By Victoria Ojeme
The government of the Republic of Ghana has announced the death of their former President, Jerry Rawlings and an immediate suspension of election campaigns over its morning.
Rawlings, born June 22, 1947 in Accra, Ghana was a military and political leader in Ghana who twice (1979, 1981) overthrew the government and seized power. His second period of rule afforded Ghana political stability and competent economic management.
He went on to oversee Ghana’s transition to multi-party democracy, winning election in 1992 and 1996 before stepping down in 2001.
Today, Ghana is considered one of West Africa’s most mature democracies and regularly sees power change hands between its two main parties.
“A great tree has fallen, and Ghana is poorer for this loss,” President Akufo-Addo said in a statement on Rawlings’ death.
“It is with great sadness that I announce to the nation that the Ist President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, has joined his ancestors.
“This tragic event occurred at 10:10 a.m. on Thursday 12th November 2020 at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, where the former President was receiving treatment, after a short illness.
“I convey the deep sympathies of the Government and people of Ghana to his wife, former first lady Nana konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the children and family of the late President in these difficult times.
“Government will work closely with the family of President Rawlings on arrangements for a befitting state funeral for the late president and will keep the nation informed accordingly full stop a great tree has fallen and gather his power from this loss.
“May his soul rest in perfect peace in the bosom of the Almighty until the last day of the Resurrection when we shall meet again,” President Akufo-Addo said in the statement.
Rawlings was the son of a Scottish father and a Ghanaian mother. He was educated at Achimoto College and the military academy at Teshie. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Ghanaian air force in 1969 and became a flight lieutenant and expert pilot, skilled in aerobatics.
In June 1979 Rawlings and other junior officers led a successful military coup with the purported aim of purging the military and public life of widespread corruption. He and his Armed Forces Revolutionary Council ruled for 112 days, during which time the former heads of state, Gen. Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and Lieut. Gen. Frederick W.K. Akuffo, were tried and executed. Rawlings then yielded power to a freely elected civilian president, Hilla Limann, who promptly retired Rawlings from the air force.
Rawlings continued to be a popular figure, however, and on Dec. 31, 1981, after two years of weak civilian rule during which Ghana’s economy continued to deteriorate, Rawlings overthrew Limann’s government, accusing it of leading the nation “down to total economic ruin.” Rawlings established a Provisional National Defense Council as the new government and imprisoned Limann and some 200 other politicians.
“Peoples’ Defense Committees” were set up in neighbourhoods, as were workers’ councils to monitor production in factories. When the failure of these and other populist measures had become clear by 1983, Rawlings reversed course and adopted conservative economic policies, including dropping subsidies and price controls in order to reduce inflation, privatizing many state-owned companies, and devaluing the currency in order to stimulate exports. These free-market measures sharply revived Ghana’s economy, which by the early 1990s had one of the highest growth rates in Africa.
In 1992, in the first presidential elections held in Ghana since 1979, Rawlings was chosen as president. He was reelected in 1996 and stepped down from the presidency in early 2001.
Vanguard News Nigeria