Leadership and succession: Rawlings leaves behind the Fourth Republic with Akufo-Addo


There is no doubt, the late former president, Jerry John Rawlings was such a formidable force to reckon with on Ghana’s political landscape. He has been very influential in the socio-political as well as the socio-economic accounts of Ghana in the last forty years or so, particularly in this fourth republican dispensation, from 1992 till date.

Rawlings has been instrumental in the current state of affairs of Ghana, talking about the peace, tranquility and the democracy we are enjoying presently. Indeed, a great tree has fallen ‘’and Ghana is poorer for this loss’’ as the president Nana Akufo-Addo rightly put it when he announced the death of the former president to the nation.

It is never a mystery that every assignment on this earth is time bound – we are aware of this, but we have no control over it. So, it is imperative that you ensure the continuity of your work while you are here and alive.  According to Dr. Myles Munroe, ‘’the greatest act of leadership is mentoring’’. In consequence, he also said that ‘’ your greatest gift to the world is your mentee’’.

According to him ‘’leadership success is measured by the success of your successor’’. It is obvious from the life story of the late former president that he did his best and all to groom successors in order to firmly ground the NDC party to ensure continuity of his struggles, achievements and ideals. He really mentored people in the NDC with solid principles. Regrettably, those he mentored have become corrupted and have distanced themselves far away from what the former president stood for – sending a strong indication to the former president when he was alive that there would be no continuity to Rawlings’ ideals and work, here on earth, when he is gone.

It is self-explanatory why those he mentored as Asiedu Nketiah, John Dramani Mahama, the Ahwoi brothers and the others tried so hard to push him out of the way of the NDC. Passively, they were trying to tell the late president that ‘look Mr. man, we are not the ones to pursue or continue your ideals when you are gone. We also have a mind of our own and desire to be exclusively independent minded’. It must have been the more reason why they had little regard for him in the party he founded himself, which is the NDC, as well as the several attempts at assassinating his person and what he stood for through despicable acts and words from the ‘babies with sharp teeth’ and the bizarre revelations in the ‘’working with Rawlings’’ book by Kwamena Awhoi.

I can discern to know how worried, frustrated and disappointed the former president was. I can feel the betrayal he suffered from the very people he trusted and brought up. I can also assume how uncertain it appeared to Mr. Rawlings to leave behind a legacy he has no worthy person in his immediate family, the NDC, to ensure its continuity.

Amazingly, he never gave up searching for a successor beyond his immediate background – he finally found one in the New Patriotic Party (NPP), in the person of president Nana Akufu-Addo. This somehow reveals why Rawlings recounted how he did not vote for Mahama in 2016 and how he wished for John Mahama to lose the 2016 elections too – he was convinced that, the NDC and its leadership do not care about the progress of Ghana through the fourth republic. If Mahama had won in 2016, he would have been the one to bury the late president – he would have been in-charge of the fourth republic meanwhile he has no belief in the ideals and the principles that form the foundation of this fourth republican constitution. God is always wise and right.

It is true, every good leader requires a bold, decisive, capable, credible, a visionary and a responsible successor. The founder of the fourth Republic and the first president of the fourth Republic, the late Jerry John Rawlings sought a successor in the party he founded with his life, together with strong beliefs and principles as its foundation.

Sadly, he could not get even one. He rather found solace and confidence in the leader of the New Patriotic Party. Rawlings’ action goes a long way to justify why the NPP is still the enduring political tradition in the country. In Ghana, the two political parties with strong traditions are the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Convention Peoples Party (CPP).

For the NDC, it has no political tradition. The late president was the tradition of the NDC, but they rejected him while he was alive and now, he is gone. Even when the tradition was here with them, they treated him with contempt – a clue that he cannot be the tradition. Therefore, the founder and the pinnacle of the NDC tradition was left with no other option than to leave behind to a trusted, endurable and a more formidable tradition which is the NPP.

As a characteristics of all great leaders, Rawlings’ death was peaceful and unexpected. Nana Addo as president instituted the ‘Constitution Day’. January 7 in Ghana is a national public holiday known as Constitution Day. This holiday is meant to commemorate the institution of a new constitution and the fourth republic on 7 January 1993.

By virtue of this singular act, Nana Addo has demonstrated ability and vision to be the one to guard and perpetuate the Fourth Republican Constitution. Instituting the Constitution Day is clear indication that, the fourth republic is now secured and consolidated. I think that was exactly what the former president was waiting to witness before he departed.

Rawlings is blessed to have had a successor he can trust even though the person is not from his backyard. Rawlings, I am cock sure, has therefore given the keys of the Fourth Republic to President Akufu-Addo before he exited; Nana Addo and the NPP must make it count. Ghanaians also have confidence in him (Nana Addo) to deliver it the way Rawlings would have loved it delivered. If anybody finds this a difficulty to understand, then I cannot explain any further. Rawlings knew that the meaningful economic transformation we are pursuing in Ghana currently is plausible with the New Patriotic Party. He (Rawlings) had completely lost confidence in the NDC.

Ghanaians, therefore made no mistake for voting against the NDC and John Dramani Mahama in the 2020 elections. Rawlings had posited when he was alive that, Mahama knows he cannot win the 2020 election. And that, all he is doing is geared towards the 2024 election.

As per Rawlings’ postulation, John Mahama simply wanted to remedy the vote difference from 2016 election to at least satisfy and justify himself of his chances in 2024. Surprisingly, he succeeded in doing just that; I am sure the election outcome surprises him (Mahama) too. And that is how come confidently, he is in court claiming the results were rigged in favor of the president, Nana Akufu – Addo. It is because he never imagined himself doing so well in the just ended 2020 elections.

So, I am sure by now, he is harboring a belief in his heart and mind of his chances in 2024. But, if however, the vote difference had been widened, it would have signaled to him a rejection by the Ghanaian people and prepare him to retire instead. The NPP should therefore not be complacent. The NPP must leave no stone unturned to ensure that John Mahama and the NDC is barred from the presidency in perpetuity – I believe that, doing so will pacify the soul of the late former President to sleep and rest in peace.

>>>The writer is the Executive Director, Kandifo Institute. He can be reached on [email protected]

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