle issues decisively, I think that putting spokes in his government’s wheel at this time will not help matters. The NDC’s house appears to be packed with too many hot potatoes already!! The most dangerous situation for the NDC is this intra-party bickering and open confrontation that is now the order of the day, apparently because of the public posture and utterances of Rawlings and his backers in the hierarchy of the NDC. Are these people so shortsighted already not to know that their stance will create so much bad blood as to throw the party into disarray? Do they not recall the impact of the desertion by the National Reform Party elements or the complete erosion of confidence in the cadres that made it difficult for the party to stand on its feet under the Kufuor government? How can Rawlings and his ilk behave so recklessly all too soon?
I am concerned that this intra-party rivalry and unnecessary head-butting will not abate soon unless something happens to help the main actors listen to reason. The time has come to drum it into Rawlings’ head that the NDC can do better if he finds a better and more refined approach to making his voice heard on matters. I don’t think that he will want to be remembered by posterity as someone who toiled hard to bring the NDC into being only to turn round to bring it down. That will be a travesty of political justice!! Rawlings should have done things in a better manner than what he has given us so far. If he has too much time and too little to do for which the “devil” appears to be finding work for him (as an idle hand), I have one good piece of advice for him—to take up the call to begin working on his memoirs. I will make myself available to him to do the collection and collation of the necessary data. I will also help in the writing of the drafts if he so wishes to use my services. I will not charge him a pesewa for all that if only it will keep him occupied enough to know that he can make better contributions to the political history of Ghana through means other than what he has chosen to use now. His political sun has already set!!
My final thoughts for Rawlings are simple: The parrot that knows how precious its feathers are does not build its nest by the roadside. If he doesn’t want what is happening to him now, he should control himself, keep off the limelight, and redirect his energies to something other than seeking to actively participate in the kind of politics going on in the country now, which differs largely from what he practiced many years ago. The new NDC has broken away from its past of unproductive militancy and empty political rherotic. The NDC’s agenda of Social Democracy appears to have caught on with the Ghanaian electorate; hence the mandate given the party to govern the country for the next four years. The need, therefore, arises for all stakeholders in the party to support President Mills and his team’s efforts so that the government can do what will endear it to Ghanaians. Then, if all goes well by the time of the 2012 polls, there could be hope that the party would retain political power. Anything short of that will send it back to the political wilderness again and Rawlings cannot escape blame.
For now, he may choose to go to court over unpalatable stories about him; but in the long run, if his utterances and actions continue to keep him in the public domain, there is nothing he can do to avoid all that tongue-lashing, especially within the context of his controversial utterances and insistence on calling the shots. More importantly, if he ends up endangering the NDC’s future prospects, he will not be forgiven. He must know that the bitter heart eats its owner. Enough must be enough for Rawlings because he has already filled his mouth with a razor and shouldn’t be surprised if he begins to spit blood!!