Tag: Ghana Armed Forces


Is Rawlings really the founder of the NDC?

Former president Jerry John Rawlings has never been happy with the performance of the NDC presidents that came after him, namely Atta-Mills and John Mahama as regards to probity and accountability. He put excessive pressure on the two former presidents and accused them of incompetence. His criticisms drew him apart from the presidency. Those who benefitted from the corrupt and administration of the two presidents saw Rawlings as an enemy. Most of the time, the party held national and executive meetings and conferences without inviting Rawlings. Sadly enough, such attitudes of hatred by the top brass of the NDC have compelled Rawlings to do what he is doing. Observers from other parties felt that it was unfortunate to treat the founder of the party this way. But do his party members consider him as a founder?

Rawlings is generally considered as the founder of the NDC but, now and then, there are voices which challenge this view. A chief proponent of this view has been Obed Asamoah, a long-time member of Rawlings’ governments in their military and civilian incarnations. In an exclusive interview with Emera Appawu of Joy News, Obed Asamoah explained that when it was time to file the registration of the NDC, Rawlings was still in the Ghana Armed Forces so he could not have represented any district as a founding father. However, Dr Obed Asamoah explained that after the party had been set, a clause was fixed in the party’s constitution to recognize the contribution of Rawlings to the ideals upon which the party was founded.

Obed Asamoah made this position even clearer in his memoirs: The Political History of Ghana

Obed Asamoah

(1950-2013) – The Experience of a Non-Conformist published in 2014, where he stated that the idea of founding the NDC was a collective one taken by a group to which Rawlings was not part of. The group saw Rawlings as the best person to lead the new party and approached him with the idea. Rawlings accepted. It is, therefore, clear that the initiative of forming the party did not come from Rawlings. This can be compared with the formation of the CPP where the idea for the party germinated in the mind of Kwame Nkrumah who brought it into being, provided it with much of its ideological direction, singularly led it from its beginnings through all its glorious years and eventual demise. Today the CPP has been struggling without its revered founder. The NDC, on the other hand, has won elections even without Rawlings leading it.

The issue of who founded what can be a tricky one as we are seeing in the current debate about who founded Ghana. Even though Rawlings did not himself initiate the idea of forming the NDC from the remnants of the PNDC, he was the very personification of the party, at least in the initial stages. The party was built around him. It is doubtful if the party could have won the first two elections in the Fourth Republic without Rawlings leading it. That is why people generally regard him as the founder.

The same argument can be tweaked to apply to the foundation of Ghana. Even though the Gold Coast may have been in existence before Nkrumah burst on the political scene in the colony, the fact of our independence became personified in him. He was the very face of our independence and, by extension, the new nation. That is why people associate the founding of the nation with him. It does not mean they think there were no others in the independence struggle. Nkrumah’s contributions were unique and it is easier for people to connect with an individual and accord him a symbolic status than with an amorphous group of persons each of whose contributions cannot be accurately gauged.

Valerie Sawyer

And so Rawlings is likely to continue being regarded as the founder of the NDC in the popular mind, no matter what Obed Asamoah says. The question then becomes: is Rawlings trying to destroy what he created? It can be said that all of Rawlings’ bad-mouthing of his own party shows him in character. The pointing out of the ills of our society and the condemnation of others have been Rawlings’ trademarks as a public person since his first coup day speech on radio. The party and Ghanaians, generally, have endured his antics. Now and then, they try to give it back to him. Now, it seems a section of the party hierarchy can take it no longer. Valerie Sawyer’s outburst a few weeks ago is symptomatic of this feeling. Obed Asamoah quickly came to Sawyerr’s defence while others attacked her. Alhaji Bature has gone so far as to suggest that Rawlings should be sacked from his own party.

