Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings was last Wednesday honoured by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA) at a ceremony hosted by President Denis Sassou Nguesso in Brazzaville, Congo.
President Rawlings and his compatriot, General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria were presented with honorary diplomas by Congolese President, Nguesso.
The citation read: “The present Honorary Diploma is issued in recognition of the outstanding services rendered to the cause of decentralisation, the unity of local governments in Africa and to the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa “UCLG-Africa”.
President Rawlings dedicated the honour to all those who had committed themselves to “develop effective and truly representative local government authority on the continent.”
The former President said, “Local government, when well structured encourages a higher social sense of responsibility, guards against local conflict and leads to a better protection of valuable local resource.
“Today we talk of regional integration, a unified continent and globalisation. These processes can only work and be successful if they are augmented by a well-grounded local government structure that ensures that our people do not feel that political authority and decision-making is now even more distant and only vested in a central authority that may even be far from the original geographical boundaries of our individual states.
“Leaders of our local authorities have an important role to play in ensuring that their actions reflect the true desires and commitment of the people”.
President Rawlings said Africa is faced with several challenges. “Today we still have conflict of both ethnic and political origin, but we can confront these challenges if we allow a more decentralised system of governance, which offers true opportunities for all our citizens to contribute their quota towards national decision-making.
“We need to embrace community values and move away from the hollow values of selfish individualism. There is a great deal we can achieve and offer as a continent and those of us who have the mandate of the people should always be ready to lead by example.”
President Rawlings who returned to Accra on Thursday left for South Korea on the same day to deliver a keynote address at the World Summit of the Universal Peace Federation, which takes place from February 22 to 25 in Seoul. President Rawlings will address the Summit on Africa and the Middle East.