Measuring Rawlings-Kufuor

Securing Democracy After Rawlings-Kufuor: A Comparative Study of Probity; Accountability; Asomdwee and The Development In Freedom


For realists, democratic values can subside where the state appears incapable of protecting its citizens. The state is the main actor and sovereignty is its trait. Max Weber defines the state as the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Within this territorial space, sovereignty, as Dunne and Schmidt put it, means that the *state has supreme authority to make and enforce laws. This is based on *unwritten contract between individuals and the state. Hobbes reasoned that we *trade our liberty in return for a guarantee of security: Once security has been established, civil society can begin.Thus, in the *absence of security, there can be no art, no culture, and no society. The first move, then, for the realist, according to Donelan, is to organize power domestically. Thus, ‘every state is fundamentally a Machtstaat’ or power state and only after power has been organized, can, in the words of Baylis & Smith, community realistically begin (1). Editors Allen and Hamnett point out that the world is *shrinking- both in time and space, and even if we *refuse to travel at all, remotest parts of our far-distant world would be brought closer to our closets by means of internet, mobile phones, fax machines, Satellite-TV channels and Jumbo-Jets (2). The issue then is: what would have been our expectations from leadership assuming the September 11 terrorist attacks on the twin-tower in New York, in the US or the July 21 subway attacks in London, had struck on our shores?


The ruling New Patriotic Party has among its slogans Development In Freedom. Just as it was wailing for power from the then ruling National Democratic Congress which also preaches Asomdwee, had some 35 defenceless women been callously murdered. The electoral victory of NPP which came with high national security expectations were sadly deflated by the stadium disaster and the broad-day light assassination of the Ya Na and his 40 kinsmen which leads have eluded Ghana. Today, we have not only armed-robbery and rumours of state-corporate improprieties in our vocabulary but also, “contract killings”. The security-conscious may be puzzling: how do we do with these idealistic concepts as contemporary leadership faces the choice of balancing individual liberty with the collective security of the entire state?


The timeless wisdom of realism, in the words of Dunne and Schmidt, most often begins a mythical tale of the idealist or utopian writers of inter-war period (1919-1939). Thus, writing in the aftermath of WWI; the ‘idealists’ a term that realists writers, retrospectively imposed on the inter-war scholars, focused much of their attention on understanding of the cause of war so as to find a remedy for its existence. Yet, the inter-war scholars’ approach, according to the realists, was flawed in a number of respects. For example, they ignored the role of power, overestimated the degree to which human beings were rational, mistakenly believed that nation-states shared common interests, and were overly passionate in their belief in the capacity of humankind to overcome the scourage of war. According to Dunne and Schmidt, the outbreak of WWII in 1939, confirmed, for realists at least, the inadequacies of the inter-war idealists’ advance to studying international and in our present inquiry, local politics (3)

So a new approach, one based on the timeless insights of Realism, rose from the ashes of what realist writers describe as discredited idealist approach. The standard account of the Great Debate is that the realists emerged victorious over idealists, and the rest of the International Relations story, per Dunne and Schmidt, is, in many respects, a footnote to Realism. From 1939 to present, leading theorists and policymakers, they argue, have continued to view the world through realist lenses. The prescriptions that realists offered were particularly well suited to the US’ rise to become the global hegemon. Realism taught America leaders to focus on interests rather than ideology, to seek peace through strength, and to recognize that great powers ((ethnic groups?)) can coexist even if they have antithetical values and beliefs? (4)

The reason is that ideological beliefs can change. This is true. Considering the fact that today, most capitalist-oriented political parties have also come to terms that rigid wealth-creation policies that ignore the plight of the vast majority of the poor, might soon see its ideology on political wilderness. The NPP School Feeding Programme and the privatisation of most public corporations by NDC, perhaps, offer some clue to this argument. Thus, ideological slavery, is now submitting to changing needs of society it serves. Indeed, Machiavelli recognized that today’s friend can quickly become tomorrow’s enemy so states should not depend on others for their own security. Yet, most governments now rely on US for their safety. What then is security? Baylis & Smith say that most writers agree that security is a ‘contested concept’. (5)

But there is a consensus that it implies freedom from threats to core values- for both individuals and groups. Yet, there is a major discrepancy about whether the main focus of our enquiry should be on ‘individual’; or ‘international’ security. According to Walter Lippmann, a nation is secure to the extent to which it is in danger of having to sacrifice core values if it wishes to avoid war, and is able, if challenged, to maintain them by victory in such a war. (6) President George W. Bush, talks of America’s values as something that motive its domestic and foreign policies. (7) Is Ghana now facing or on the verge of “class-war” that Flt-Lt. Rawlings (rtd) forewarned Limann-led Peoples National Party prior to Decemcer1981 coup?

