What is there that is left to be said about the controversy concerning President Rawlings’ removal of the late former Vice-President Amissah-Arthur from the presidential aircraft in Tamale?
Absolutely nothing. And so, it surprises me that the tabloids and their trusted partisan falcons smuggled this matter back on to the front pages. I don’t blame them. The real culprit is once again Kwamena Ahwoi, who thinks he can profit from anything and everything including lies.
Well, as this incident goes, it was, at worst, a very small matter of indiscipline that needed to be cured by the then President.
According to Former President Rawlings, he had to do what did for a good reason.
And as he bluntly put it: “If I hadn’t done what I did to Mr. Amissah-Arthur, it could have caused us in some ways -they exhibited some level of insensitivity towards the Chiefs and the Elders.”
Well, former President Rawlings—who’s a model of discipline, rectitude and integrity — continues with the narration:
“During the campaign, I can’t recall which one – when as head of state, I move into places, say Tamale, for instance, some of the paramount chiefs turn out to welcome me. Quite often they’d be there waiting before I arrive. When I enter, if I have nothing doing, I move straight to meet them, greet and brief them. Not once have I gone there without informing them. On this occasion, Prof Mills as a flagbearer had to embark on a trip to the North. When he arrives at the residence, these Chiefs were waiting, elderly Chiefs I mean. Prof Mills walked pass them, climbed up the stairs and walked away. A little more later, the carrier of his bag, followed, presumably wanting to handle it a little more better, he followed up and went up to meet Prof Mills. Prof may have informed him that, he should inform the Chiefs he’s tired, so he couldn’t meet them. I don’t know if Madam Faustina Nelson could vividly recall this incident or be truthful/bold enough to narrate this development. I was not there. Somebody got panicked and called Madam Nelson and she called me to find out how are we going to intervene to prevent further disgrace. I found out they were going to leave the following day. I stopped my programs in Accra and went up there. When we landed, a whole retinue of people were lined-up there waiting for us. Amissah-Arthur wanted to enter the plane, in my mind, I wanted to clearly display to everyone about what I wanted to do. I made sure it was very visible to teach us something. I wanted them to know when I’m here, I’m the leader, I will not tolerate such disrespect from any of them. Some of the chiefs, including the senior ones came from very far places. There was a time on my campaign trip when I wanted to meet chiefs at 6pm, I ended up meeting them at12am. You know what, places we couldn’t plan for had to be factored in eventually. They kept stopping us to talk to them from place to place and that took a long time to reach the Chiefs. Even Aliu Mahama went to meet the people with aluminum sheets to present to the Chief but they told him they knew who they’re waiting for.
In my mind, I said, if Prof is not yet a President yet he’s behaving this way, how about if he’s a President? Mr. Amissah-Arthur should have noticed the climate and handled it appropriately but not to return and tell the chiefs that, the Prof was tired. That’s an insult and a disrespectful message from a messenger to paramount Chiefs from distant areas in the region who’ve been waiting since afternoon to welcome and pay their respect. What the hell…are we gods? I came to lead and serve not lord over them. They’ve seen enough of that humiliation and been disrespected enough. They cannot continue leaving under very difficult situations with even no clean water to drink- drinking their brown water and still be worshipping us? Who born dog!”
As inconveniencing as this was, Amissah-Arthur, in the opinion of President Rawlings was an honest man. But he just couldn’t understand why a man of his calibre could not handle the situation it ought to on this occasion.
The disrespect and disdain shown the chiefs was absolutely unacceptable to former President Rawlings, and his narrative above should be enough to cure the mischievous intent of Kwamena Ahwoi and his media collaborators.
The inconvenient truth, or the real issue now is more about Prof Mills-Amissah-Arthur’s display of insensitivity on that day. We already knew he was an instinctive political talent with an endearing demeanour. But the flipside to his impressive qualities is the self-destructive willingness to indulge his pet peeves that demonstrate that his primary characteristics are a thin skin and an overwhelming desire to snubbing others – It was not about personalities or just embarrassing the then Deputy Minister of Finance, who later became a Vice- President, but teaching them emotional intelligence and respect. President Rawlings that I know doesn’t disrespect people or team members. He shows a high sense of sensitivity, humility and reverent to Chiefs and traditional leaders. He came to serve not to Lord over the people.
And again, Rawlings as we all know him came into leadership clear-eyed and practical, with the goal of implementing discipline and integrity . He always had a stabilizing and organizing influence on his government and wouldn’t tolerate such indiscipline.
The Rawlings era was a bright, shining interlude between successful attempts to right the pre-revolutionary era and it has now come to a close after a glorious run.