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Ghana: Do You Have a Spare Room For Ex-President Rawlings?

Former president of Ghana Jerry Rawlings, spea...
Image via Wikipedia

I was a bit sad when I saw the bold headline at Modern Ghana website yesterday; “Rawlings Homeless”.  Jerry Rawlings is the former president of Ghana. I became totally shocked after reading just part of the story. In February, 2010 an intense fire described as “rapid and fast” razed to ashes the residence of former President Jerry Rawlings with nothing to salvage from the debris.

The fire was said to have started at about 0420GMT during a heavy rain characterized by intermittent power cuts. While no life was lost, the disaster left behind “the depressing spectacle” of the ruins of a house which firemen had tried in vain to salvage in three hours.

The fire burnt nearly every valuable item and by the time the fire service personnel were done putting out the inferno; everything was down to ashes except the concrete walls and pillars.

According to the Modern Ghana website Ghana's former president and his wife are homeless and urgently looking for an accomodation to rent in Accra.

It is also reported that the former president had to travel from a “small village house” at Tefle in the Volta Region to Ghana’s capital; Accra for meetings when the needs arise whiles his wife is currently putting up with her mother at the Nyaniba Estate residency; a situation which is affecting their marriage.

According to the former first lady, Nana Konadu; when their Ridge residence got burnt on February 14, 2010; government promised to find an alternative residential facility for them but 5 months later, that promise from government is far from being fulfilled.  She also complained that the Ridge residence might have been saved from the fire if the house had a constant flow of water because when the fire fighters arrived, they had little water in their tanks and thought they could get some more water from the house.

Let's look at the opinions of Ghanaian bloggers and their readers on this issue. Obed Nanayaw Sarpong does not understand why the former first family wants a new house from government:

Earlier last week, the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings granted an interview to Joy fm in Accra in which she spoke widely about how her family life has been affected after they lost the ridge residence. I couldn't help laughing. I hated that my almost 5-month old prophecy that the former first family would demand a new residence from government, and the people of this country, was coming to pass. The rest, we all live to see.

As a country, we should wipe off the letters in the constitution that give those 3 or more houses plus cars etc to people who have served this country. My opinion is that if they love this country well enough like I do, they would allow those monies to be used in ensuring the people of this country get good and safe drinking water, a place to ‘ease’ themselves (if they get to eat at all), schools etc. Things they couldn't provide while they had access to the resources to do so!

Mike reacts to Obed’s post saying:

So they lost their Ridge residence? Why not live at their Adjiringanor house? What about the one off the Volta River near the Sogakope Bridge? They don't own those anymore?This is why I'm excited about Ghanaians blogging. Those that are full of crap will be noted. If Rawlings had a blog in 1978, 1979, we would have evidence of what drove him to power and what he stood for. The hypocrisy in some ranks has hurt the country and apparently is still crippling us.

Obed Nanayaw Sarpong responds to Mike's comment:

@Mike, they say the house is not completed–there is a 10m high wall around that residence. The wife says Mr. Rawlings lives at the Tefle residence and it's a challenge for them.
I get disappointed when these men and women shamelessly want to feed on us

Ghana’s Most Irreverent; Ato Kwamena Dadzie says, “Get a mortgage, Mr. Rawlings”:

Almost everything Mrs. Rawlings said in that interview seemed calculated to deceive Ghanaians into thinking that her family was in a very dire situation and to force the hand of government to do her bidding, knowing very well that she had rejected government offers of alternative accommodation. I foolishly fell for her trickery. I sat on radio and said government had no excuse for its failure to provide the Rawlings’s with alternative accommodation – five months after something (or someone) set their house on fire. I wasn’t alone. Others were also incensed and government had no choice than to come out to quickly rebut her claim that nothing had been done yet to provide her family with a home.”

With that, one question was foremost on many Ghanaian minds. “Ah, Rawlings paa,” one man asked. “After 19 years in power as a dictator, is he saying that he hasn’t built a house for himself?”

Ato advises Rawlings to go to Ghana Home Loans to get a mortgage:

That’s just about as far as we should go. It’s a good salary Rawlings gets. If his East Legon mansion is not fit for his royal revolutionary habitation, he should go to Ghana Home Loans and get a mortgage. Last time I checked, his son, Kimathi works with Fidelity Bank. They also offer mortgages. He should go and take one.

George Bush’s retirement home was not provided by the American government. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are living in their own homes. So is Kufuor. It’s not beyond Rawlings to move into his own place. He’s even lucky that his so called “village house” in Tefle is on the banks of a river. Gordon Brown would kill for that.

If you become president of this nation, take a monthly salary and several other perks that make it virtually unnecessary for you to use your own money and you can’t build a house of your own and you turn around expecting the state to provide you with accommodation upon retirement, then you are nothing but a big fool.

There were 40 readers who have left comments at the time of writing this post. Following are some of comments readers have left:

Banske considers Rawlings the most deceitful and laziest Ghanaian:

Hmmmmm!!!
Kwaku Baako says Rawlings is the luckiest Ghanaian and it's true and in addition I say he is the most deceitful and laziest Ghanaian. For those of you who continue to be fooled (if is real or pretense)by the rawlingses, now that their hypocritical acts are exposed,don't you agree that he is the worst personality to have surfaced on the Ghanaian political scene?
What is he doing with the money sitting his swiss account?shameful imbecile.
He who burns a house will be consumed by fire!!!!

Anna G says:

To me, it doesn't make sense at all for the little taxpayer’s money to be used to provide accommodation for ex- presidents. In the first place, where were they sleeping before they became presidents? Look at the ridiculous things that Kuffuor proposed that should be given to him when he became e- president. To me, they are all the same: selfish, because they know very well that the tax that is collected in this country is not enough. If our politicians and leaders continue to be this selfish, then I’m afraid Ghana's bad economy will never recover and we will continue to be a third world poor country.

Frank Anderson supports Ato's position:

Ato I couldn't help but absolutely agree with you.
I find no sense in using tax payer's money in building houses for ex presidents simply because they have once been heads of state. It sucks and pathetic. And this issue has dominated public discussion for weeks? Jesus Christ!!! It is the cliche of African leaders. Even young guys at the ages of 23yrs begin thinking or taking steps to build their own homes how much more a former president. The Rawlings’ should save themselves this embarrassement and complete their own home.

Kweku Diyifo says says this is self-deception:

When I first heard Mrs. Rawlings say on radio that they are looking for a place to rent, I asked myself, “What kind of self deception is this?” After staying in power for 20 years? After paying GHC90,000 import duty on two cars, instantly? After getting friends to pay for their children's education aboroad? The list goes endless. Many Ghanaians would even believe, and rightly so, that the Rawlings have more than the two mansions they have struggled to admit they have.
I know from my little experience in business that, with their kind of influence both home and abroad, it would take just a phone call for the Rawlingses to acquire a respectable and appropriate freehold residential accomodation anywhere in Ghana. If you have and say that you do not have, that's your own problem. But I, and many like me wont be fooled.

Sero summarizes the whole issue in one word:

….in one word,rubish

2 comments

  • CAA

    they own several places. if this had been printed on paper i’d have said wasted ink!
    There are thousands of ppl (barely) living under deplorable circumstances in accra with JJ and co at least have a place to put their heads. Their marriage is their personal problem! Ghana has more urgent needs.
    If they really want a place they can use the fees they charge for public events if they like. after all his disrespectful remarks to other active and past presidents it’d not ever vote out any state servant who wastes tax money on them again.
    should ghana be rewarding him for the dead ppl in his closet too?
    enough of this circus!

  • Ghanians,
    You are a breed apart!!You have done Africa proud in so many ways, but once in a while, you amaze me. Rawlings has figured your fralings, and is feeding fat on them. This man, as an ex-president receives a monthly stippen. He has a pension, and augments that with what he looted while in office for no African rules and leaves without soiling his fingers. Not unless you are Mandela. If he believes in capitalism, then let him go buy a house or build one. Its the only way some one might get a job. He can’t continue to hide the loot. Its time he shares some. If this man were not Ghanian, he would be dead by now. I think he has over stated his worth to the people of Ghana.

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