Today, the Ghanaian appears gripped with future national security uncertainties. Like most Christian Converts of old, they argue over “Paul and Apollos”, vis-à-vis the type of political leadership required after Rawlings-Kufuor, on January 7 2009. So, we must measure Rawlings-Kufuor. But knowing that “the ballot-box is not the only route to a credible leadership”, and the mute and swift at which the judiciary barred the nationwide observance of the June 4 military Uprising, Fordjour is neither resolving the issue of why Ex-President Rawlings must be allowed to dine with ‘the rich’ on a fund raising campaign tour in the US nor the justification for President Kufuor’s trip to neighbouring Togo, where he sat in banquet with the late Dictator Nyansigbe Eyedemah, in celebrating his coup detat of 1960s.


Attempting to measure Rawlings-Kufuor might seem like shooting at a moving targets or comparing incomparable. As Holmesian fellows, we focus not on their human development indexes. Perhaps the pictures speak for it. To this end, we would not mislead the court but be guided rather, by the Holy Scriptures which teaches us that we will be measured on the same scale that we weigh others. Thus, we are condemned or defiled by our own vows, so, our guess or drive, would be honestly, nothing short of “Probity; Accountability and Development In Freedom”- something that are on the lips of our only living presidents- Rawlings- Kufuor.

We know that Rawlings bounced on our media prints and airwaves on 15 May 1979. More so, following the June 4 1979 successful coup by Captain Boakye Djan, where Flt-Lt Rawlings ascended to the Black Star Stool as the Chairman of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council. The AFRC, according to the NRC Final Report, ruled for 112 days before handing over power on 24 September 1979, to an elected government of the Peoples National Party, with Dr Limann, as President. The day was coincidentally, Kojo Boakye’s date of Birth? (8)

There are conflicting issues that the handing over date had been zeroed down ahead of time by the Osahene Djan- the AFRC strongman, whilst his “smart puppet Chairman”- the Flt-Lt Rawlings, was in Cuba. Insiders reveal that Chairman had cabled home that the agreed date must be suspended. But Boakye disobeyed this and went ahead with press conference after some media gurus threatened to withdraw support they had been offering ever since they took upon themselves to thwart the democratization process that their seniours had already struck.

In the 112 days that the AFRC reigned, the level of violence that was inflicted on both the military and the civilian population, according to the Commission, was unprecedented, and left a permanent fear and mistrust of soldiers on the part of the civilian population. The worst of it, as the report graphically imprint on our minds, came on 31 December 1981, when the Rawlings again usurped power to establish the Provisional National Defence Council (9)

In measuring the PNDC which J. J. was the Chairman, the 9-member Commission submit in its Final Report that the PNDC polarised Ghanaian society into the following groupings: “Citizens”- “the professionals”, the “relatively well-off”- and “People”- the working classes, very junior officers, and the unemployed. The “citizens”, the Commission reveals, were presumed to be corrupt, and many were put before the National Investigations Committee (NIC) and Citizens Vetting Committee (CVC) to explain how they came by their wealth. And that those soldiers positioned behind such persons undergoing this interrogation, administered slaps, beatings and military drills, under orders from civilian personnel. (10)

The “People”, the Commission reminded us, were organized into Workers’ or Peoples’ Defence Committees (WDCs/ PDCs) at the workplace and in residential communities respectively which operated “People’s Shops” at workplaces and in residential areas. Many of these cadres who received goods at controlled prices for sale in the “People’s Shops”, sold some of their allocation at kalabule prices to market women- making illegal profit. Thus, soldiers, who went to the markets for price control checks, also subjected market women, accused of selling above the controlled prices, to flogging and other acts of humiliation. (Ibid)

However, the Commission pointed out that this state of affair, had come among others, as the result of Supreme Military Council I/SMCII’?s import licence quotas on the importation of then so-called ‘essential commodities’. Not forgetting the ancient cronyism- boyism, ideological and ethnic blindness that found its way into the Security Services. For example, the military cum the police secondment to civil departments became “gold/diamond hunt” for few “eye-servants”, who got rich at the expense of the majority, paralleling the Ghanaian.


In profiling the Ghanaian, the National Reconciliation Commission writes that Ghanaians have always prided themselves of being loving- kind, hospitable, friendly, and generous and what have you. Whereas this assertion may be true, the unique experience, in the words of the Commission, has brought to the fore, the very negative attitudes of the same Ghanaian. Some of these are envy, greed, selfishness, ethnocentrisms, sycophancy, lack of sensitivity, cowardice and other vices.” These negative attributes, according to the evidence revealed to the NRC, showed that envy of others’ attainments and acquisitions, was a major trait which made people, Fordjour, not excluded, welcome what had befallen those others as their just deserts. Indeed we were unconcerned about what those we perceived as “guilty” of corruption or misuse of position of power, or whatever the new ‘crime’ that the powers that be had identified, were suffering because they had unduly benefited from the (politica?l) system. (12)

Thus, a large number of those whose goods were seized by soldiers and sold at ridiculously low prices had been reported on by neighbours, colleagues or even relations who were envious of the apparent wealth of such people. We therefore had no sympathy for those people when their businesses collapsed, neither did we have a feeling of remorse for being the ones who caused the brutalities that soldiers inflicted on them. We were satisfied that at the end of the day, the ‘wealthy’ people had been brought to our level. “This envy played out in other ways. At the official level, there were the soldiers who also seized goods at the Airport, at the harbours and in the markets for their personal use. Others took money from the sale of goods for their personal use. ” It is indicated that soldiers, including the Officer corps, carted away, in trucks and cars, a lot of valuable goods- household items, clothing materials, etc. from the Makola No.1 Market in the early hours of the morning before it was demolished.

