Jerry John Rawlings led the first coup d’état of 4th June 1979, which overthrew the regime of General Fred Akuffo, who had, in turn, deposed his predecessor, General I.K. Acheampong, in a palace coup. As a millitary leader who transitioned to become the first president of the 4th Republic of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings instituted a transition from authoritarianism to multiparty democracy and drove Ghana through the difficult years of economic recovery; and succeeded in returning to Ghanaians their national pride.
During his erra as president of Ghana, President Rawlings made remarkable achievement,s 26 of which have have been enumerated below:
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- Achieved political and economic stability in a region rife with conflicts (for example Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone).
- Created 110 districts through non-partisan district level elections. Education, infrastructure developments and healthcare all devolved to the district level. Annual government subvention by law goes to the district — unthinkable in many other African countries.
- Absorbed hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians living in Nigeria who were expelled. Housed them at El -Wak stadium in 1983 and then moved them to their family homes. Most other economies, including even advanced ones such as Germany saw their economies suffer when they reunified with integrated citizens (for example German reunification)
- Built first ever memorials to Kwame Nkrumah and W.E.B. DuBois.
- Followed an independent foreign policy
- Returned Ghana to democratic rule in 1992, after a public referendum by a wide majority approved a new constitution. Neither Nigeria, Iraq, Togo, nor Côte d’Ivoire were able to achieve this feat (in Nigeria two governments were overthrown during this period).
- Passed the value added tax (VATR of 10%) to secure government revenue base, which today funds most government public expenditures.
- Passed the Ghana Educational Trust Fund (GET Fund) that is today educating millions of Ghanaians.
- First Ghanaian President in 20 years to be received on a state visit of the US.
- Exapanded electricity to Northern parts of Ghana – hitherto ignored by ruling elites since 1957.
- Both Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth II visited Ghana during Rawlings tenure to highlight the successes of the country.
- The NDC’s agricultural policy and programme 1994-2000 resulted in the recognition of Ghana’s Food Production Index of 148% for 1995-1997 as “the third highest achievement in the record after Jordan (157%) and China (156%) in the World Bank’s “1999-2000 Development Report.”
- Contributed immensely towards dispute resolution and peace keeping in several of the unstable countries in the West African sub-region and beyond.
- Started the Expansion Project and the Renovation of the 37 Military Hospital.
- In the urban road sector, reconstructed the entire Kumasi city roads, Sekondi-Takoradi city roads and Accra city roads. In Accra, these included the six-lane dual carriage road leading to the four-lane dual carriage road from the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange to the Independence Avenue.
- Constructed the Kumasi-Sunyani asphalt road; the Kintampo-Tamale-Bolgatanga-Paga Faso asphalt road; and the double surfacing bitumen Bibiani-Awaso-Sefwi Wiawso road.
- Established the University for Development Studies, and used his Hunger Award Prize Money to buy books for the University’s Library.
- He upgraded the Winneba Advanced Teacher Training College into a full-fledged public University of Education, Winneba, thus adding two new public Universities to the three that had existed since independence.
- Introduced the policy of allowing the establishment of private tertiary institutions, including Universities, to supplement the public sector Universities. Implemented the policy of one region, one Polytechnic.
- Made sure that every district had at least two senior secondary schools.
- Constructed the modern regional hospitals at Cape Coast, Ho and Sunyani. Numerous modern district hospitals were constructed in the district capitals all over the country.
- Potable water was provided for so many communities that at the time he was leaving office, guinea worm infestation had virtually been eradicated from Ghana.
- The housing sector, the sprawling housing estates at Adenta, Sakumono, Lashibi, and on the Spintex Road all in Accra and the SSNIT Estates all over the country were constructed during His Era.
- There was the smooth, historic transfer of power from the NDC to the NPP.
- The creation of District Assemblies’ Common Fund, the GetFund, the Road Fund, the EDIF and the Energy Fund
- Ghana’s huge reputation in international peace keeping, coupled with the ability of H. E JJ Rawlings to get the illustrious son of Ghana, Kofi Annan, elected as the Secretary-General of the United Nations.