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Feature Article of Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Columnist: Egyiri, Kojo

Whither The 31st December Revolution And Rawlings?

By Kojo Egyiri

All too soon, we have come the end of the year 2012 and with it, the celebration of the 1981 31st December revolution which ushered in the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) and its leader, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.

The day saw the overthrow of the Third Republic, the suspension of the country’s constitution and the dismissing of President Hilla Limann and his Peoples National Party (PNP). The PNDC dissolved parliament and with the people’s human rights curtailed, came atrocities committed by the military, in the name of the Revolution.

The PNDC imposed curfews and compelled people all over the country to obeyed, even in remotest villages the people went to bed at 6.00 pm.

For the first time in the country’s judicial history, tribunals were introduced and which tried many innocent people, some of who were sent to prison for having in their shops goods meant for sale to members of the public.
Uneasiness could be seen everywhere with the introduction of People’s Defence Committees (PDC) and workers Defence Committees (WDC), whose leaders used their new found positions to terrorise their superiors and with their action, also came the breakdown of discipline within the society, especially among workers in the Public service and private enterprises just because of the new found power the Revolution gave them.
Even though some Ghanaian Journalists accused the Chairman of the PNDC of extra-judicial killings, one event that climaxed the PNDC era was the murder of three Judges and an Army officer and the abuse of the human rights of millions of Ghanaians all in the name of Revolution.

One thing that through all the changing scenes of the country’s political life, no one could take away from the Ghanaian people is their determination to survive all the so-called Revolutions that continued to beset the country since 1966 when the first successful military coup overthrew President Kwame Nkrumah and his CPP.

Not even the bush fires that raged across the country coming with it the “Rawlings chain”, because the hunger that followed could break the will of Ghanaians.

Soon, the Chairman of the PNDC and his cabinet started seeing the writings on the wall and had to start seeking international assistance which came with the insistence on the military transferring power to civilians.
With lots of reluctance, the PNDC kick started the process of returning the country to a civilian administration by setting up the constituent Assembly which eventually drew up the 1992 constitution and which was approved by the people of Ghana amidst jubilation, knowing that the military and for that matter J. J. Rawlings was on his way out.
Many were those who thought they were not going to see Rawlings anymore with the transfer of power to civilians but how disappointed they were when Jerry Rawlings accepted to lead one of the numerous political parties that emerged with the lifting of the ban on political parties.
And so it happened Jerry Rawlings became the leader and presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which eventually won the 1992 elections and for another eight years, reluctantly, a section of the Ghanaian populace had to put up with the man they so much hated.
This accounted for the jubilation that greeted the results of the 2001 elections which saw the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) John Agyekum Kufuor, elected President.
Eventually, reluctantly, kicking and screaming, Rawlings made his exit from the Ghanaian political scene but because habits, once acquired is very difficult to stop, Rawlings since 2001 has refused to leave the political radar and has been tormenting his successors.
One event that has dented the Rawlings image and is threatening to erode all his achievements is the death of His Excellency, President John Evans Atta Mills, who many Ghanaians believe was hounded to death by Rawlings, who wanted his wife, Nana Konadu Rawlings to lead the NDC.
It is no wonder that at a time like this, when Rawlings is celebrating the 31st December revolution and the party born out of his revolution is in power, he should be treated as an outsider, calling him a barking dog.
Rawlings today is a stranger in the party he claim he is the founder. These days when he opens his mouth, members of the party laugh in derision and tell him to go to hell.
It is for this reason that many are questioning the relevance of the observance of this day, 31st December Revolutionary Day, more especially when it seems obvious that the current administration may not identify with the Day and when that happens, whither would Rawlings and his legacy be? – e-mail thenewpalaverpalaver@yahoo.com

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