There are very few men on earth who can thump their chest and say: “I staged two successful coups in one country.” Jerry John Rawlings is one of them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think he’s the only one. “I even gave advanced notice before staging the second,” he can boast. “And no one could stop me.”
Surely, living under the shadow of a man like that will be a nightmare for any president. And that, for me, explains most (if not all) of the Kufuor administration’s rush decisions against this legendary coup maker. Since he assumed office, Kufuor has had this morbid fear that he will wake up one day in the gallows with Rawlings back in charge.
Rawlings says “boom” and government officials are scurrying around like little rats, seeking cover from the former dictator. Rawlings says something about an “explosion” and government decides to withdraw his “privileges”. Rawlings meets some former senior and military officers and there are conspiracy theories flying all over the place that he might be plotting a coup. To stop the coup from taking place, the men who met with him are “banned from all military and police installations in the country in the interest of national security.”
I think government’s policy on Rawlings is “better look stupid than feel sorry.”
I don’t know the sort of intelligence that formed the basis for the decision the national security co-ordinator to come to the conclusion that banning people like Lieutenant General Arnold Quainoo, Brigadier General Nunoo Mensah and C. K. Dewornu will serve the interest of national security.
Rawlings meets with a bunch of ageing (and aged) former military officers and they think he’s going to stage a coup? I know Rawlings can’t be trusted. If I were president, I will give him “close marking”. And that, I believe, is exactly what Kufuor has told his security capos to do. He can’t afford to take chances. But, seriously, this ban on the men who had lunch (supposedly) with him is ridiculous. Some might say this is justifiable paranoia. I think it’s just petty.
General Nunoo Mensah has been making some noises about alleged plans to sell the property which serves as the official residence of the Chief of Defence Staff. He stayed in that house before and so he has a certain emotional attachment to it. I don’t agree with him that the building should not be sold. But he’s a Ghanaian and he has a right to speak his mind. He has also complained that he’s been trying to meet with the defence minister to talk about security issues but the minister doesn’t seem so interested. Last Friday, I heard him exchanging words with the defence minister on radio. They seemed to be having a friendly disagreement. Then suddenly… wham! He’s slapped with a ban, ostensibly in the interest of national security.” When did disagreeing with the defence minister become a national security issue? I think he is the main target of the ban and to make it look like something sinister is going on, they decided to bunch him up with the other oldies who met with Rawlings a few weeks ago. For good measure, they added a former police commander who was erroneously mentioned in a newspaper report as having been part of that meeting with the former president.
If Rawlings was planning something as sinister as destabilising the state (staging a coup or inciting a mutiny) why will he debase his legend and work with old dudes like Arnold Quainoo.
Remember him? Quainoo failed to stop Charles Taylor’s madness in Liberia when he was sent there as commander of an ECOWAS peacekeeping force. He came home limping. The story is often told that in one serious battle, Quainoo (also known as Buffalo Soldier) was allegedly found hiding under a table. And that was when he was young. I won’t plot a coup with a man like that.
Now, let’s assume that Rawlings is actually plotting a coup with those retirees and there is sufficient, dependable intelligence that they are up to no good. I am no expert but surely, if I were in charge of state security and I had good intelligence (and evidence), I will bring all the coup plotters in for questioning. If the plot is at an advanced stage, I will arrest them all without thinking twice about it and have them put on trial immediately. The last thing that will cross my fickle mind will be to prohibit them from entering military and police installations. Please, with Jerry Rawlings’ reputation as a legendary coup maker, I don’t think this ban will stop him in his tracks – that is if he’s really bent on causing any trouble. It all doesn’t make sense. Our ‘intelligence’ people are not as intelligent as they should be.
No Brigadier Nunoo Mensah thinks the ban is a “useless exercise” and that the National Security Council has “always got it wrong.” Clearly, he’s unfazed by the ban. What will he lose if he doesn’t go to Burma Camp or Kamina Barracks? A similar ban on Rawlings some years ago has not diminished his threat – that is in the eyes of the National Security Council.
If you happen to have some difficulty in your attempt to make sense of this ban, don’t worry. There is a moral in the story for us all: choose your friends carefully, don’t have lunch with just anybody ( and certainly not with someone who likes to use words like ‘boom’ and ‘explosion’) and don’t talk with ‘strange’ people about matters of national security – even if you know a thing or two about the subject. Otherwise, you will be ‘banned’ from strategic locations like the neighbourhood KVIP. Brigadier Nunoo Mensah and his friends can afford to stay away from Burma Camp. Most of us cannot afford to stay away from the KVIP!