Saved by COVID-19

A look at the title of this peace would set minds wondering as to how a deadly pandemic could be a saviour of some sort. In this country handshakes between certain individuals have been of immense interest on account of certain perceived friction between the people involved. 

Many years ago Sarfo Gyamfi, then a player of Kumasi Asante Kotoko, refused to shake hands with the Head of State, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, who was shaking hands with players shortly before a football match. 

It became a big issue and was the topic for discussion in the media space.  I think the player as well as his team later apologised for the embarrassment caused the head of state.

It is an open secret that there is no love lost between the former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings, and Mr Asiedu Nketia, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress. 

People were, therefore, looking forward to an encounter between Mr Asiedu Nketia and Mrs Agyemang-Rawlings. The expected handshake was as a result of the sad passing of the former President and husband of Nana Konadu Agyemang, Jerry John Rawlings. 

The custom of the land demands that people go to greet the bereaved when a spouse passes on and since the former President was the founder of the NDC, it was expected that the leadership of the NDC will go to express their condolences to the spouse of their founder.

The conflicts that have led to the rifts between those people that have become issues of public concern or interest are generally political in nature. 

The handshake that people were really looking forward to but may not likely happen was the one between Asiedu Nketia and Mrs Agyemang-Rawlings due to the peculiar personal and political nature.  A bit of background story would put things in perspective.

It was the former President who brought Asiedu Nketia into the lime light after the formation of the NDC Party. He favoured him and Asiedu Nketia became close to the former President and his family. It is an open secret that the former President respected a lot the advice of his wife and if you were in the good books of the former First Lady, you were automatically in the good books of the former President. 

Asiedu Nketia benefitted immensely in the political arena within the NDC resulting in his becoming the General Secretary of the NDC.  All was well between General Mosquito, as the General Secretary is affectionately called in the political arena and Mrs Agyemang-Rawlings until the primaries for the selection of a flag bearer for the NDC was announced and late President Mills decided to seek the mandate of the delegates to lead the party to contest the 2012 elections. 

Some members of the party felt the late President Mills, then the incumbent President must be allowed to go unopposed since if contested, it would be a message to the electorate that, indeed, the late President was underperforming as claimed by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). 

They feared it would lead to a loss of the election to the NPP in the 2012 elections.  Asiedu Nketia then the General Secretary, was with that school of thought. Unfortunately, Mrs Agyemang-Rawlings felt it was time for her to realise her political ambitions and, therefore, decided to contest the incumbent at the primaries. 

The majority of the party, led by Asiedu Nketia, fearing the loss of the 2012 elections, tried to persuade the former First Lady but to no avail. That was the beginning of serious problems between Asiedu Nketia and Mrs Agyemang-Rawlings.

Then came the primaries at the Sunyani Stadium for delegates to select who was to become the flag bearer going into the 2012 elections and all hell broke loose.  As the former First Lady and her husband, late former President Rawlings, entered the arena where the voting was to take place, the delegates not on their side started hooting at them and they were subjected to an embarrassing moments at the place. 

Needless to say, the former First Lady was defeated at the elections and late President Mills became the NDC flag bearer. This embarrassment led to the former First Lady parting ways with the NDC and forming her own party, the National Democratic Party (NDP). Some members of the NDC also left to join her in the NDP. 

The last straw to break the camel’s back was when after the elections, Asiedu Nketia commented that the barking dog had been tamed in obvious reference to the former President. The animosity then reached its peak and from then on there was no love lost between Asiedu Nketia and the Rawlingses.

There have been handshake encounters between the former First Lady and former President Mahama which had been speculated by observers to be tension packed and not been the usual cordial greetings with smiles. 

People are looking forward to see what would happen when Asiedu Nketia who had “betrayed” the trust of the Rawlingses and even referred to her husband in derogatory terms, encounters Mrs Agyemang-Rawlings; but we may never know due to the no handshake regime currently prevailing as part of the COVID-19 prevention protocol.  Asiedu Nketia must surely be thanking and saying to himself “Thank you COVID-19.”

By Laud Kissi-Mensah

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