Former President Jerry John Rawlings
Former President Jerry John Rawlings has told a Nigerian newspaper, the Vanguard , in an interview that Ghanaians are unable to afford the high cost of food in the country.
He granted the interview during a recent visit to Africa’s most populous country to join other distinguished political and military figures to commemorate the 70 th birthday of the country’s former Foreign Affairs Minister and Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief Tom Ikimi in Edo State.
Two former Nigerian Heads of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, led other Nigerian and African leaders to the septuagenarian’s birthday.
Mr. Rawlings recalled his days at the helm, especially during the country’s putsch in 1979 with relish, pointing out that in those days, although things were terrible and there was no food for the people, the situation was unlike it is today. Today though there is food this is beyond the reach of the people, he said.
‘In my country in 1979, there was no food in the market, things were very terrible. But today there is food in the market but people cannot afford it,’ he said in an attempt to avoid putting the government of the day in a negative light.
These days the former president, known for his vociferousness on national issues, is less so, as compared to previous years.
Jerry John Rawlings and Nigerian President Good Luck Jonathan
This was evidenced from his measured discussion about Ghana as guest of the Vanguard newspaper, one of the leading newspapers in that country.
His diagnosis of the Ghanaian situation in the face of prohibitive cost of food items on the market ties in with the position of commentators in the media about the high cost of living in the country, something dictated by the dwindling value of the Cedi and a restive economy.
He had words of admonition for his hosts regarding Nigeria’s most difficult security challenge yet – the menace of Boko Haram – when he told them that regardless of the threat, they should not look outwards for a solution.
Nigeria, he said, must resist the temptation to have foreign nations intervene in the Boko Haram war, adding that ‘the war on terror would be won if all Nigerians work in unity.’
According to him, ‘Nigeria’s political might is about 35 per cent in Africa and that is why Nigeria must show the way in leading Africa. The way the world is going, Nigeria must not suffer vulnerability or others will take advantage of the problem.’
Continuing, he said, ‘The thing should not be left for government alone but the society must begin to examine itself, come together, strategize together, otherwise ladies and gentlemen, we may not be able to handle this problem today or tomorrow.’
Mr. Rawlings used the occasion to once more stamp his Catholicism when he told the newspaper, ‘Chief (the septuagenarian) made a promise in the house of God today when he said he will try to live the rest of his life as a good Catholic. And one of the things I learnt as a Catholic is that Jesus laid down his life so that the rest of us can live forever in what we believe in.’
By A.R. Gomda
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