Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has given a vivid account of how he served as a local government minister under Chairman Rawlings’ Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).
Narrating his story to Kwaku Sakyi-Addo on Asaase Radio’s ‘Sunday Night’ programme, the former President explained that after the December 31, 1981 coup by Jerry John Rawlings, he was at the time an MP and all MPs were asked to report to the nearest Police Station.
He [Kufuor] after reporting to the Police Station found himself at the Ussher Fort Prisons for the second time; his first was after the 1972 coup that overthrew President Edward Akufo-Addo/Prime Minister Busia.
After being there for some time, it was announced on the radio that 36 MPs were being released. The 36 MPs that were released included 34 opposition MPs and he was “included”.
He said: “So I came out of Ussher Fort Prison. Then we were taken to Victor Owusu’s house the same day by AK Deku [a police officer who] was part of the MPs released.”
At Victor Owusu’s house, Kufuor recounted the Party elders telling them that the coup makers would be sending one Brigadier (Rtd.) Joseph Nunoo-Mensah to tell them that they [coup makers] wanted to work with outsiders to form a national government.
“So, the elders said [that] should any of us be invited by the new government, we shouldn’t say no because it is the national government and for the sake of Ghana. Then the very next morning after my release, Kwamena Ahwoi, came to my house saying Rawlings wanted to see me at Gonda Barracks,” he said.
He continued: “When we went there, with him [Rawlings] and about 10 people [Rawlings loyalists], they said that I should do local government for them. So, I said [that] ok because I have been city manager of Kumasi before so that shouldn’t be a problem. That’s how I got in there.
“Six months with them, I didn’t see the national government the elders of the party have been let to believe it would happen […] so I told Victor Owusu and the elders, this is far from what we were led to believe it would happen so I couldn’t be part of it and I left. When I put in my resignation, he [Rawlings] wrote a nice letter and signed stating clearly that they appreciate the difference in outlook [between me and them], wishing me well. I went about minding my own business.”
In 1992 with the resumption of the multiparty system of democracy in Ghana, Rawlings converted his military PNDC into the National Democratic Congress (NDC) while Kufuor joined the New Patriotic Party as founding member.
“In 1996, my party took [nominated] me to challenge him [Rawlings] and we challenged him and at the end of the day he was declared the winner. So, I said ok. I waited for my time till the year 2000, I got it,” he added.
Kufuor observed that when he became the President, Rawlings constantly criticised him at every opportunity that he got.
“The people had elected me through a constitution that he [Rawlings] had propagated, so, I thought he would accord the office I occupy with respect. President personifies the nation,” he stressed.