The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is fighting government over the funeral arrangements of late former President Jerry John Rawlings after virtually hounding out the party’s founder and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings.
NDC practically chased out Mr Rawlings and his wife out of the party they founded and are now seeking to use the death of the party’s founder to breathe life into their dead campaign.
There were even some NDC faithful and their hatchet men who described the late former President as “Modern Day Judas”, “Traitor” and “Twin Brother of President Akufo-Addo”, because in their view, he supposedly abandoned NDC and was too closed to President Nana Akufo-Addo in his dealings.
Ghana’s longest-serving head of state and first president of the fourth republic Mr Rawlings died on Thursday, 12 November 2020 at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital after a short ailment.
As a former President of the Republic, it is the responsibility of government to give him a befitting state burial in consultation with the bereaved family.
However, NDC’s General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketiah claimed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is doing everything to “hijack” the funeral of the late former President.
“We were sorely disappointed that the President of the Republic, even in issuing a statement of condolence, refused or failed to recognise the fact that President Rawlings was the founder of the NDC.
“It is against all the different practices we have been engaged in, in the past, as far as the death of prominent members of the two political parties are concerned.
“The President has refused to recognise that the man belongs to NDC, and he is the founder of NDC”, Mr Asiedu Nketiah popularly known as General Mosquito reiterated in an interview with Accra-based Citi FM on Friday.
Commenting on events relating to Mr Rawlings’ passing, Mr Nketiah claimed “Everything about this funeral, so far, depicts an attempt by an opponent to hijack the funeral of the founding father of our political party, and we don’t think the funeral of our party founder ought to be organised somewhere, and we get invited.
NDC, he demanded, should play a key role in the processes leading to the final funeral rites of the late President.
“We have called on the immediate family to share condolences, and we are beginning to discuss the way forward. We have directed all branches of our party countrywide to organise events countrywide that will give a fitting celebration of the life of our founder… We will participate [in the national funeral] but that will not stop us from organising our own thing”, Mr Asiedu Nketiah stated.
Book of condolence brouhaha
The NDC General Secretary claimed members of the main opposition party could not sign the book of condolence at the Accra International Conference Centre on Friday because government had directed the state protocol to close the place when they got there.
However, information gathered by THE CUSTODIAN indicated that when Mr Mahama led the NDC delegation to the Rawlingses, he was told that the book of condolence will be open from Monday and yet they still went to the conference centre.
Akufo-Addo’s action so far
After officially announcing the former President Rawlings’ passing to the nation via a statement on Thursday, President Nana Akufo-Addo, on the same day, received a delegation from the family of the late president, who formally informed him of the death at the Jubilee House.
On Friday, 13 November 2020, the President, during a passing out ceremony of some army recruits, used the opportunity to inform the Ghana Armed Forces about the former military leader’s death.
He also led a government delegation that visited former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings to console her.
Both the president and his vice-president have also suspended all campaign activities after declaring a 7-day national mourning period during which all flags will fly at half-mast in Mr Rawlings’ honour.
NDC consoles JJ’s family
The NDC presidential candidate, former President John Mahama and his running mate, Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, also suspended all their campaign activities and returned to Accra to mourn with the family of the late former head of state.
The NDC, led by Mr Mahama, also held a meeting with a high-powered committee tasked to coordinate the funeral activities of the former President.
Mr Mahama later led the NDC to visit and console former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and the bereaved family.