What particularly irks a section of the party hierarchy is what they think is his dancing with the ruling party when he gives Akufo-Addo a clean bill of health when it comes to corruption, and threatening that his own party would not regain power even in 2020 unless it changes its ways. They point out that the NPP itself, under the Kufuor government, was very corrupt and Akufo-Addo was part of that government and that Rawlings’ own life is not beyond reproach. His wife has become rich from deals that are tainted with corruption, all his children received higher education abroad at great expense, he lives a lifestyle far above that of the ordinary Ghanaian who he claims to be fighting for and he received what is clearly bribe money from Abacha. He has also exhibited the greed that is characteristic of all African leaders and the political elite: becoming rich through the acquisition of political power. Rawlings has been calling on his party to return to its founding principles but he may not agree that the erosion of those principles started under his watch.

Of late there is the belief that he is losing his influence over the party and therefore his deliberate scheme of blame and vituperations are meant to destroy the NDC party.

The Rawlings family felt very much disturbed and frustrated by the kind of treatment meted out to them

Nana Konadu Agyemang

by the NDC top hierarchy. Mrs Rawlings took a bold step to move out of NDC and through her admirers a new platform called Friends of Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings (FONKAR) was created. She later did everything possible to form a new party. Even though she craftily chose a party name whose letters (NDP) were intended to confuse the illiterate voter because it sounded midway between NDC and NPP when they are pronounced or seen. It is believed that her intention of forming the party was not to win but to split the NDC votes. Did she succeed?

It is difficult to predict what the intentions of Rawlings are. Does he intend to obliterate the name of the party with which he has been associated from the political map of Ghana, or is he just trying to make himself still relevant in Ghanaian politics? What he really intends to do lies within the womb of time.

By Stephen Atta Owusu

Melcom tragedy – will we learn?

Out of tragedy must come hope that lessons will be learned

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Upon hearing of the collapse of the Melcom building in Achimota on the morning of Wednesday 7 November 2012, I immediately rushed to call my mother – she owns a shop close to the six storey building and often frequents the area around it with other members of my family. So I was glad to hear that she and my extended family were okay and had not been caught up in the collapse. However many others were not so lucky; so far 18 people have been confirmed dead in the tragedy that has shocked Ghana.

Not surprisingly, the inquest has already begun with a section of the public pointing the finger of blame at the Melcom Group. Negligence is a word that has been used by many people who say the group must be held accountable for the collapse of a building that is not even a year old. The Chairman, Directors, Management and Staff of Melcom Group of Companies themselves have deeply expressed regret about the tragic incident.

What I was comforted by was that those in authority refused to play the blame game in the way the public did/are doing. Whilst vowing to make anybody responsible accountable, President Mahama also pledged full support to various rescue/disaster agencies to ensure they could do their job in the aftermath.

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On a slightly negative note the disaster exposed Ghana’s lack of preparedness for major disaster of this magnitude. For almost 24 hours after the disaster struck, the rescue team that stormed the disaster scene was almost left clueless about how to locate and extract the trapped victims in the rubbles. Heavy earth-moving equipment was moved to the scene and the heavy slabs that formed the floors of the collapsed building were moved but many argue this took too long. On the plus side 69 people are reported to have been pulled from the wreckage of the building since it collapsed. However a rescue team from Israel has had to be drafted in to help with the search & rescue effort as many people are still missing and feared dead. This says as much about Ghana’s good international contacts as it does about their lack of internal solutions.

Ghana has of course experienced disasters before from earth tremors to flooding, but most of them pale in comparison to the Melcom disaster.  The only tragedy of recent times that surpasses this one is the May 9, 2001 stadium disaster that killed over 100 sports fans. After which time lessons in stadium security were learned which enabled Ghana to build more stadia and host the CAN 2008 football tournament seven years later.

One can only hope similar lessons are learned from the Melcom building collapse. The Melcolm group, Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana National Fire Service, Ghana Police, National Ambulance Service, Ghana Red Cross and other Private Construction companies will all need to work together to try and ensure that this type of incident is avoided. However if such an incident is to happen we can only hope that many lessons have been learned to ensure loss of life is kept to a minimum.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families who have suffered the loss of a loved one as a result of the tragedy.

Ben JK Anim-Antwi (@Kwesitheauthor)