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Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings’ political “common sense” is a hard sell

Wed, 4 May 2016 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

AN INTERESTING MACHIAVELLIAN CHARACTER CALLED NANA KONADU AGYEMAN-RAWLINGS

We are of the certain view that a panoramic appraisal of happenings in Ghana makes for emotional childishness for any serious-minded person to dare or even associate common sense with Ghanaian politics, ideally whichever way one tends to look at the question within the larger framework of political typology Ghana is generally identified with, in addition to the manifold phenotypic manifestations accompanying this framework, as an instructional model for interrogating Fourth Republic politics and what this political typology has done for the nation.

The one prominent political economy question of widespread corruption, impunity, political ethnocentrism, insults, ignorance, lies, and superstition bedeviling our politics is no news. However, it may appear monotonous of us to keep harping on this trite approach of righteous catechism—of indicting Ghana’s Orwellian political system. This seemingly jaded approach is understandably attractive because it keeps the spotlight on those intrinsic vulnerabilities of the human content.

Further, what is even “common sense” in Ghanaian politics is hard to define, and hard to define because the unitary nation-state, an artifact of Nkrumah’s visionary imagination, now carries a herculean leechlike hydra-headed duopoly that only knows how best to feed on the ideological blood of internecine acrimony, thus anarchzing a once-promising geopolitical project put together so admirably by the political and intellectual prowess of Africa’s Greatest Man of the Millennium himself, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. What a sad, out-of-the-ordinary turn of fate!

This vampiric duopoly runs roughshod over strategic and tactical prioritization of the national enterprise as children continually study under trees, politicians rape the nation’s pundendal coffers with reckless abandon, political theologians lie and cheat and deceive their following and make them unthinking statues, and political ethnocentrism insults crisscross the length and breadth of the country.

Of course, no one can sell “common sense” in a largely phallocentric country that celebrates and idolizes foolishness and stupidity, political ethnocentrism, mediocrity, and political corruption. Can anyone ever imagine Kennedy Agyapong, a Ghanaian legislator, going to bed only thinking and dreaming about “money and fight”? What is there for a country in such a public character?

In some important ways therefore, Ghana’s internecine duopoly is a claustrophobic crowded space full of the strangulating stench of poisonous Orwellian contradictions that does not allow any room for innovative, creative ideas to blossom let alone impact society in any positive, meaningful context of political discourse. This is unlikely unless an imaginative, pragmatic, and conscionable transformative leader with revolutionary ideas, in the likeness of Nkrumah, is re-born.

But that foreseeable epochal era is not so much a pragmatic dispensation as dreamlike and even impossible.

Thus, Madam Agyeman-Rawlings’ promise to restore common sense in Ghanaian politics, when she gave her quotidian or non-rousing re-election speech, a speech which we generally believe is no-brainer on account of its subtextual ordinariness and also lacks a strategic and tactical policy of pragmatic vision, will be an unattractive political commodity to sell to a public that is more than habituated to an entrenched duopoly, that tends to give them a false perception that they have no rational choice in matters of a viable alternative political discourse and practice.

Of course, her legacy as a well-placed political insider and an outspoken wife to a former president speak to some toughened political experience, but the new landscape of the Orwellian dynamics of Ghanaian politics seriously questions her “fit” for this hardball, dog-eat-dog kind of schadenfreude duopolistic politics.

Plus, the political economy of gender inequality (“sexism”) is as real in Ghanaian politics as death is in human existence, and no political observer should discount or dismiss this factor in any serious political calculations, as far as the political ambitions of women go.

She may not necessarily be the best fit for any sustained regression analysis of Ghana’s duopolistic culture, yet, so too are the likes of Akufo-Addo, Akwasi Addae, President Mahama, Kwesi Nduom, Hassan Ayariga, Ivor Greenstreet, Henry Lartey, Jacob Osei Yeboah, Abu Sankara.

In point of fact, then, that task she has set for herself is an uphill objective, a Sisyphean mandate if you will, with no-end-in-sight methodic implementation of provable execution with any meaningful measurable quality of material or ontological success. The speech itself does not give a diagnostic blueprint for executing this goal.

