??????????? During the nineteen years that he dominated the Ghanaian political landscape like a colossus, there was not much that he did to encourage private entrepreneurship in the country. Instead, Mr. Rawlings and his junta and half-junta regimes of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and the so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) set to work summarily expropriating and dismantling the flourishing businesses of hardworking Ghanaian entrepreneurs like Opoku of Poku Transport fame, B. A. Mensah and Siaw, of Tata Brewery renown.
Often the pretext for such destruction of local business enterprises and initiatives was that these proprietors were years in arrears of taxation. In the case of Mr. Appiah-Menkah, of Apino Soap fame, Mr. Rawlings would vigorously campaign for his boycotting by Ghanaian consumers because the remarkable legal light and entrepreneur refused to truck with the latter’s faux-socialist economic policies. Actually, Chairman Rawlings’ was veritably a politics of envy and sheer greed.
The smarter move, in the case of entrepreneurs in arrears of taxation, of course, would have been for Chairman Rawlings and his Abongo Boys to have contracted the expertise of certified and chartered accountants and revenue collectors to fairly assess the amounts owed and even impose a reason modicum of punitive taxation on the culprits. The problem, however, was that his faux-socialist economic agenda was neither effectively designed nor executed to ensure the sustainability of resource-famished state enterprises on the verge of collapsing, such as most of the factories grouped together under the aegis of the Ghana Industrial Holdings Corporation (GIHOC).
In the end, Mr. Rawlings and his henchmen and women would criminally resort to the reckless divestment of the assets of these state and public enterprises into the private ownership of his “revolutionary” cronies and associates, and some critics have even alleged, his own wife. And so it is not clear what he is talking about when Chairman Rawlings poignantly observes that “there are many Ghanaians with talents that could be translated into growing giant firms, but that can only happen with the right leadership”? (See “Ghanaians Need the Right Leadership to Deliver – Rawlings” Radioxyzonline.com/Ghanaweb.com 3/4/13).
I know that not all Ghanaian entrepreneurs suffered humongous losses under the drawn-out faux-socialist dictatorship of Mr. Rawlings; but there is absolutely no question that the overwhelming majority of the most successful businessmen and women did lose their fortunes under the protracted tenure of Togbega Avaklasu I. It is also significant to highlight the fact that Mr. Rawlings made the foregoing quoted observation recently while launching a Ghanaian-owned merchant ship by the name of the MV Adobia, reportedly owned by a Mr. Stanley Ahorlu, of the African Independent Coastal Services.
Having sedulously followed his rabidly anti-Akan pronouncements in the past, particularly where indigenous entrepreneurship is concerned, I can fearlessly and unabashedly say that had the owner of the MV Adobia’s name been Kufuor, Mensah or Opoku, Chairman Rawlings’ attitude would have been vastly different. Very likely, he would have self-righteously questioned where that Akan businessman or woman secured the wherewithal for such a major purchase. I know this for a fact because several years ago – circa. 2007 or thereabouts – during the Anloga internecine hostilities, when then-President John Agyekum-Kufuor dispatched security personnel to ensure that flared tempers were cooled and peace and civility restored, Chairman Rawlings bitterly accused Mr. Kufuor of criminally attempting to impose “Asante Imperialism” on the Anlo people.
I also cannot trust his sincerity, when Mr. Rawlings quips as follows: “I have always known it [i.e. the entrepreneurial ingenuity of the Ghanaian people]; and that is why I have always said that Ghanaians are [a] beautiful people. Just give them the right leadership, and they will perform miracles.” Whatever miracles he thinks his leadership has led Ghanaians to perform, Chairman Rawlings has yet to convincingly articulate to his largely pistol-whipped and terror-chastened audiences.
The preceding notwithstanding, we can only heartily congratulate Mr. Ahorlu, the merchant ship mogul, and hope that his business flourishes to benefit his countrymen and women and, indeed, the global community at large.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
E-mail: [email protected]