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Knowing Jerry John Rawlings ,Ghana's former President

By Wendy Amarteifio
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Knowing Jerry John Rawlings ,Ghana's former President
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 Jerry John Rawlings was born in June 1947 in Accra, to Victoria Agbotui and James Ramsey John, a chemist from Castle Douglas in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland. Rawlings attended Achimota School.

Rawlings' family had little influence in his ideology, like the tribes, his family belonged to, the Nzema and the Ewe were sub-groups of minimal importance, and he was the only child born to his mother. This lack of a prominent lineage that became a political advantage for Rawlings, as it signalled freedom from family or tribal pressures. 

Rawlings attended Achimota School and married to Nana Konadu Agyeman, who he met in Achimota College, and they have three daughters: Zanetor Rawlings, Yaa Asantewaa Rawlings, Amina Rawlings; and one son, Kimathi Rawlings. Rawlings completed his secondary education at Achimota College in 1967.

He joined the Ghana air force shortly afterwards.

Military Career

In March 1968, he was posted to Takoradi in the Western Region to continue his studies. He graduated in January 1969 and was commissioned a Pilot Officer, winning the coveted "Speed Bird Trophy" as the best cadet in flying and airmanship. He earned the rank of Flight Lieutenant (Flt. Lt.) in April 1978.

During his service with the Ghanaian Air Force, Rawlings perceived deterioration of discipline and morale, reflecting the corruption of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) at that time. As promotion brought him into contact with the privileged classes and their social values, his view of the injustices in society hardened. He read widely and discussed social and political ideas with a growing circle of like-minded friends and colleagues.

On May 28, 1979, Rawlings, together with six others who were arrested earlier, appeared before a General Court Martial in Accra, charged with leading a mutiny of junior officers and enlisted men of the Ghanaian Armed Forces on May 15, 1979. There was a strong public reaction, especially after his statement had been read in court, explaining the social injustices that had prompted him to act. The ranks of the Armed Forces, in particular, expressed deep sympathy with his stated aims.

Political career

When he was scheduled for another court appearance on 4 June 1979, Rawlings was sprung from custody. With the support of both the military and civilians, he led a coup that ousted the Supreme Military Council from office and brought the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) to power. The AFRC, under the chairmanship of Rawlings, carried out a much wider "house-cleaning exercise" aimed at purging the armed forces and society at large of corruption and graft as well as restoring a sense of moral responsibility and accountability in public life.

On 24th September 1979, the AFRC handed over power to a civilian government led by the People's National Party (PNP), under President Hilla Limann.On 31st December 1981, a Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), composed of both civilian and military members, was established with Rawlings as Chairman. In his second tenure in power, Rawlings' policies became more centrist, and he began to advocate free-market reforms.

Rawlings's reputation on foreign policy received a boost when he acted as a key figure in a mediated peace settlement between factions in nearby Liberia, a nation burdened by five years of civil war.

Ex-President Rawlings walked into the corridors of power through a military coup d’état in 1979 and later handed over to a democratic government.

In 1981 he took back power from Dr Hilla Limann’s government citing weak leadership plus economic malfeasance as his motive and after 13 years returned the nation to democratic governance in 1992 where he contested and won two terms as president.

Jerry John Rawlings is the only president of Ghana to have two vice-presidents serve under him.

Ex-President Rawlings walked into the corridors of power through a military coup d’état in 1979 and later handed over to a democratic government.

In 1981 he took back power from Dr. Hilla Limann’s government citing weak leadership plus economic malfeasance as his motive and after 13 years returned the nation to democratic governance in 1992 where he contested and won two terms as president.

Jerry John Rawlings is the only president of Ghana to have two vice-presidents serve under him.

Achievements

-The former President absorbed hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians living in Nigeria who were expelled. Housed them at El -Wak stadium in 1983 and then moved them to their family homes. Most other economies, including even advanced ones such as Germany, saw their economies suffer when they reunified with integrated citizens (for example German reunification).

-He Built first ever memorials to Kwame Nkrumah and W.E.B. DuBois.

-JJ Rawlings Returned Ghana to democratic rule in 1992, after a public referendum by a wide majority approved a new constitution. Neither Nigeria, Iraq, Togo, nor Côte d'Ivoire were able to achieve this feat (in Nigeria two governments were overthrown during this period).

-He also passed the value added tax (VATR of 10%) to secure government revenue base, which today funds most government public expenditures.

-Passed the Ghana Educational Trust Fund (GET Fund) that is today educating millions of Ghanaians.

-Rawlings expanded electricity to Northern parts of Ghana.

-He contributed immensely towards dispute resolution and peacekeeping in several of the unstable countries in the West African sub-region and beyond.

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-In the urban road sector, reconstructed the entire Kumasi city roads, Sekondi-Takoradi city roads and Accra city roads. In Accra, these included the six-lane dual carriage road leading to the four-lane dual carriage road from the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange to the Independence Avenue.

-Established the University for Development Studies, and used his Hunger Award Prize Money to buy books for the University's Library.

-Constructed the modern regional hospitals at Cape Coast, Ho and Sunyani. Numerous modern district hospitals were constructed in the district capitals all over the country. Also, potable water was provided for so many communities that at the time he was leaving office, guinea worm infestation had virtually been eradicated from Ghana.

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