She will therefore be swimming against the current of public opinion if she dare set her political mind to it, since public opinion is the province of duopolistic manipulation, call it Chomskyan manufactured consent. The public conscience is stuck in this gridlock of manufactured consent.

This is also partly if not largely because her party, the National Democratic Party (NDP), does not have the kind of popular political platform which the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) enjoy in the popular imagination. She and her party therefore have a likely success of wider public acceptance if it merges with or goes into a coalition, a political alliance of sorts, with those two major parties (or the splintered Nkrumahists).

She should not fear losing the political and ideological identity of her party as the NDP is subsumed into either of those two pitched lazy camps representing Ghana’s major duopolistic polarities.

Madam Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings merely has to replace the letter “D” in NDP with the letter “P” then she has NPP; or she has to replace the letter “P” in NDP with the letter the letter “C” then she has NDC.

For one thing, the philosophies and ideologies of the two major political parties are more alike than dissimilar. For another, the easily accessible symbolism of these replacements demonstrates the orthographic elasticity of her acronymized (initialism) political stature in Ghana’s duopolistic culture.

More fundamentally, then, it also demonstrates the switchability of her political and ideological conscience.

This is not difficult to explain. The NPP came about as a natural riposte to the NDC on the back of public disaffection for the NDC and public allergy to the political entrenchment of Rawlings.

There is therefore a practical sense of subtle mutuality in the foundational character of these two major political blocs.

Both John Kufuor, the man who served as Ghana’s president on the ticket of the NPP, and Jerry John Rawlings, Madam Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings’ husband, worked together, even if briefly, in the Fourth Republic before Kufuor’s assumption of the executive presidency. This is public knowledge.

MADAM AGYEMAN-RAWLINGS AND HER POLITICS OF COMMON SENSE

And here is what she reportedly said:

“Our priority is choosing people over politics and that is what our party stands for and that is what I stand for.

“People over politics mean restoring our common sense, peaceful progress, and improvement in our lives.

“Our greatest resource is the people of Ghana because they are the future of the nation.

“Ghana is a great and progressively wealthy country and yet the people are not seeing it as it should have been.

“I would urge you to please return Ghana to the principles upon which it was built.”

In a sense she makes people-centered politics the focus of her political philosophy and ideology, which is not bad in and of itself, a highly commendable approach to inclusive politics. Yet people-centered politics is far from issues-based politics. The two are not obviously the same or even necessarily synonymous. But the more important question is simply this: How is she going to carry this out? Or how achievable is this idea given the contentiousness of Ghana’s duopoly?

MADAM KONADU AGYEMAN-RAWLINGS’ CREDIBILITY PROBLEMS

The New Crusading Guide outlined the following credibility problems in connection with Madam Agyeman-Rawlings (with original authors’ emphasis, read: “The Untold Story of Nana Agyeman-Rawlings: The Personification of Vindictiveness, Insensitivity, Arrogance and Mendacity”):

(1) A MARK OF INSENSIVITY AND LACK OF HUMANITY: (OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2000): She rationalized the abuse of Sellassie Djentuh’s human rights, saying that the forced shaving of the youngman’s hair in a Castle Guardroom with a broken bottle by Castle-based Commandos/Soldiers, was a MERE IDENTIFICATION HAIR CUT! – What Callousness! Coming from a Mother and a Woman?

(2) CONTEMPT FOR LAW & ORDER/MANIPULATION OF PNDC JUSTICE SYSTEM (1987): She was instrumental in the fast-track announcement of release of and freedom for Salifu Amankwah who had callously murdered a 70-year-old man, with the excuse that Salifu Amankwah’s incarceration after his conviction and sentence to death by a Public Tribunal, had created an enabling environment for thieves to raid the offices of the 31st December Women’s Movement with impunity.

(3) INTEGRITY OF LEADERSHIP & CONFLICT OF INTEREST (DECEMBER 1997): Facilitated the gift of a vehicle (Buick Riviera) to her husband, then a sitting President by a Business entity (Masai Motors Limited) whose Owner, Edward Annan had business dealings with a Government Agency. Imagine what Rawlings and company would have done to a recipient of such a gift during the heady days of the AFRC and PNDC?

