Delivering a tribute during the final funeral ceremony for the late former Ghanaian leader on Wednesday January 27 at the Black Stars Square, he said “Charismatic, energetic, fearless leader. Such were the attributes ascribed by many Ghanaians to the man, Jerry John Rawlings, the young air force officer, who announced his presence in Ghana’s politics by the abortive coup of May 15, 1979, and was sentenced to death for his part in the failed effort.
“He gave, at his trial, an important insight into his character, when he stood up, before the military tribunal, to accept sole responsibility for the attempt, and to request the NCOs, who were being tried with him, to be absolved and freed by the tribunal.
“The great events that were to define his career followed quickly after his trial, conviction and sentence. Three (3) weeks later, whilst awaiting execution of his sentence, he was dramatically freed from prison by the insurgents of what has come to be known as the June 4th Uprising, when junior officers and other ranks of the Ghana Armed Forces banded together to throw out the Supreme Military Council, and install the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), headed by Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings, thereafter ‘J.J’ to all and sundry in Ghana. It is no wonder that he came to regard June 4th as “that divine day”.
“He re-emerged as Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), when he led the successful coup that brought the short-lived 3rd Republic to an end on 31st December 1981. The tumultuous, and at times lawless, incidents of the AFRC’s three (3) month tenure of office, and of the early years of PNDC rule, are matters of record, winning him passionate admirers, vociferous critics, and determined lifelong enemies, all at the same time.
“He was the longest serving ruler in our history – eleven (11) years as a military leader, and eight (8) years as a twice elected civilian President, making nineteen (19) years in all. He was fortified in his work by his union with his celebrated consort, the equally dynamic Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, who proved to be a sturdy pillar and invaluable companion to the very end, and who bore him four (4) children, the eldest of whom, Zanetor, is continuing his tradition of public service.
“It was no secret that the relationship that existed between the two of us, right from the heady days of 1979, through to my brief period in exile, his assumption of office as the 1st President of the 4th Republic, the historic Kume Preko demonstrations, my period as Attorney General and Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Kufuor administration, to my being elected 2008 NPP presidential candidate, was one of open animosity. We did not see eye to eye!!
However, with time, things changed. We came to see value in each other, and understood, to a very large degree, our respective perspectives. One thing we had in common was our mutual commitment to public service.
“My visit to his Ridge residence in 2012 signified the easing of tensions between us, leading to a friendship that lasted for the better part of some eight (8) years. Indeed, when the Ghanaian people, in 2016, reposed, for the first time, their confidence in me in the elections of that year, one of the first persons on whom I paid a courtesy call was His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings.
“From my entry into office, right up to the day he was called by his Maker, he remained a good friend and a repository of sound advice. I knew that, in moments of difficulty in my presidency, I could count on his considerable wealth of experience and knowledge. On those occasions, he came through for me.
There was a symbolic gesture he advanced to me at the funeral of his late mother, Madam Victoria Agbotui, held at the Forecourt of the State House on 24th October 2020. It was to be our last time together. He was called up by the clergy to receive special prayers as the only surviving son. He told the men of God to wait and called for me to walk up to join him to receive the special prayers. He whispered to my ears as I stood beside him: “I reminded them that they should pray for you also because you had also lost your mother.” I was touched by this.”
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana