Former President Jerry John Rawlings took advantage of a withdrawal of courtesies imposed on him barely two years after he stepped down and handed over to the Kufuor government.
The measure which at the time was widely condemned, by the party he founded, helped him interface with the ordinary Ghanaian in many ways. This is according to his former special aide, Kofi Adams.
Adams, currently a lawmaker for the Buem constituency in the Oti region, made the disclosure whiles contributing to tributes to his former boss on the floor of parliament on Friday.
What Adams said of the episode.
Mr. Speaker, I have listened to the tributes and one thing that saddens me and I pray it is never done to any leader of this country is what we visited on our late former president.
Indeed, the withdrawal of courtesies, I happened to be his aide at certain time of the period when these courtesies were withdrawn and an illustrious son who we are paying tribute to today as he travelled around the world, sometimes having to carry his own bags using the ordinary route.
But actually, one thing he taught us that we must all learn is that he was really never angry. He took advantage of this attempt to humiliate him rather build good walls. The stones that were thrown at him, he used them for a solid foundation.
It gave him the opportunity to interact with the ordinary persons even as he traveled to know the understanding of situations then, he was courageous but very very humble.
Who withdrew the courtesies and how long did it last?
The courtesies were withdrawn by the then NPP government, specifically by the Foreign Affairs Minister and current president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The Ministry said in September 2002 that it turned down a request by Rawlings to grant him courtesies on a planned trip to Washington DC.
A letter dated September 11 and signed by Akufo-Addo, Foreign Minister, in response to a request made by Rawlings’ Special Assistant at the time, Victor Smith, said; “it is not possible at the moment for Government to grant the requests in your letter.”
The letter added: “It makes little sense to continue to accord courtesies to someone, who persistently refuses to reciprocate them, as his recent utterances in Nigeria vividly illustrate. Accordingly, it is not possible at the moment for the government to grant the requests in your letter”.
Four years later, in 2006; the courtesies were restored and communicated via a letter signed by Akufo-Addo. He explained that the decision was among others to improve the political ambiance at the time.
“Government is of the view 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,” Akufo-Addo said.
Typical presidential courtesies include sending officers of Ghanaian High Commissions and Embassies to the airport to meet him any time Rawlings was visiting the particular country and according to him, all the necessary courtesies given to visiting high-ranking government officials.