By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Monday, May 16, 2016
Folks, the frosty relationship between Ghana’s living two former Presidents (Rawlings and Kufuor) has thickened over the years, creating the nasty impression that they are either at each other’s throat for whatever reasons best known to them or that they are just a very bad example of old men who cannot live and let live. Their wives may have their own kind of mutual antipathy, but I admire the 80-year-old Mrs. Theresa Kufuor for all that she has portrayed about herself in and out of the limelight as a former First Lady. Nana Konadu is a classic example of a she who must not be feared but regarded as a pesky bug to be squashed!!
The frostiness doesn’t end with Rawlings and Kufuor. Another old man to be easily roped into this love-to-hate triangle is Akufo-Addo who, until he completely flipped over to worm his way into the Rawlings’ favour in a desperate search for political capital for Elections 2012 and 2016, had come across as a dreadful stink-bug to the Rawlingses. Why didn’t he snuggle to the Rawlingses for Election 2008? Because, then, the signs of what pitted him against the Rawlingses were too scary.
As the relationship between the Rawlingses and Akufo thaws, it raises eyebrows and intriguing questions for comment: Having put Kufuor and Akufo-Addo in the same boat to rock, why is it now possible for the Rawlings and Akufo-Addo to mend fences while not doing so with Kufuor? What is it about Akufo-Addo that has earned the Rawlingses’ respect, favour, and blessing but not for Kufuor? Why will the Rawlingses forgive Akufo-Addo for whatever “harm” caused them but not do so Kufuor? And what do the Rawlings hope to gain from an Akufo-Addo as President of Ghana (which God has already forbidden, anyway) that they couldn’t get under Kufuor, granted that Akufo-Addo has been fingered as one of the main architects of the woes suffered by the Rawlingses when Kufuor was in power?
We intend to explore these questions and many unasked ones with the view to establishing that there is much to learn from happenings to shape our national discourse on how Ghanaian politicians do things to complicate problems and, by so doing, undermine their own integrity as they turn politics into a gold mine to exploit.
We begin with the nastiness characterizing the bad-blood relationship between Rawlings and Kufuor. We will only highlight significant moments to shed light on issues. The foundation for the nastiness seemed to have been laid in 1982 when Kufuor served under Rawlings in the Local Government Ministry and jumped ship following the abduction and murder of the three High Court judges and retired Army Major Sam Acquah. No need to explain this part because it was one of the major political tools used by Kufuor to seek power, undermining Rawlings as such. You think Rawlings will forgive him for it?
When Kufuor won power, his refusal to accommodate Rawlings’ interests solidified Rawlings’ chagrin. We know how Rawlings sought to impose on Kufuor, managing to get a meeting convened for both by a prominent Ghanaian, at which Rawlings sought to dictate to Kufuor on how to manage the affairs of state. So i9ncensed was Kufuor that when Rawlings caused a second meeting to be held for similar purposes, he shunned it. He stood his grounds and moved on, leaving Rawlings slackjawed in the lurch. He couldn’t bring himself to accept the spurning.
Many others. Kufuor’s claim that Rawlings had desecrated the Osu Castle and the manouevres by his friends in the clergy to exorcise those evil forces before he could reside there worsened matters. (Over all, we can’t accept that refusal of Kufuor to reside at the Castle for the reasons given. It was just an adroit means he used to have his private residence in the Accra Airport Area rehabilitated by the state. Stealing by false pretences!!).
Kufuor’s wild claim at Offinso that Rawlings was plotting a coup against him really angered Rawlings, clearly because it was just one of the mudslinging moments to give him a bad name and prepare him for hanging. Constructing Rawlings as “Sasabonsam”, Kufuor hit hard at Rawlings, writing him off as “patapaa” and moving ahead to divest him of the protocol services due him. As a former head of state, Rawlings had to carry his own luggage, join the queue of ordinary travelers by air and be searched as such. We can recall some moments when Rawlings went through such procedures at the Heathrow Airport and was roundly taunted in public discourse by his political opponents in the NPP. That ignominy suffered by him irked him beyond measure.
Talk about Kufuor’s establishment of the National Reconciliation Commission and the perception that it was targeted at Rawlings and you can see why Rawlings won’t ever be willing to forgive Kufuor. In effect, he sees Kufuor as an ox to be gored. How to do so is his worry.
The prosecution of Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings and the fact that Rawlings would always be in court during proceedings really topped up the Rawlingses disdain for Kufuor. Not even Kufuor’s ill-considered intervention to free Nana Konadu from the claws of justice could change the situation.
There are many other instances, but to cut everything short, we want to say that what triggered the frosty relationship is so thick as to make it difficult for both Kufuor and Rawlings to bury the hatchet. Not even the intervention of the Asantehene or other prominent personalities could solve the problem. In the next part, we will examine how Rawlings reacted to what came from Kufuor’s stable to suggest that the frostiness is well steeped in a complex network of invidious and insidious politics).
I shall return…
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