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Opinions Thu, 8 Jul 2010

Of Insults, Name Calling and The Intended Resignation

Of Insults, Name Calling and The Intended Resignation: Did the President Expect To Be Treated Differently?

Introduction:

On Thursday, 24.06.10, I came across an interesting article originally published by “The Independent” and posted on “Ghanaweb.com” and other pro-Ghanaian websites. The said piece titled; “Fallout From Rawlings-Govt Brouhaha-Mills Nearly Resigned”, created the impression that the President had sought to resign his post sometime in May this year after having his patience “overstretched to its elastic limit in respect of the scathing and incessant attacks from both former President Rawlings and his close associates…..” Though I do not claim to know the validity or otherwise of the story, I must also confess that, I genuinely do felt and still do feel for the President with regards to the avalanche of insults and derogatory comments being thrown at him from within his own party. One needn’t be in the President’s position to understand how stressful these verbal salvos from his own party members, political associates and most especially, former President Rawlings are making him feel. Herbert Mensah and Ato Ahwoi’s who-said-what-about-the-President’s-health media slugfest was humiliating and very embarrassing. The President’s resolve, it is alleged, was broken by Mr Rawlings’ incessant and vitriolic assault on his person and his team of ministers. As the highest authority of the land, the Presidency demands absolute respect from the high, mighty and low in the land; therefore for former president Rawlings to refer to the current occupant of that office as “Atta mortuary-man, Konongo Kaya and Who born dog” among many other derogatory appellatives was very demeaning to President Mills and the entire country.

Thank God though that the President, upon the advice of his staffers, decided to stick to the job and damn Rawlings and his henchmen who have subjected his poor soul to such torturous treatment. It is gratifying to see the President demonstrating that he has enough big b**ls to stand up to a bully and his beastly hatchet men. It is even more heart-warming to see Prof Mills defying the emotional blackmail antics of a professional bully who thinks Ghanaians and their sitting President must dance to his every whim and caprices. It is on record that when Kuffuor assumed the presidency, Rawlings could call him for impromptu meetings at venues and times suggested by the latter. After attending the first and second of such extempore meetings, Kuffuor decided not to attend any more of such meetings and the rest is history. That act of defiance from Kuffuor resulted in similar name calling to the point of being compared to the notorious armed robber; Ataa Aye.

What surprises me was not so much about the impact such vitriolic attacks have finally had on Prof Mills; rather that he contemplated resigning his post. It appears to me that Prof Mills actually thought he would be treated differently from the other sons and daughters of Ghana who have had the chance of working with Rawlings in the past. That was wishful thinking and a serious miscalculation on the part of Prof Mills and I will tell readers why.

Did the President not know that Rawlings does not keep long term friends?

That Rawlings does not keep long term friends is pretty obvious and so for the President to erroneously assume that he was going to be treated any differently from the many honourable men and women who have worked with Rawlings in the past is very sad indeed. It is undeniable that since the advent of Rawlings on our political terrain, he has had a lot of short term associates (not friends) along the way but no one has lasted longer than necessary. The reason being that, all he has ever sought to do is to use others to advance his parochial political end after which those individuals are jettisoned like a dreaded virus.

Let me take readers down memory lane: What happened to Captain Boakye Djan, Baah Acheamfuor and rest who put their lives at stake to free Rawlings from jail to stage the 1979 coup which preceded the formation of the AFRC in 1979? Boakye Djan has been in the country for a while now but neither he nor the others have ever been given a mention in any June 4 activity. Rawlings has thrown them into the dustbin of history.

Rawlings again staged another coup in 1981 with a different set of people which brought about the PNDC. Captain Kojo Tsikata and others came along to stabilise the regime. Captain Kojo Tsikata, Kwesi Botchway, the Ahwoi brothers, PV Obeng and others are all still alive today but what has Rawlings done to all these people? He would probably not even sell them a virus!!

