Rawlings Offers Baako Hajj Ticket

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The Managing Editor of the New Crusading Guide, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako Jnr, has vouched for his arch political rival’s kind nature, revealing that President, Jerry John Rawlings, had offered to sponsor him to the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca to become an Alhaji.

“I am not exactly an anti-Rawlings person. I detest his politics. But he is a very nice person socially,” Kweku Baako, said on Joy FM’s political affairs programme Newsfile last Saturday.

“I am told recently he even told [personal assistant] Kofi Adams to ensure that I got a ticket to go to Mecca,” the Muslim journalist revealed.

Mr. Rawlings, has for year tasted the political cum journalistic venom of Mr. Baako. He was called names such as “lunatic”, described as a “walking illegality” and was many times under the Kufuor era, threatened to be “stripped naked” by the journalist.

Indeed, during the Kufuor period, Mr. Baako and Gabby Asare-Otchere Darko of Statesman newspaper and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), were sponsored by the Kufuor administration to Norway to dig up facts on claims that Mr. Rawlings and the late P.V. Obeng, had been bribed by Scancem International, the parent company of Ghanaian cement producer, Ghacem.

Mr. Rawlings’ wife, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, has also been at the firing range of the onetime “Journalist of The Year”, with claims of drugs deals and shoddy business interests in Switzerland made against her.

But it appears that all the bitterness has been left in the past, as age has brought in maturity and fellow-feeling to both men.

Mr. Baako’s comment was a preface to his main contribution as he prepared to discuss former President Jerry John Rawlings’ recent, but predictable attack against the government during a ceremony to confer on him an honorary doctorate by the University of Education, Winneba, last Thursday.

“For him to have thought of me in that sense, that is a nice person I do not hate Rawlings.”

It is not clear if Baako actually received the ticket.

Kweku Baako, a ‘licensed’ critic of the Rawlings’, had had occasion to describe the former president in very harsh terms, as often as Rawlings makes public statements

He has branded the former president a ‘licensed irritant” and an incoherent person.

But on June 4 of every year, which was once a national holiday under President Rawlings’ tenure, is a special occasion for an anti-Rawlings rant.

The day, which marked the overthrow of a military government was struck out as a holiday, when President John Kufuor assumed the reins of government in 2001

Baako, a key activist in the June 4, 1979 uprising has said that Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, murdered the principles of June 4 and should be lucky he is still alive.

Nonetheless, Kweku Baako said, times are easing his radical posture towards Rawlings, who he had accused of putting him and Kwesi Pratt in cells many times, and torturing them.

“As we are all growing, everybody is becoming moderate about some of these things.”
The managing Editor, later reiterated his dislike for what he describes the politics of ex-President Rawlings.

He said, former President’s continuous criticism of successive governments for their supposed inaction in the fight against corruption is unfair.

”…People with conscience are sometimes appalled by the extreme insensitivity displayed by some political appointees. The unprecedented levels of corruption, offensive show of power and opulence by some at a time when our country requires prudence and frugality is something that I call on President Mahama and his vice to set their eyes on,’’ he said.

According to the National Democratic Congress (NDC) founder, the corruption canker cannot be dealt with if, “we do not take on leaders and so-called untouchables’’.

“We need to restore Ghana to a status of a country worth dying for,” he added.

“What did Mr. Rawlings do to cure the situation?, Mr. Baako asked.

Mr. Baako, who is known for critiquing the former president, was, however ,quick to add:,“I do not hate Rawlings; I detest his politics.”

“I am told that he asked Kofi Adams to make sure I got a ticket to Mecca. For him to have thought of me in that manner shows that he’s a good man,” he added.

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