Take him on, Mrs. Rawlings

Mon, 18 Apr 2011 Source: Ogyakromian

The former first lady of Ghana, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings announced her resignation from her post as a Vice Chair for the ruling party on the 13th of April so she can take on the sitting president for the right to represent the NDC in next year's presidential election. It is no secret that the Rawlings' have been planning this move for some time. The former president hasn't relented in his criticism of the government of his anointed successor for almost two years. He has gone to the extent of accusing him of surrounding himself with 'greedy bastards'.

It was obvious to any casual observer that the NDC was suffering from a leadership crisis. The party has been torn between the camp of the Ex President and founder of the party, Chairman Rawlings; and the camp of sitting President and leader of party, Professor Mills. Rawlings has been the more aggressive of the two even threatening to take back his party. There was only one way to end this contest – a leadership challenge. The NDC leadership scored full marks by calling for an early election. It is another way of telling the Rawlings camp to put up or shut up! As the ewe's put it, 'eze wu ze t? gb? wo kp? n? le'

(If you want to determine which pot is bigger, get to the river) .The Rawlings camp took up the gauntlet and nominated Nana Konadu for the contest, and hurray! We have a fight on our hands.

It is no secret that the blood of democracy does not run through the veins of Mr. Rawlings. It is to the credit of the success of our democracy, that a demagogue like him accepts an election to assert himself (through his beloved) over the party he is supposed to have founded. I am however worried that the wave of support for Prof. Mills coming from party executives all over the country may just pressurize the fire brand leader of the 31stDecember women's movement to chicken out of the contest. Luckily for neutral observers who want to see the contest, the Rawlings' are not the type to be moved by such psychological shadow boxing. They believe the whole of Ghana loves them and the NDC worships them. To them, the former Chairman Rawlings is a larger than life personality, whose rants get even the attention of the gods. He can do no wrong.

Chairman Rawlings has an enviable record of power acquisition in Ghana. Apart from the 15th May 1979 faux pas, the army successfully got Rawlings out of jail on the 4th of June 1979 to lead the country for three months before inaugurating the third republic. Barely two years after handing over power to the late President Limann, he came back to overthrow him in a coup . He survived several counter coups until he handed over power to himself in 1993 after winning the first democratic election under the fourth republic in 1992. He subsequently won a second term under this republic in the 1996 election. He was very instrumental in the campaign that brought the NDC back to power with Professor Mills as the President. At a BBC debate on the university of Ghana campus in the mid nineties, one of the debaters, Dr. Audrey Gadzekpo asserted that the president's (Rawlings) career path was not what many mothers will advise their children to take, but of a truth, if you consider the end game, one can only admit that he has had a very successful career. Who will not feel invincible with such a career record?

What the Rawlings' fail to understand is that, this is 2011 and not 1992. Before the 1992 constitution, Rawlings has snuffed out any trace of dissent in the country. For most part of his eleven years reign as a dictator, most Ghanaians only heard and believed government propaganda disseminated by the state media, nobody was allowed to market alternate ideas. To many, let Rawlings be true, and every man a liar. An election right after this period of our history cannot be fair to anyone unless of course, you are Rawlings. In 1996, the situation hadn't changed much because the opposition stayed away from parliament through a boycott of the 1992 parliamentary election. After 2000, Ghana moved on without Rawlings controlling power, the NDC got used to the idea that they may have a leader other than Rawlings. It is only natural that your stock would depreciate with time.

Fast forward to 2009, and NDC is in power again but the President is Mills not Rawlings. The praise singers learn to compose new songs; the man whose eye you need to catch today is Mills not Rawlings, the signature that gets the attention of a foreign government to accept you as an ambassador for Ghana is that of Mills. If Rawlings goes about, insulting Mills and denigrating him, for once, even the people in the NDC will begin to recognize Rawlings for who he is. They have been in denial for a long time, but like magic, the scales are off. Do you believe you own the Party? Think again, it is made up of people with their own will, you own nobody. Madam, did you say you are standing because people having been calling and urging you to? The same excuse your husband used in 1992? Beware, they will reject you and make the NPP's rejection of Alan Kyeremanteng pale before your big humiliation. For the first time, a Rawlings will face an election without the advantage of incumbency and you don't do that with flimsy excuses. They may end up with a very useful political lesson for posterity- intolerance and excessive self aggrandizement kills a legacy.

Since Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings fail to recognize these signs, one can only encourage them to put their popularity to the test, especially if you want to be their friends. I certainly want to win the friendship of the prestigious former first family, so I say Go Nana, Go Nana, Go Nana…..


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Columnist: Ogyakromian