Jerry John Rawlings delivering the acceptance speech at the University of Education, Winneba yesterday
Former President Rawlings has descended upon President John Mahama and his appointees, criticising their opulent lifestyles and corrupt practices.
Speaking at a special congregation at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), where honorary doctorate degrees were conferred on him and two others yesterday, Mr Rawlings said ‘the unprecedented levels of corruption, offensive show of power and opulence by some at a time when our country requires prudence and frugality, is an issue that I call on President Mahama to set his eyes on.’
The honorary doctorate degree was conferred on him for the role he played in pursuing conflict resolution and peace-keeping as well as laying the foundation for the establishment of the university.
According to the former President ‘the people need to see a sign that the government is seriously committed to cleaning up its house, so they can follow suit; that is not too much to ask for.’
Apart from that, Mr Rawlings who is an apostle of probitity, accountability and social justice noted, ‘We cannot fight the various forms of corruption if we do not take on leaders and so-called untouchables who have sought to institutionalise it’, stressing on the need ‘to restore Ghana to the status of a country worth dying for.’
He stressed the need for Ghanaian leaders to learn to play by the book since ‘people with conscience are sometimes appalled by the extreme insensitivity displayed by some political appointees.’ A typical example is the lavish birthday bash organised by Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Hannah Bissiw, which was climaxed with her husband allegedly giving her a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado valued at $120,000.
For Mr Rawlings, ‘the time has come for less speech and more action; for us to look into our little areas and identify the corrupt tendencies that have metamorphosed into a national crisis and combat them.’
He therefore charged his fellow countrymen to confront their political leaders and insist on transparency, accountability, equity and fairplay, since that was their moral right and duty.
That right, he noted, ‘will have more value if we as individuals are incorruptible and conscionable’ and that ‘our society and by inference our politics will be devoid of greed and corruption if we develop a conscience as a people.’
He said the time had come for Ghanaians to take stock of the past and strategise for the future.
‘We have never paused to quantify the huge costs of such levels of indiscipline and indiscretion and until we revive our conscience and sense of individual responsibility and start policing each other, we will continue to build a tight economic and political noose round our neck,’ the former President emphasised.
Ghana, he said, was facing huge challenges economically, socially and politically. ‘Many are quick to zero in on the almost desperate economic circumstances we find ourselves in and blame government. Sadly, like the parable of the mote and beam, we have conveniently forgotten to first look for the log in our own eyes.
‘Governments are hugely responsible for the economic circumstances of the day and should always be ready to accept the challenge and work towards social and economic sustenance. I am however not confident we can achieve much if as individuals we do not tackle the level of indiscipline that is engulfing us,’ he stated.
On the ongoing debate of inclusive governance and the call for a multi-party governance review of the winner-takes-all concept, because of the bitter polarisation it cultivates, Mr Rawlings who ruled the country for close to 20 years said, ‘I have always been a firm believer in the kind of governance that is inclusive and consultative for national progress, rather than working against each other in our quest to perpetuate our stay in power or to get into power.’
This, he said, was due to the fact that ‘such tendencies breed corruption and under-development.’
Conscience, the former president said, was priceless and could not be exchanged for a pot of gold.
Mr Rawlings was honoured together with two others; former Nigerian President General Abdulsalami Abubakar and Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah, the first Vice-Chancellor of UEW.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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