Former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings has responded to claims by Prof. Ahwoi in his controversial book “Working with Rawlings” that he [Rawlings] never had a plan, strategy on how to materially develop Ghana.
Prof Kwamena Ahwoi from his personal assessment of Jerry John Rawling during the 19 years they worked together said the latter did not appear deep ‘philosophically and ideologically.’
In his book “working with Rawlings” Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi said “In my encounters with him at PNDC meetings and at cabinet meetings, I could tell that he did not understand many of the technical issues that used to be debated. Often times, he would feign disinterest and be looking through the window or playing with his toy planes”.
But reacting to claims that he did not have a plan, strategy on how to materially develop Ghana, the former President described such claims as falsehood and an attempt to smear his person.
He indicated that as a leader, he didn’t want to impose his ideas on his people and therefore brought in patriots who he wanted to own the vision for the country with to ensure that the country develops in the right direction.
Rawlings said as a pilot who had been to several rural areas across the country, he had formed perceptions that guided his thinking and gave him a sense of direction and vision for Ghana considering the wide difference between the Rural and Urban centers in terms of developmental projects and the standard of living was.
The former President listed a number of projects undertaken in the country under his watch in bridging the gap in terms of development in the country.
READ THE FORMER PRESIDENT’s STATEMENT HERE
RAWLINGS: HIS VISION AND LEGACY
President Rawlings has always stated publicly and unapologetically that throughout his tenure, he served his nation with a team comprised of various experts with different political affiliations each of whom patriotically contributed their talent and intellect to the cause.
As a young Air Force officer (in his twenties) who used to fly across the country, former President Rawlings came face-to-face with some stark realities across the country. He and his pilot colleagues, would sometimes go to local markets in places like Yendi to purchase some local produce. He noticed old men selling beans, sorghum etc. and placed close to their legs were containers with a brown looking fluid. He was shocked to the core when on enquiry, he would be informed that the dirty looking fluid was their drinking water. He felt pained knowing that folks in the urban areas were so privileged that they were able to flush their toilets with clean water from the taps while those in the rural areas drank Guinea-worm infested water. Accept it or not, this was our reality as a nation. How could these experiences not have sparked a vision or a philosophical outlook in this young pilot’s head?
Even more disturbing was the fact that large patches of Ghana were without lights when he flew at night. His perspective began to take a more serious tone as he recognized the reality on the ground and the fact that without electricity and water, the populace would be living an unhappy and distressing sub-standard existence, while urban dwellers remained out of touch with the reality on the other side of the country. Years later, President Rawlings’ priority naturally, was the provision of potable water for the wider populace and the distribution of electricity to the entire country. A vision he can proudly state he largely saw to fruition.
The next step in his vision for development was the construction and equipping of regional hospitals across the entire country. Indeed, in the early days (1980s) there was a time when Dr. Joe Abbey informed Flt. Lt. Rawlings that drugs for Government-run hospitals could not last for a week. A most shocking situation! At the time, historical records will clearly show that support from Eastern bloc countries who could be considered natural allies was not forthcoming owing to their own internal challenges. With the urgent need to complement much-needed social development projects, the PNDC Government had no option but to go West to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, where we as a Government and a nation made history by defining our financial needs, terms and method of implementation to those institutions; leading to a complete overhaul in the way the IMF and World Bank approached project funding and implementation globally.
President Rawlings has always seen his vision and legacy as a collective one that he hopes each of the dedicated patriots also recognizes as their own legacies as well. It is said, that it is an effective leader that consults with and participates in the backbreaking work of development, but most importantly trusts in the craft, talent and skills of his team to deliver on his and their collective vision. President Rawlings no doubt had a grand vision for Ghana, and in tribute to the dedicated patriots who worked with him to realise this vision, as far as practicable, a few of these achievements are set-out hereunder:
• Institution of a local government structure, a clear empowering process that has successively been embraced by all Ghanaians irrespective of political affiliation; And credit must go to patriots such Dr. Ayirebi Acquah and Madam Joyce Aryee and several others who played a significant role in implementing the policy.
• The Rural Electrification Project that ensured that most parts of Ghana were provided with electricity, recognizing the benefits that provision will add to socio-economic development;
• Prior to the era of Rawlings, travelling from Southern Ghana to Northern Ghana took days. After major roads were constructed to link most parts of the Northern Regions to the South half of Ghana, we became one unified country not just in name but also accessibility.
• Championing of women’s development and affirmative action. The results are there for all to see. Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and the 31st December Women’s movement, were instrumental in agricultural the country’s agricultural development, trade and the development of many of Ghana’s health facilities.
• With food security a priority for Rawlings, agricultural policies were initiated that resulted in the recognition of Ghana’s food production growth of 148 percent for the period 1995-1997 as “the third highest achievement in the record after Jordan (157%) and China (156%)” in the World Bank’s 1999-2000 Development Report.
• The introduction of sustainable economic policies that led to:
- Increased productivity in export produce like cocoa and gold;
- The establishment of the National Development Planning
- The revival of the Ghana Export Promotion Council, all institutions which have survived to date.
• There were massive developments in the health sector including:
- The establishment of the Cardiothoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital
- The establishment of the Korle Bu Radiotherapy Centre
- The wooing of eminent personalities such as Professor Frimpong Boateng to return to Ghana to serve their country.
- The Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns Centre was also constructed under President Rawlings’ watch.
Source: MyNewsGh.com/Ayeh Offei-Akoto/2020