FLASHBACK! John Agyekum Kufuor in a warm handshake with JJ Rawlings
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has said history will give the late Flt Lt. President Jerry John Rawlings ‘a balanced’ place in the records of the country.
According to Mr. Kufuor who succeeded Mr. Rawlings on January 7, 2001 after a historic election and subsequent successful transfer of power, said although he and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) founder did not agree on “many matters of state,” he felt that the late President “was trying to do the best he knew and could under his peculiar circumstances.”
“My wife, Theresa, and I, are deeply saddened by the passing of former President Jerry John Rawlings, whose untimely death reported yesterday came as a thunderbolt to us and our children,” Mr. Kufuor said in a statement yesterday.
“President Rawlings was the longest-serving head of state since our nation’s independence in 1957. When the time came for him to step down as President on January 7, 2001, he obliged and obviously tried to contain whatever reservations about me and my government that succeeded him and his government within the bounds of the national constitution of 1992.
“In this regard, whatever doubts persisted about his commitment to democratic rule, became attenuated and earned him a legacy of contributing to the sustenance of democratic governance of our country till his demise,” he noted.
The statement continued, “History would give him a balanced place in the annals of our nation.
“We are left now to mourn him and also express our heartfelt condolences to his widow, Mrs. Nana Konadu Agemang-Rawlings, their children and the larger family.”
7-Day National Mourning
The country has been thrown into a state of mourning since the sudden passing of Mr. Rawlings with President Akufo-Addo declaring seven days of national mourning and all flags flying at half-mast.
The flag bearer of the NDC, ex-President John Dramani Mahama, who is staging a comeback, raised eyebrows yesterday when he issued a statement urging the party’s rank and file to uphold the principles that their founder (Mr. Rawlings) stood for, which is probity and accountability.
NDC Vs Rawlings
Ironically, the NDC leadership, including Mr. Mahama, ‘alienated’ their founder in their activities and did not give him the respect he deserved.
The founder’s wife, Mrs. Rawlings, even left the party to form her own and the founder was always complaining that the current crop of NDC leadership had ‘monetized’ the party, and he was not going to endorse their “bad ways.”
Mr. Mahama had posted on social media that “Now, more than ever, we have a sacred duty to uphold and defend the values of the Fourth Republic that President Rawlings held so dear—peace, democracy, probity and accountability, respect for human rights, freedom of the press, tolerance and inclusion.”
Mr. Mahama added that “in doing this, we honour the man who brought us the gift of a free and democratic society.”
After releasing the statement, the NDC flag bearer was accused by his opponents of taking advantage of the founder’s death to boost his campaign.
His words were met with scorn as scores of social media users, particularly Facebook, called out what they saw as clear case of ‘hypocrisy’ and an attempt to use Mr. Rawlings’ death to gain sympathy ahead of the December 7, 2020 general election.
One user wrote, “Probity and accountability were totally absent from the previous administration, other than that you wouldn’t have lost that election (referring to 2016).”
Highlighting this, one user wrote, “You (Mahama) see your double standards? You never upheld any of his values as a President. You guys referred to him as a barking dog.
“You (Mahama) did not honour him (Rawlings) when he was alive. You did not listen to him,” another user said while others drew attention to the double standard of the NDC and its presidential candidate on Mr. Rawlings and his principles.
They asked former President Mahama to stay away from playing politics with the death of the NDC founder, who was vilified and ridiculed by the party apparatchiks.
The world virtually came together to mourn the loss of the former Ghanaian leader.
Muhammadu Buhari also joined the rest of the world to express his heartfelt condolences to the government and Ghanaians in general, saying “former President Jerry Rawlings, 73, affirming that the entire African continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader.”
Former Liberian leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said she was saddened at “the passing of @officeofJJR, President Jerry Rawlings. He set the precedent for a more #democratic and stable #Ghana. #Liberia owes him a debt of gratitude for peacekeeping efforts in our civil war. My prayers go to his family at this time.”
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission said, “It is with great sadness that I learnt of the passing of former President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana. Africa has lost a stalwart of pan-Africanism and a charismatic continental statesman. My sincere condolences to his family, the people and the government of #Ghana.”
President of Tanzania, John P. Magufuli, said he was deeply saddened by the news about the passing on of the former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings.
“My condolences to Your Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo and the brotherly people of Ghana for the loss of this Great-man of Africa. May his soul rest in peace, Amen,” he posted on Twitter
President Adama Barrow of The Gambia wrote, “It is with sadness that I received news that former President Jerry Rawlings passed away. I extend my sincere #condolences to His Excellency @NAkufoAddo, the #Rawlingsfamily and the people of the Republic of #Ghana. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
President Faure E. Gnassingbe of Togo also eulogized Mr. Rawlings and said he was a great patriot and a man of action whose remarkable contribution led to democracy in Ghana.
US Embassy Ghana
The U.S. Embassy Ghana posted on Twitter that it was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former President Jerry John Rawlings this morning. Truly, a great tree has fallen. May he rest in perfect peace. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and to all of Ghana in this time of national mourning.”
The Parliament of Ghana described his death as a great loss saying “Speaker Prof. Mike Oquaye, the leadership and membership of Parliament and the Clerk to Parliament have learnt with utmost sadness, the passing of former President Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings on Thursday, 12/11/2020.”
“President Rawlings was the first President of the Fourth Republic. His contribution to our current democratic dispensation cannot be glossed over,” the Public Affairs Directorate said in a statement.
First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo also had this to say, “My dear Nana Konadu, my heartfelt condolences to you and the family, on our nation’s loss.”
The Second Lady, Samira Bawumia, wrote “I am sad to learn of the untimely death of our former President, Jerry John Rawlings. My heartfelt condolence to former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, his family and the entire country. May God grant him eternal rest. ”
The NDC running mate, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang also posted on social media, “I am truly saddened by the news of the passing of our former President and NDC founder, Jerry John Rawlings. This is a really bad day for our country and for many of us who he inspired greatly.”
“I offer my profound condolence to his family, our party and a nation in grief. May the Lord grant his soul eternal rest.”
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) also said it received with profound shock and disbelief, the tragic death of the first President of the Fourth Republic, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, which sad event occurred on Thursday, November 12, 2020, at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, where he was receiving medical attention after a short illness.
“The party accordingly conveys its deep sympathies to the bereaved family particularly his wife, the former First Lady of the Republic, Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings and children in these difficult times. Equally, the NPP commiserates with his close associates and the Ghanaian people for this incalculable loss,” a statement signed by the General Secretary, John Boadu, indicated.
By Ernest Kofi Adu