Lest we forget 6th November 2008 President Jerry John Rawlings’ abhorrence for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) continues unabated, as he launched insults on the party’s presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, right in front of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene, at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi yesterday.
Virtually displaying absolute disrespect for the NPP leader and tradition, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) founder recklessly referred to Nana Akufo-Addo as a ‘short man’, to the chagrin of the people present, most of whom were chiefs. Mr. Rawlings caused the stir whilst urging the electorate to critically access the eight presidential aspirants vying for the highest seat of the land before making a choice. He said: “Whether Prof. Mills or that short man, what is his name, Nana Akufo-Addo, the electorate should watch against politicians who fabricate deceit and lies and rather vote for the one who is imbibed with integrity to lead the country”.
The NDC founder was addressing a mini durbar of Ashanti chiefs including the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Immediately he threw the bombshell, some of the chiefs present who seemed uncomfortable with the statement, were seen murmuring, perhaps in protest of the unguided utterances made by the former President. Curiously, Mr Rawlings’ lackey, Daniel Ohene Agyekum who had been his right-hand man, pulled a fast one on his boss as he stayed out of the Manhyia ceremony. A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Ohene Agyekum stunned the whole nation when he, in the full glare of the powerful lenses of the media, took a bottle of schnapps, some eggs and other materials to invoke the spirit of ‘Antoa Nyamaa’ and 30 other deities in the Ashanti region to kill some people, including media men.
Mr. Rawlings and his entourage entered the palace quietly, devoid of fanfare and merry making of NDC supporters in the city. Fuming with anger, the former President who spoke ‘broken Twi’ which was later straighten up by a staff at the palace, lamented over what he described as deception by African politicians who always managed to get away with atrocities, insisting that those things did not pertain in the Western world. “It is unfortunate that our continent’s politicians easily fabricate lies and deceit to win the votes of the electorate at the detriment of competent people who could have done the job better,” he charged. He made reference to the 2000 elections where he claimed the NPP then in opposition formulated falsehood to paint the NDC black to win the presidency.
Mr. Rawlings wished that criteria such as dedication, hard work, integrity, patriotism and good morals, used as yardstick to pick a chief in the Ghanaian traditional circles, were used by the electorate to pick the next president. Virtually seeming uncomfortable with life in opposition, the former President descended heavily on the NPP government, accusing it of rigging the 2004 elections. “Before the 2004 polls, the people upon knowing the bad deeds of the NPP government, swore to vote them out but eventually the ruling party stole the polls. “The NPP leadership in 2004 changed some of the ballot boxes in some parts of the country to redirect the original outcome of the elections,” he alleged.
Delivering an incoherent statement, which was entirely in character, Mr. Rawlings directed his anger and frustration at any person, group or institution in the country that cropped up in his mind without any provocation. A clear case in point was when he charged at the Judiciary, slamming it for inefficiency when the NDC sought justice about the supposed 2004 election rigging on the part of the NPP. The NDC founder hoped that this time around, the elections would be held fairly devoid of hitches to ensure sustenance of the peace that the country was enjoying. On NDC’s chances in the upcoming polls, he said without producing any evidence that his party was winning the elections hands down. He particularly stated that based on a warm welcome accorded him in the Ashanti region recently where he toured to campaign for the NDC, the largest opposition political party was a few days away from entering the Flag Staff House.
Mr. Rawlings was at the palace to seek Otumfuo’s blessings and good counsel before he embarked on the second round of a campaign tour of the Ashanti region, where the flagbearer, Prof Atta Mills managed to tour just 14 of the 39 constituencies in the region. The former President showered praises on the Asantehene for his good works and numerous achievements around the globe which had brought honour and prestige to Asanteman and for that matter the entire Ghanaian populace, urging him to sustain his exemplary deeds. Otumfuo Osei Tutu commended Mr. Rawlings for playing a vital role in establishing democracy in the country in 1992, and charged him to equally play an instrumental part in sustaining it, adding, “Democratic dispensation is the best form of government for the country”.
He reiterated the call on President Kufuor to collaborate with Mr. Rawlings to help deepen democratic principles in the country, promising to invite the two personalities soon to the Manhyia Palace for a meeting in that regard. On the impending polls, Otumfuo admonished the Electoral Commission (EC) against conniving with a particular political party to rig the elections, warning, “Such acts would be a recipe for rancour and chaos in the country, which we all hate”. Still on the elections, the Asante King advised the various presidential aspirants to shun insults, deceit and insinuations whilst campaigning, and rather embark on an issue-based campaign which would address the myriad of challenges facing the country such as poor road networks, lack of potable water, and insufficient hospitals among other problems.
Mr. Rawlings was accompanied to the palace by his close aide Kofi Adams, Collins Dauda, MP for Asutifi South, and Kwame Bonsu, NDC National Deputy Chairman among others. Shockingly, the regional executives of the opposition party were visibly absent, leaving room for speculations. Mr. Rawlings, after leaving the palace, was billed to address the NDC faithful in the region at a rally slated for Bantama Constituency.