(4) MAKING FALSE & LIBELOUS ALLEGATIONS (NOVEMBER 22, 1997): While delivering an inaugural address at the out-dooring of the Young Traders Association in Accra, Mrs. Rawlings accused Ms. Christine Churcher, then MP for Cape Coast, of stealing public funds when she was a PNDC Secretary claiming that Ms. Churcher was sacked for allegedly committing that crime.

(5) MAKING FALSE CLAIMS AGAINST SWISSAIR & US CUSTOMS (1994/5): Her complaint that American Immigration authorities had used sniffer dogs on her luggage at a US Airport, turned out to be completely false, after official investigations had been conducted by the former at the instance of the Ghanaian Government.

(6) PEDDLING FALSEHOOD ABOUT HER YOUNGER SISTER (1997): She lied to Gamel Gorkeh Kaku Nkrumah that one of her sisters had defected from their (Agyeman Family) political tradition to the “anti-Nkrumah, right wing opposition”. When her lie was exposed by her brother-in-law, Haruna Atta, she embarked on a vindictive litigation which resulted in the jailing of Mr. Atta at time when his presence in his matrimonial home was absolutely crucial in view of the medical condition of his wife, Mrs. Rawlings’ younger sister.

(7) MORE LIES AND LIES (1995, 1997): Persistently made false claims in Germany, Scotland and the USA that her husband was the first Ghanaian Head of State to believe in the capabilities of women and to have given them (women) a lot of support, adding that Ghana had always had one woman in Parliament since 1957 until her husband’s NDC administration assumed office. This was in spite of the fact that she had been alerted many times that there were as many as 19 women in Parliament by the time of the 1966 Coup and also that Marbel Dove was elected the first woman member of Parliament on the ticket of Nkrumah’s CPP during the legislative elections in 1954; 3 years before independence.

(8) FAILURE TO FULFIL OBLIGATIONS TO THE STATE (1990-2001): Audit Investigations by the Auditor-General revealed that throughout the 1990s, the 31st DWM and its affiliates never submitted Any Annual Report or Statement of Account to the Department of Social Welfare; Never paid any corporate income tax and pay and abused tax and duty exemptions granted the 31st DWM.

(9) DIVERSION OF PUBLIC FUNDS FOR PRIVATE GAIN (JULY 2000): Mrs. Rawlings caused the Chief Executive (Mayor) of the Accra Metro Assembly (AMA) to apply public funds to buy a plot of State Land for her Movement. She publicly claimed the plot as the bona fide property of her Movement until the Auditor General’s investigation exposed the falsity of her claims. So much for integrity, Probity and Accountability!

(10) LIES ABOUT ACHEAMPONG’S FOKKER 28 PRESIDENTIAL JET (2000): Publicly lied at a 31st DWM rally in Tamale, that Mr. J.H. Mensah as Finance Minister in the 2nd Republic, signed the cheque for the purchase of the Fokker 28 when the records indicated that that jet was bought by the Acheampong’s regime in 1978.

(11) INSULTS, INSULTS & INSULTS (1995-2000): Mrs. Rawlings has over the years, heaped insults on her husband’s political opponents including former President Kufuor who he described as ‘Satan’ (November, 1997). Nana Akufo-Addo whose legal/professional credentials she doubted, J.H. Mensah, Mrs. Gladys Asmah, Christine Churcher, etc., etc. She did not even spare a sitting Vice President, the late K.N. Arkaah, her acidic tongue lashing in 1995 in the wake of her husband’s assault on Arkaah at a Cabinet meeting at the Castle, Osu. She told the BBC that “this Vice Presidency thing stinks” whatever that meant.

(12) PERENNIAL FAILURE TO DISCLOSE FINANCIAL DETAILS ABOUT CHILDREN’S OVERSEAS EDUCATION & RESIDENTIAL FACILITIES (1999-2000): The chronic inability or failure or both of ‘the Rawlingses’ TO DISCLOSE THE IDENTITY OR IDENTITIES OF THE SPONSORS OF THEIR CHILDREN’S EDUCATION ABROAD, INCLUDING THE COST OF THEIR RESIDENTIAL FACILITIES, IN THE FACE OF PERSISTENT PUBLIC DEMANDS FOR DISCLOSURE, EFFECTIVELY EXPOSED ‘THE RAWLINGSES’ AS PEOPLE WHO PREACH VIRTUE BUT PRACTICE VICE WHEN IT COMES TO INTEGRITY, PROBITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY.

