Monday, 25 August 2008

Rawlings’ charm still alive

Opposition NDC founder and former president, Jerry Rawlings has proven critics both within and outside his party wrong with his successful outing in sections of the Brong Ahafo Region to campaign for his party’s presidential candidate.

With his aides insisting that it is the deliberate distortion of his messages by his opponents that is the problem and not the man Jerry Rawlings, the former military strongman’s drive through the region has been hugely successful, confirming his reputation as the single most charismatic, loved, hated and crowd pulling politician of our time.

So far, the NDC’s opponents are yet to come out with any propaganda against the 3-prong campaign approach that is unleashing the former president into the field, spreading the NDC’s messages and campaigning for Professor J. E. A. Mills.

NDC insiders who have been against the former president joining the campaign for fear of him negating the Mills campaign, have also been cowed into submission and have so far no reason to question the party’s 3-prong approach.

Mr. Rawlings has been on the quiet for sometime, ever since his last press engagement following the incarceration of long time pal, Tsatsu Tsikata, at which he also warned members of the NDC not to relax in their campaign efforts. His comments came at the time the ruling NPP was seriously making itself visible in every corner of the country.

He however came under heavy criticism from critics including some NDC officials who went to the extent of dissociating the party from his criticism. His loyalists however insisted that the issues raised by the former president including issues of the rule of law, human rights and his analysis of some promises made by the NPP’s presidential candidate were important campaign issues.

Insisting that Jerry Rawlings cannot be wished out of the NDC’s activities and completely sidelined in the party’s quest to regain power, Rawlings’ followers and a larger NDC group argue that it is the ruling NPP that deliberately twists his pronouncements because they respect and recognise his potential in the politics of Ghana. It is also said that some persons within the NDC also hold the view that he'll not bring Professor Mills and good results.

On his Brong Ahafo tour, Jerry Rawlings drew out large numbers of people with spontaneous rallies along the road at which he campaigns for the people to return the NDC to office. According to him, Ghana will be better off under Professor Mills, warning that Ghanaians cannot continue to suffer under the NPP.

Addressing what is described as a mammoth rally at Dormaa Ahenkro, Rawlings questioned why the Electoral Commission, which has a history of conducting free and fair elections in 1996 and 2000, suddenly lost track of its efficiency.

On security, he cautioned the police and military to appreciate that their uniform requires them to be fair and just to all citizens irrespective of their political inclinations.

“You should stop obeying unlawful orders from government appointees. To the men and women who have kept the dignity of the service, ayekoo,” he said.

“The former president’s visit which was a fact finding one following the recent limited voter registration exercise turned into a full pronged political campaign. There were huge rallies in every community he visited with supporters always caught in frenzy” a statement released by his spokesperson said. Constituencies visited during the tour included Asunafo South, Asutifi North, Dormaa East, Dormaa West, Sunyani and Berekum. In Sankore in the Asunafo South constituency the town came to standstill when the former President and his delegation arrived. At Dormaa Ahenkro even though the delegation arrived late the townsfolk waited in their numbers patiently.

When the delegation finally arrived at 6.30pm the town went agog with chants of “JJ, JJ come and save us”.

Rawlings paid courtesy calls on chiefs at Sankore, Gambia No. 2, Dormaa Ahenkro and Sunyani. He also paid courtesy calls on the Zongo chiefs at Berekum as well as the chief imam and his elders as well as the light industrial area.

He also debunked assertions that he’s angry with Professor Mills for choosing John Mahama as his running mate, noting that the pair is the best to push forward the country’s fortunes.

NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia in a response to these claims said their opponents are trying hard to make up problems and find their own solutions.

“If they think they can create an imaginary problem and redirect our efforts at solving an imaginary problem, we are not going to fall for that at all”.

He said the party’s inclusion of Mr. Rawlings is a headache for the ruling NPP and its allies who are desperately ‘cooking’ up negative stories hoping that it would scatter plans to put him on the election platform alongside Professor Mills and John Mahama.

Speaking on Citi FM, Mr. Asiedu Nketia said the former president is a “valuable asset in the campaign” and the party will continue to tap into his experience no matter what critics say.

By Frank ADDO

No comments: