Know Why Ghana’s 1st President & Vice Of 4th Republic JJ & Arkaah Died At The Ages Of 73.

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28 years ago, from 1992 to 2020, Ghana is enjoying democratic government. It is surprising the leaders who emerged as the first president and vice in the fourth republic of Ghana, thus, 1992, have all died bearing same age; 73.

The reasons for the president dieing with the same age could be due to inconsiderable factors which would be borne today.

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The first vice president of Ghana of the fourth republic, The Late Mr. Kow Nkensen Arkaah born on 14th July, 1927 and died on 25th April, 2001 was a Ghanaian politician who was sworn in from 1993 to 1997. He was also a chief of Senya Breku in Central Region of Ghana simultaneously.

Mr. Kow Arkaah was born on July 14, 1927 at Senya Breku in the Central Region of
Ghana who attended Mfantsipim School between 1941 and 1946, then the Achimota College, the predecessor of the University of Ghana.

He proceeded to the United States of America where he obtained his first degree at Tufts College. He then attended Harvard University where he obtained an MBA between 1952 and 1954.

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Mr. Arkaah worked as an Assistant Sales Manager of Secony Oil Corporation of New York. He later returned to Ghana. From 1954 to 1957, Mr. Arkaah worked as a Marketing Executive of the Mobil Oil Ghana Limited. For the next ten years up to 1968, Mr. Arkaah worked with the civil service, rising to become Principal Secretary between 1966 and 1968.

Mr. Arkaah was also the head of the Ghana National Trading Corporation (GNTC), a huge national trading franchise at the time, the now defunct Ghana Airways
Airline and the Ghana National Procurement Agency.

He has also worked as a consultant in the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Yugoslavia and Ethiopia.

Mr. Arkaah became the leader of the National Convention Party (NCP) prior to the 1992 Ghanaian presidential elections.

His party formed an alliance with the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Jerry Rawlings and Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere (EGLE).

As part of the deal, Mr. Kow Arkaah got to be the Vice Presidential candidate on Rawlings’ ticket. Rawlings and Arkaah had a difficult working relationship throughout their four year term. The highpoint was an alleged punch up between Rawlings and Arkaah at a cabinet meeting on December 28, 1995.

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Mr. Arkaah, who continued as Vice President of Ghana, stood against his own government in the 1996 Ghanaian presidential elections and lost.

He was replaced in the Rawlings government by Professor John Atta Mills, a law lecturer, as Rawlings’ vice president in 1997.

Mr. Arkaah later involved in a road traffic accident at Cantonments in Accra. He was left for treatment in USA and unfortunately died in the Atlanta, USA on April 25, 2001, from his injuries. In a nutshell, he lived for 73 years. Shockingly, his boss, Mr. Rawlings also departed at the age of 73.

Meanwhile Mr. Rawlings came to power in Ghana as a flight lieutenant of the Ghana Air Force following a coup d’état in 1979. Prior to that, he led an unsuccessful coup attempt against the ruling military government on 15th May, 1979, just five weeks before scheduled democratic elections were due to take place. After handing power over to a civilian government, he took back control of the country on 31st December, 1981 as the chairman of the Provisional National
Defence Council (PNDC).

In 1992, Rawlings resigned from the military, founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and became the first President of the Fourth Republic.

He was re-elected in 1996 for four more years. After two terms in office, the limit according to the Ghanaian Constitution, Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as a presidential candidate in 2000.

Jerry John Rawlings was born on 22nd June, 1947 in Accra , Ghana, to Victoria Agbotui, an Ewe from Dzelukope, Keta and James Ramsey John, a chemist from Castle Douglas in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, with descendants living in
Newcastle and London.

Rawlings attended Achimota School and a military academy at Teshie.

He joined the Ghana Air Force shortly afterwards; on his application, the military switched his surname John and his middle name Rawlings.

In March 1968, he was posted to Takoradi, in Ghana’s Western Region , to continue his studies. He graduated in January 1969, and was commissioned as a pilot officer, winning the coveted “Speed Bird Trophy” as the best cadet in flying the Su-7 ground attack supersonic jet aircraft as he was skilled in aerobatics.

He earned the rank of flight lieutenant in April 1978. During his service with the Ghana Air Force, Rawlings perceived a deterioration in discipline and morale due to corruption in the Supreme Military Council (SMC). As promotion brought him into contact with the privileged classes and their social values, his view of the injustices in society hardened.