(13) THE KEYS TO THE MURDER VEHICLE USED BY AMEDEKA & CO. (1982): There’s a long standing issue of how the keys of the murder vehicle used by the ‘killing gang’ who abducted and torched the 3 High Court judges and as retired military officer, on June 30, 1982, were picked up from her dining table for the operation. The Chairman of the Trial Tribunal, Mr. George Agyekum, many years after the trial, wrote a book in which he indicated that the failure to question Mrs. Rawlings on the circumstances surrounding the keys under reference, constituted a minus in the work of the Special Investigations Board (SIB).

(14) CONFISCATION & USE OF THE DAKMAK’S RIDGE HOUSE AS HEADQUARTERS OF 31ST DWM (1986-2007): The said property, Plot No:16, situated at North Ridge, a suburb of Accra, was wrongfully confiscated by Rawlings-led Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) Decree 6 because it did not form part of the assets of Dakmak Group of Companies. It was a private property which should not have been confiscated in anyway. For reasons best known to the PNDC, the PNDCL 325 was strangely enacted two days before their exit from office (January 5, 1993 to make the confiscation of the Dakmak House seem legal. In spite of the manifest injustice meted out to the Dakmaks, Mrs. Rawlings was on Joy FM in 2007, lying that the property was confiscated by the late General Akuffo’s SMC(2) regime and not her hushand’s regimes (AFRC/PNDC).

“GENERAL AKUFFO SEIZED THE PROPERTY BECAUSE THE DAKMAK FAMILY WERE RAPING THIS COUNTRY LIKE CRAZY. AT THAT TIME, WE HAD IMPORT LICENCES; THERE WERE NO GOODS ON THE MARKET AND SO IF YOU NEED TO BRING GOODS TO THE MARKET, YOU NEED TO APPLY AND GET IMPORT LICENCES, AND THEY MANAGED TO WEAVE THEIR WAY INTO THE HEART OF GENERAL ACHEAMPONG, HEAD OF GOVERNMENT AT THAT TIME. HE WAS THEIR FRIEND AND SO THEY GOT THE IMPORT LICENCES WHICH THEY WERE SELLING TO OTHER PEOPLE”, Mrs. Rawlings charged.

As at the time she was accusing the Dakmaks and the late Acheampong, MRS. RAWLINGS’ 31ST DWM HAD BEEN IN THAT PROPERTY AT RIDGE FOR 21 LONG YEARS WITHOUT PAYING ANY RENT. THE LITIGATION OVER THE PROPERTY IS ON-GOING IN THE COURT OF LAW.

CONCLUSION

Madam Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings is still a formidable politician in many interesting ways.

Her ability to outwit the likes of Gertrude Zakaria Ali and Cynthia Nuamah, to name but two original founders of the 31st December Women’s Movement (DWM), speaks to her political astuteness and Machiavellian streaks, what Niccolò Machiavelli called “political realism.”

This fact and others may explain why some within the party hierarchy of the NDC harbor a nagging suspicion of her using her daughter, the beautiful Zenator Agyeman-Rawlings, a medical doctor, to gain access to the inside politics of the NDC, a party her husband and others founded.

In the final analysis, then, we need to encourage our women to take active interest in career politics but we will also do well to discourage the likes of Madam Dzifa Attivor, Madam Victoria Hammah, and Madam Ursala Owusu-Ekuful from assuming any political office in the land.

We should apply this standard to our men too, for politics is not supposed to be the province of men only!

REFERENCES

Ghanaweb. “Our Priority Is To Restore Common Sense—Konadu.” April 30, 2016.

Ghanaweb. “I Only Dream Of Money And Fight—Ken Agyapong.” April 28, 2016.

The Crusading Guide. The Untold Story Of Nana Konadu Agyeman—Rawlings.” Courtesy of Ghanaweb. October 29, 2010.

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis