President Akufo-Addo and the late former President Jerry John Rawlings had not always been the best of friends from the very beginning.
As rightly put by the President during the visit of the Rawlings family to the Jubilee House to inform him of the demise of the statesman, he stated that, “He and I had a tempestuous relationship in over many many years. But I believe that we came to see value in each other – that’s how I put it – at the end.”
In 1995, during the tenure of late former President Jerry John Rawlings, a younger Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in the company of Dr Charles Wereko Brobbey, Kwasi Pratt Jnr, Dr Nyarko Tamakloe, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, Akoto Ampaw, Victor Newman, Kwaku Opoku, and Napoleon Abdulai and about a 100,000 Ghanaians took to the streets in the ‘Kume Preko’ demonstration of 1995.
The anti-government protest took place in opposition to the Value Added Tax (VAT) initiative which was introduced under the Jerry John Rawlings administration.
It is said to have been one of the biggest protests ever organised in the country, with an estimated 100,000 people participating.
The demonstration was initially billed as a peaceful protest but quickly became violent when unidentified assailants shot live bullets into the crowd resulting in the deaths of a few protestors.
In the aftermath of the demonstration, some of the leading protestors – Nana Akufo-Addo, Charles Wereko-Brobby, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Akoto Ampaw and Napoleon Abdulai wrote a book “Ghana: The Kume Preko demonstrations: Poverty, Corruption and the Rawlings Dictatorship”.
Later in 2002, the ruling New patriotic Party (NPP) with Akufo-Addo as Foreign Minister withdrew the privileges of the former President Jerry John Rawlings citing extreme provocation and ‘unguided utterances’ as the main reasons.
This followed explosive utterances from the former President against the Kuffuor administration.
However, in 2006, government restored the protocol courtesies with Foreign Minister Akufo-Addo stating that “the time is now ripe to restore these courtesies in the expectation that this gesture will help not only to reinforce the dignity of the status of a former President of Ghana but also to improve the political atmosphere in the country.”
However, in recent years the once tempestuous relationship of the duo took a turn for the better; perhaps the “we came to see value in each other” moment the President spoke about.
Jerry John Rawlings had once said of Akufo-Addo during one of his public speeches that “at least this current man is cultured. I don’t love him but he is one of the very few cultured ones”.
“The current president has given the opportunity to more women more than we have done in the past years. He (President Akufo-Addo) is a good man” he added.
He had also showered glowing praise on Akufo-Addo following his appointment of Martin Amidu as Special Prosecutor.
He said the president made a ‘wise’ decision in appointing Mr. Amidu whom he described as the best choice for the job.
Thus it comes as no surprise when President Akufo-Addo says “I’m extremely disturbed and saddened by his passage.”