He was thus regarded with some unease by the SMC. After the 1979 coup, he
involved himself with the student community of the University of Ghana, where he developed a more leftist ideology through reading and discussion of social and political ideas.

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1979 coup and purges Rawlings grew discontented with Ignatius Kutu Acheampong’s government, which had come to power through a coup in January 1972. Acheampong was accused not only of corruption, but also of maintaining Ghana’s dependency on pre-colonial powers, in a situation which led to economic decline and impoverishment.

Rawlings was part of the Free Africa Movement, an underground movement of
military officers who wanted to unify Africa through a series of coups.

On 15 May 1979, five weeks prior to civilian elections, Rawlings and six other soldiers staged a coup against the government of General Fred Akuffo, but failed and were arrested by the military.

Rawlings was publicly sentenced to death in a General Court Martial and imprisoned, although his statements on the social
injustices that motivated his actions won him civilian sympathy.

While awaiting execution, Rawlings was sprung from custody on 4th June, 1979 by a group of soldiers.  Claiming that the government was corrupt beyond redemption and that new leadership was required for Ghana’s development, he led the group in a coup to outs the Akuffo Government and Supreme Military Council.

Shortly afterwards, Rawlings established and became the Chairman of a 15-member Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), primarily composed of junior officers.

He and the AFRC ruled for 112 days and arranged the execution by firing squad of eight military officers, including Generals Kotei, Joy
Amedume, Roger Felli, and Utuka, as well as the three former Ghanian heads of state; Acheampong, Akuffo, and Akwasi Afrifa.

These executions were dramatic events in the history of Ghana , which had previously suffered few instances of political violence.

Rawlings later implemented a much wider “house cleaning exercise” involving the killings and abduction of over 300 Ghanaians.

Elections were held on time shortly after the coup. On 24th September, 1979, power was peacefully handed over by Rawlings to
President Hilla Limann, whose People’s National Party (PNP) had the support of Nkrumah’s followers.

Two years later, on 31st December, 1981 Rawlings ousted President Hilla Limann in a coup d’état, claiming that civilian rule was weak and the country’s economy was deteriorating.

The killings of the Supreme Court Justices (Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, Frederick Sarkodie and Kwadjo Agyei Agyepong), military officers Major Sam Acquah and Major Dasana Nantogmah also occurred during the second military rule of Rawlings.

However, unlike the 1979 executions, these persons were abducted and killed in secret and it is unclear who was behind their murders, though Joachim Amartey Kwei and four others were convicted of murdering the Justices and Acquah and were executed in 1982.

1981 coup and reforms believing the Limann regime to be unable to resolve Ghana’s neocolonial economic dependency, Rawlings led a second coup
against Limann and indicted the entire political class on 31st December, 1981.

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In place of Limann’s People’s National Party, Rawlings established the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) military junta as the official government. Rawlings hosted state visits from “revolutionaries” from other countries, including Dési Bouterse (Suriname), Daniel Ortega (Nicaragua) and Sam Nujoma (Namibia).  Elections were held in January 1992, leading Ghana back to multiparty democracy.

Mr. Rawlings established the National Commission on Democracy (NCD) shortly after the 1982 coup and employed it to survey civilian opinion and make recommendations that
would facilitate the process of democratic transition.

In March 1991, the NCD released a report recommending the election of an executive president, the establishment of a
national assembly and the creation of the post of prime minister. The PNDC used NCD recommendations to establish a committee for the drafting of a new constitution based on past Ghanaian Constitutions, that lifted the ban on political parties in May 1992 after it was approved by referendum.

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On 3rd November, 1992, election results compiled by the INEC from 200 constituencies showed that Rawlings’ NDC had won 60% of the votes and had obtained the majority needed to prevent a second round of voting.

Mr. Rawlings took office on 7th January, 1993, the same day that the new constitution came into effect and the government became known as the Fourth Republic of Ghana.

In accordance with his constitutional mandate, Rawlings’ term in office ended in 2001. He retired in 2001 and was succeeded by John Agyekum Kufuor, his main rival and opponent in 1996.

Rawlings died on 12th November, 2020 at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, a week after having been admitted for a short term illness in Ghana.

Unfortunately, his death came nearly two months after that of his mother, Victoria Agbotui, on 24th September 2020.

The end of military regime ended in 1992 and it might be God’s intervention to have gotten those two leaders, thus, Rawlings and Arkaah though they didn’t end up their services in amicable terms, they might have reasonable mission of serving Ghana and living up to 73 years.

May their souls rest well.

By Alex Konlan,

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