In the mean time, the traders who had gone there to salvage some of their goods, according to the final report, were stopped by the very armed soldiers who were firing warning shots around the market. Some young men who had sneaked into the market to loot whatever they could get were also shot and killed by the soldiers. “This had been what we have done with our “freedom and people’s power,” the report said. Against this backdrop, we are tempted to describe the Ghanaian as one who could see and hear the faintest shriek afar but can be yes, regrettably, “deaf and blind” to torrential happenings around her own immediate environment.

Thus, Fordjour can criticise on every issue but given the opportunity, he might do the same if not worst. So, the Commission, which had been accused of procedural bias, was right in saying that the Ghanaian had been her own demon. So, the idea of the NRC, as promised by the then NPP opposition leader, now President J.A. Kufuor, according to Dr Nahla Valji of International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), provided the Ghanaian the first opportunity to publicly relate his/her experiences of human rights abuse, uncover the truth about the past, and sought redress following a change of government which was effected by a general election instead of the usual military coup, after decades of the country’s independence that as far as political and socio-economic stability are concerned, appear to have eluded many on our planet. So, Rawlings, too, has some credit/debit balance? (13)


Barbra Murray of the International Herald Tribune once submitted that Mr. Rawlings left Ghana with a great deal of debt. So in an interview she asked Mr Kufuor. “How do you plan on easing your economic troubles, and will you be able to maintain Ghanaians’ morale during these difficult times?” As leaders provide the vision and must indeed inspire others to catch up with their dreams if they were to succeed, the President said: “By showing the people that this is a government that understands the problem deeply and has the capability and competence to pursue policies that will turn the situation around for stability and further progress… we’ve started… We try to take some very hard and far-reaching positions, like taking the HIPC ((Heavily Indebted Poor Country)) initiative for us to seek debt relief from our development partners to enable us to… reduce poverty among the people.” (14)

The president who was then some five months in office further expected Ghana that is efficiently managed economically. “We expect Ghana to enjoy rule of law with accountable government; a society that lives in law and order; a society that will have quality education and access to health for all at affordable rates; a society that lives well within the neighbourhood of West Africa, where people can move in and out as they choose; where business would be allowed to grow in partnership with investors from all over the world (Ibid).” Like his predecessor Rawlings, Kufuor has economically, achieved much for Ghana. One may argue what did “Visionless Rawlings” who murdered among others, three fetish priests: Torgbui Akakpo Ahiaku (aka Yeye Boy), Torgbui Kpe, Sampson Daniel Quao (aka, Togbe Kwawu Akpe), an army major and three judges, do for our troubled country? (15)

Indeed for years that Rawlings did rule, many feeder/trunk roads save Kumase-Sunyani /Techiman-Nkoranza, in the Brong-Ahafo, an area once known as: “No Ghana”, most roads, true, survived under the bargains of timber contractors who degraded not only farmlands but also the environment. Yet, by the close of this regime, many of us enjoyed electricity and clean water. With the help of Sergeant Aloliga Akatapore and then Captain Courage Quashiga, Rawlings, will be remembered for various scholarship schemes he arranged abroad for both the youth and the elderly here, in Eastern European countries and Cuba. Today, we have not only the remnants of the controversial 64 Infantry Regiment- the commandos but also, hundreds of professionals, including young medical doctors, GETFUND and VAT in Ghana? Yes, critically weighed, Rawlings-Kufuor seemed light on their scales: Probity; Accountability and Zero-Tolerance for Corruption, yet, are we right to say they are visionless? The analogy here is: does Ghanaian politics not smack victims-victors’ struggle?

Inspired by Barbra Murray, perhaps we may also be curious about the state of our national security, the rule of law and yes, what is meant by the so-called “asomdwee and the development in freedom” vis-à-vis future leadership, as the eras of Rawlings-Kufuor come to a close, amid “contract killing?s” on our streets, homes, at drinking bars and floating cocaine on our waters and ports. As realists, we are glued not to history but guided by it. So, we reveal that the lurking temptation of the Ghanaian to establish island of empires to influence/secure individual/collective future interest and lack of mutual acknowledgement, had been our doom.


Confronting 21st century white-collar crimes that have driven many industries and financial institutions beyond their graves requires not just “political mildness” but rather leadership that commands respect and fear among peers and foes and indeed where leaders, are seen as trustees of the state, rather than astute bidders. And where ‘security’ after Rawlings-Kufuor, as Booth and Wheeler point out, is not deprived of other groups, but is conceived as a process of emancipation. For, what profits a Man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

First published at Ghanaweb, on 20 October 2007


Written by

Gina is the Director of Health and Publisher, JusticeGhana Group.

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