Leaders are supposed to lead both by precept and example. Good leaders use carefully chosen words and concepts to galvanize the energies of their people, towards pursuing great purposes for themselves and their nations. Through selfless examples of commitment, hard-work and sacrifices; these ends are attained.

Bad leaders do not even know the importance of the words they speak. Their speeches are dry and drab. They discourage and confuse their people with almost every word they speak. To make things worse, they are masters in the art of ‘divide-and-rule’; hypocrisy; treachery and trickery.

Most leaders have a mixture of both qualities. The better leaders have more of the former and less of the latter; whiles the worse leaders have less of the former and more of the latter. Unfortunately most of the leaders of the developing world, and especially Africa fall into the second category.

The bottom-line is that leaders leave lasting imprints on the nations they rule and the people they lead. They bequeath their people with ethical, developmental, spiritual and philosophical legacies. Sometimes these legacies live on several years after they themselves have died and gone.

I want us to look at the last four leaders (Presidents) of Ghana in the light of the above broad categories. This exercise is meant to help us accomplish the following objectives:
• Tone down on the level of partisan alliances to these leaders;
• Help our two former Presidents to view their contributions with the utmost humility;
• Encourage the current President to be more responsible in his conduct in office;
• Make all of us more sober in our assessment of Presidential aspirants;
• Help future Presidents to seek to be better leaders.
Our first Case Study is of course Jerry John Rawlings:
He burst into the political arena through the famous June 4th Coup ‘de tat. According to him and the key apologist of the regime, Boakye Djan; theirs was an effort to end ‘Military Interventions in the Political History of Ghana’.

Jerry Rawlings held the people spellbound with his people-centered rhetoric and selfless devotion to ordinary everyday duties like helping to clean the gutters, and joining the masses to evacuate locked-up cocoa in inaccessible parts of the country. He ruthlessly punished ‘criminals’ including exacting the death penalty of three former Heads of State: Generals Afrifa, Acheampong and Fred Akuffo.
Rawlings and his people handed over power after three months to the late Limann on September 23, 1979.

Rawlings however came back through a Coup ‘de tat on December 31, 1981. He ruled for 11 years as a military leader. In 1992, he became the first President of our fourth Republican Constitution in a general election, and governed for an addition eight years- bringing it to a total of nineteen long years.
How does this Prophet assess Papa Jaye (as he is fondly called by his supporters)?

First his strengths:
1. He has quite an appealing personality- quite likeable. He exudes strength, energy and confidence. He has a winsome smile. His ‘education was acquired more through ‘Street Professors’ than those of the Lecture Halls

2. He is and remains a good communicator. He almost always knows what to say to carry the ‘masses’ along. He always wants to be sure that he has the ‘ordinary people’ on his side. Through a mixture of his own renditions of popular proverbs- he most of the time leaves his audience screaming with joy and laughter- and also angry against Jerry’s opponents.

3. He knows his limitations (especially in academics); and will therefore want to work with competent people- but these must however realize and accept without any questioning that: ‘JJ is the Big Boss’ (JJBB). They must have some kind of ‘fear’ for him- because he can be ‘very wild and dangerous at times’.

4. Jerry is not a Socialist, but was quick to recognize that ‘the Ghanaian Socialists were the ready tools’ he had at his disposal; for his personal survival and that of his ‘revolutionary’ agenda. He also fully exploited the Ghanaian’s penchant for ‘Power at any cost’, and thereby attracted some of the leading members of the parties in opposition to Limann’s PNP; and even some of the unprincipled members of Limann’s party.

5. As a Pragmatist, Rawlings managed somehow to get his ‘Socialist Boys’ to kowtow to IMF and World Bank Conditionalities, as his new Economic Paradigm sometime in 1983. Through revolutionary force, fear and intimidation he managed- through the enterprising Finance Minister, Kwesi Botchway, to bring some ‘sanity’ into the economic malaise of the Mid-Sixties to the Early-Eighties. The IMF and World Bank Conditionalities could perhaps only be carried through with the ‘Dictatorial and Revolutionary Arms’ of Jerry Rawlings and his

6. Jerry’s reign brought quite some huge developments in Infrastructure; Health; Education (I do not think the JSS-SSS system was complete waste); Re-Structuring of our Economy (the divestiture of several State Enterprises was absolutely necessary); and even in Law (the Intestate Succession Law) being maybe the hallmark of his legal accomplishments.

7. Jerry is appreciated by lots of people in Africa and some parts of the world. He is thus helping to raise the banner of Ghana- though out of office.
His Weaknesses
Jerry Rawlings has several fine qualities, and achieved a lot for Ghana. But he also has abundance of weaknesses, which if not tamed or corrected, could destroy himself, his followers and even Ghana.

1. If things do not go the way he thinks; those things must be wrong, and must be resisted or rejected wherever possible. Recently I heard one of his supporters make a statement to this end, on an FM station: “If I have to eat even Rawlings’ excreta for survival- I will”.

2. “Jerry Rawlings does no wrong”. This is obviously one of the very bad pictures Rawlings cuts of himself. If crime is committed during his reign, it is the Opposition that is behind it. But if he finds himself in Opposition, and crime goes on: “The government has lost control over security. What a bad government? Soldiers must remove them from power- they cannot govern”
3. If he is in power and his policies are challenged; those who mount up such a challenge are nation wreckers who must be ‘hunted down and destroyed’. But if he finds himself in the Opposition; ‘Ghanaians must resist and reject unjust commands’.
4. Jerry Rawlings knows those who according to him murdered: The women during his reign; The Ya Naa, Roko Frimpong, Alhaji Mobilla; etc. He knows all of those who committed these crimes. Interestingly however, this Master Investigator, Astute Spy and Super-Intelligent Agent; does not know those who ‘burnt down his house’ recently- or does he?
5. When he assumed power in 1979, the cars on the streets of Ghana, were evidence of corruption; during his 19-year reign he pointed to the same cars as signs of how prosperous Ghanaians had become;

6. He counted among the ‘Criminals’ of Ghana: Lawyers, Professors, Doctors, Businessmen, etc; today he has stopped saying so, because: His daughter is a Medical Doctor; another daughter is a Lawyer; he has several Professors in the NDC and several Businessmen (maybe including his own wife) as friends and acquaintances;
7. Jerry Rawlings and Boakye Djan claimed that in 1979 they had to kill all previous Coup makers, because they had committed treason. That according to them was a deterrent to all Ghanaians and coup makers. The clear message they wanted to send out was:

“Anyone who overthrew a Constitutionally Elected Government, will be shot in accordance with the Laws and Constitutions of Ghana- in spite of any moves they may make in insulating themselves from this just end”. Boakye Djan has said this over and over again. And it makes a lot of sense- does it not? Because JJ shouts the loudest about ‘Justice’ in Ghana: Why should he not do the honorable thing- go to the stakes- and maybe Boakye Djan can pull the trigger this time- or friend- am I wrong? After all, he overthrew the sovereign will of Ghanaians in 1981- or did he not?

Ghanaians please listen: “If the one who cries out for ‘Justice’, the loudest in Ghana; is himself a fugitive from justice, is he actually telling us that ‘we are all cowards’?” Tell me, please- if you think that I am wrong!

Friend, this is the first part of four write-ups meant to help all of us to look at the strengths and weaknesses of our Four Most Recent Presidents. At the end of the forth publication- about the current President Atta Mills; maybe we shall be in a better position to answer the Question: “Do Ghanaians have to Fight Over Who Becomes President?”

Source: The Prophet’s counsel