Two of Jerry John Rawlings’ closest aides during his time in office, Nana Ato Dadzie and Kwamina Ahwoi, say they did not know about his acceptance of some $2 million from the late Nigerian President, Sani Abacha, contrary to the ex-leader’s claim they knew about it. The duo have also expressed their displeasure about assertions attributed to Mr. Rawlings about their alleged commentary of his receipt of the money from the late Nigerian leader.
Ex-president Rawlings admitted in an interview with Nigeria’s Guardian Newspaper that he had received the money from Nigeria’s leader at the time, although he denied the amount was five million dollars as alleged initially.
He also suggested in the same interview that his two former appointees, Nana Ato Dadzie and Kwamina Ahwoi, also knew about the money, but instead chose to write about it when they fell out with him and got “poisonous”
He is quoted as having said in the interview:
“My colleagues knew about it I didn’t know why I should be keeping these things secret. Moreover, I didn’t have any personal account to be putting these things into anyway.
Besides we needed to use them for some national needs. But lo and behold. Many years down the line when I fell out with some of my colleagues and they decided to get poisonous, two of them wrote a book on district assembly elections and the decentralization programme, and inserted in somewhere when it was absolutely not necessary, something about Gwarzo’s supposed $5 million just to poison my name I just felt sad that Gwarzo should do this”
Nana Ato Dadzie, who served as a former Chief of Staff under the Rawlings regime and Kwamena Ahwoi, who served as Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, denied any knowledge about the money given to Rawlings by Abacha They also denied that Professor Ahwoi had commented on the matter in his book , ‘Local Government and Decentralization in Ghana’.
In a joint statement released on Monday July 18, the pair said: “We are not certain that this is a correct attribution to President Rawlings but if it is, then we feel terribly upset about it because the facts are to the contrary. First of all, we did not know about the payment of any such money.
Secondly, there is nothing in the book, ‘Local Government and Decentralization in Ghana’, which was solely authored by Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, about any Gwarzo money” They however admitted that, they had jointly written a piece about “an alleged Gwarzo money” in a book titled “Justice Daniel Francis Annan – In the Service of Democracy’, an Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) Publication published in 2010 by Sub-Saharan Publishers, P. O. Box 358, Legon-Accra.
The extract from the book “Managing a Robust Multiparty Parliament” “The Gwarzo Affair”, (pages 121-122) reads:
“Nigerian newspaper published an unsubstantiated story that President Rawlings had received US$5 million from the Nigerian intelligence capo, Chief Gwarzo, in support of his Presidential campaign for the 1996 elections.
The NPP Parliamentary opposition latched on to the story and insisted on forcing a debate on the issue. On the day that the motion was to be moved, tensions were very high in the House. The NDC was aware that there was nothing to the story and suspected that the NPP was also aware.
However, the NDC Parliamentary caucus was apprehensive that the NPP would use the occasion to throw mud at President Rawlings and to embarrass the NDC and was determined to prevent it at all costs.
The NDC therefore marshaled all its big guns; and virtually every NDC Minister of State, Cabinet and non-Cabinet, MPs and non-MPs and Deputy Ministers, were present in the House. The party had plotted a strategy that turned out to be very effective.
It had assigned its front line Ministers to the front bench of the NPP and the strategy was to respond, to heckle, to cajole, to admonish and to literally make it impossible for the NPP MPs to be heard on the issue.
The NDC had accurately predicted he reaction of the NPP. The latter got angrier and angrier and on one occasion, they protested that Speaker Justice Annan was deliberately refusing to “catch the eye” of their members who wanted to speak Things came to a head when they alleged that an NDC MP had thrown a punch at an NPP MP.
Justice Annan ruled that even if it was true, it must have happened on his blind side because he did not see it. And that was it. Led by their leader, Honourable J. H. Mensah, the NPP Minority walked out of the House and boycotted the rest of the day’s proceedings and that was the last that was heard in Parliament of “the Gwarzo affair” Nana Ato Dadzie and Kwamena Ahwoi stated that, they appreciate their time working under Rawlings and would never intentionally seek to discredit him in any way.
“We wish to state that, the two of us worked very closely with President Rawlings. We were two of his closest confidantes. The opportunity he gave us to serve the nation was a very rare one indeed which we will forever cherish.
We will be the last persons to write or say anything that will detract from the quality of the service that we performed for him and the state or that will even remotely hint at disloyalty to him.” Rawlings demonstrates ‘honesty’ Seasoned journalist, Paul Adom-Otchere, has said that former President, Jerry John Rawlings’ admission that he took only two million dollars while still in office from then president of Nigeria, Sani Abacha, is a demonstration of his increasing commitment to honesty, and the well-being of the country.
While admitting that the revelation came as a shock to him, he stated that it was a sign of the former president’s evolution as a person, since handing over power in 2001. “It is completely shocking that Mr. Rawlings must have to admit this at this stage.
It also helps us to understand the kind of personality that Rawlings has become. It helps us understand that after leaving office nearly sixteen years ago, Rawlings has changed and his instincts towards nation-building and towards truth and honesty and towards a great future for Ghana have completely increased,” Paul Adom-Otchere said.
Go and sin no more Former Member of Parliament for New Juabeng North, Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, believes former President Jerry John Rawlings’ admission that he accepted $2 million from former Nigerian Head of State, Sani Abacha, after nearly 18 years of denial, should warrant forgiveness from Ghanaians.
“He has confessed it and I think we should be magnanimous enough to say let bygones be bygones, but I think from him, we should learn lessons that the President should desist from taking gifts from persons or money and everything like that,” he stated on Eyewitness News