Again, when Ghanaians voted for multi-party democracy in 1991 and the PNDC metamorphosed into NDC, Rawlings needed an accomplished gentleman to prop up his candidature for the Presidency and he found one in the late Kow Nkensen Arkaah (May his soul rest in perfect peace). Arkaah then was about 68 years of age yet; Rawlings physically assaulted him when the old man allegedly challenged him on some policy issues at a cabinet meeting. Before the late Vice President Arkaah passed away, Rawlings would have nothing to do with him. Interestingly, it was Rawlings’ fallout with the late Arkaah which eventually paved the way for the then Professor Mills to be plugged from obscurity and made a running mate to Rawlings in 1996.

Then again, in 2000 when Kuffour assumed the presidency, though he had briefly served in Rawlings’ military junta in the 1980s, he was never spared Rawlings’ acid tongue and open hatred. Need I add that former President Hilla Limann who was overthrown by Rawlings was treated like someone infected with the dreaded bubonic plague and made to die like a pauper? With this litany of fallouts, why is Prof Mills surprised at the treatment Rawlings is dishing out to him?

The President’s miscalculation

The President’s reaction to resign makes me think that he did not learn any lessons from what happened to all the others before him. Prof Mills appears to have miscalculated or deliberately disregarded Rawlings’ political history; a history littered with human casualties sacrificed to create the enigmatic and mythical Rawlings character we have today. Our Akan folks say, “Se wo hu se wo yonko abodwese reshew a, sa nsu si wo dee ho”, to wit; should you find your neighbour’s beard catch fire, get enough water close by yours since a similar fate could befall you. The lesson in the above adage is to teach us to learn from the misfortunes of others and take measures to guard against similar fate befalling us. For some inexplicable reason, the President seems to have disregarded this basic lesson. Prof Mills probably thought Boakye Djan, Baah Acheamfour, Kojo Tsikata, the late Arkaah, the Ahwoi brothers, former President Kuffour and the rest deserved the treatment Rawlings subjected them to. In truth, President Mills was with Rawlings when the latter was issuing some of his demeaning and derogatory statements against Kuffour and nodded his approval like an agama lizard. Another Akan adage goes like this; “Se wo koto se osebo te odasani so a, ka se sore yenso; nka se sore ne so efiri se, ofiri ne so a ode beba wo so.” The translation of the above is simply this: Should you come across a tiger attacking another person, you should command the tiger thus; Leave us alone and not leave him alone since the latter command may cause the tiger to leave its victim to attack you instead. Again, the lesson here is that, human beings should take collective responsibility in correcting the wrongs in our society. When Kuffour was being humiliated by Rawlings, President Mills never sought to advice Rawlings to exercise any decorum. Standing by and watching the tiger (Rawlings) consume Kuffour; President Mills forgot he was leaving himself open to attacks by same wild animal. The President seems not to have got water close by as Boakye Djan, Arkaah, Capt Tsikata, Kuffour and others beards were set on fire by Rawlings. The late Arkaah and many others who came into the life of Rawlings were honourable men who meant well but none lasted the life time of Rawlings and it makes me wonder how on earth the President could assume that Rawlings would treat him any differently from all the above persons?

In as much the verbal scud missiles Rawlings has been launching at the President is regrettable; it is needless to say also that those who play with snakes certainly suffer fatal snake bites at some point. The President stood by and did nothing as the tiger devoured Kuffour and others before him; sadly though to say that he has himself become game for this insatiable carnivorous animal. In spite of the erroneous assumptions of the President about Rawlings, I urge him to take comfort in the fact that all the others before him suffered similar fate so he is in good company after all. Prof Mills should not get distracted by the next door neighbour’s toothless bulldog which can only bark but run from its own shadow. In the same vein, I want our politicians to learn to condemn not only the Nana Adarkwa’s and the High Priest’s of today but the high and mighty in our society whether they share our political beliefs or not; and most especially, when their pronouncements seek to bring the office of our President to public ridicule and disrepute.

Kofi Kyei-Mensah-Osei

Columnist: Kyei-Mensah-Osei, Kofi