It is generally called ‘Rawlings treatment ‘.
If you ever wondered what some Nigerian activists and commentators meant by that, here is a clue: it is not a medical treatment. It is not a pedicure either.
On June 4, 1979, a group of soldiers smuggled Jerry John Rawlings, a flight lieutenant in the Ghana Air Force, out of prison — where he was awaiting execution for a failed coup — and announced the overthrow of Fred Akuffo, the military head of state.
Rawlings, a junior officer, went on to rule for just 112 days before handing over power to a democratically elected government.
By then, though, he had executed, by firing squad, eight military officers, including three former heads of state — Akwasi Afrifa, Ignatius Kutu Acheampong and Akuffo — for “corruption”. Keeping them alive, he argued, meant they would continue to destabilise and corrupt the system because of their influence.
For a long time, the agitation in Nigerian radical circles — where Rawlings was held in high esteem — was that the “corrupt” Nigerian political class needed to undergo “the Rawlings treatment” if the country would ever move forward.
Nigeria is now a democracy and military coups are increasingly a thing of the past, but Rawlings is still held in high esteem among those who supported his “revolutionary” stint in the country’s West African neighbours.
All Rawlings ever wanted to do was tackle corruption.
Restless, Rawlings was back again in December 1981, less than three years after, with another coup to kick out Limann, whom he accused of allowing corruption to fester.
“They were a pack of criminals who bled Ghana to the bone,” said Rawlings in a broadcast on Accra Radio, January 1, 1982.
”I am prepared at this moment to face a firing squad if what I try to do for the second time in my life does not meet the approval of Ghanaians,” he continued, adding that his team would ”clean up corruption. By God or the Devil.”
For him, it was nothing more than to re-organise Ghana.
Rawlings remained in office for 11 years, and then transmuted into a democratically elected president in January 1993 on the platform of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), a political party he founded. He served as president for two terms of eight years, and bowed out in January 2001.