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Rawlings: We Have To Fight Corruption Together

Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings says Ghanaians need to wake up to the reality that they have collectively played a role in the re-introduction of corruption into the country’s social fabric.

He said though people seem to be very much aware of the danger corruption poses to our society they “tend to do very little about it”.

“As a society we have to accept that we have allowed ourselves to be part of this cancer that is eating away our moral fabric. Corruption is now neck-deep and is practiced by most individuals.”

President Rawlings who delivered the keynote address at the annual Samanpid festival of the people of the Bawku Traditional Area last Sunday, stated that society has to wake up and act now by re-introducing sound ethical and moral values.

The former President said: “Our leaders, from the President, his ministers and government appointees at all sectors have to live by example. The talk shop has to stop and visible action taken to prove to the rest of society that we are tackling the canker with seriousness.”

President Rawlings also described some of President Mahama’s appointees as not good enough and called a better selection when the time for a review of appointees is due.

“Some are the best and some are okay but I think it is important he makes a better selection next time when he wants to do something about his government because when you have people who are not good enough your government looks vulnerable.”

Touching on peace in the Bawku Traditional Area, President Rawlings said lasting peace could be achieved if the people desisted from living in an atmosphere of mistrust and refusal to accept each other as brothers and sisters.

President Rawlings said he was disappointed to hear that the President’s original nominee for the DCE in the area, a Mamprusi was rejected in favour of a Kusasi. This he noted does not augur well for peaceful and productive co-existence as majority of leading officials from within the area were Kusasis. “You marry and co-habit with Mamprusis so how can you not allow that to feature in the appointment of the District Chief Executive?” he queried.

He called on the people of Dagbon to put pressure on President Mahama to thoroughly investigate the Yaa Naa issue and bring the perpetrators to book.

“We seem to have gone quiet on the Yaa Naa issue perhaps because the President is our brother and we need to give him the peace of mind. But he being your brother is more the reason why you should put pressure on him,” President Rawlings said.

The former President said, “I am pursuing this matter because the course of justice must be treated with such sanctity that nobody should think that they can do what they have done and get away with it. If we do not do it now we may be losing a fine opportunity to expose some elements in this society who have done grievous wrongs for too long.”

President Rawlings reiterated his assertion that corruption had become endemic because of the failure of the Mills administration to check the many excesses of the previous NPP administration.

He said: “When you refuse to do anything about corruption or injustice that corruption or injustice perpetuates itself. It is the law of nature.”

Please find below the full text of President Rawlings’ address. Please note that he also spoke extempore at the event.


– BAWKU, DECEMBER 29, 2013

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for inviting me to share this special occasion with you. The Samanpid festival is aimed at fostering unity within your community.

It is therefore heart-warming that you have once again congregated here to celebrate the festival, which also climaxes your food harvest season.

I have on numerous occasions called for lasting peace here because I know you are brothers and sisters who deserve to live in harmony and on an occasion such as this, I cannot help but reiterate that call.

The incidents of March 2002 are events that still leave a sour taste in our mouths and which require thorough investigation and genuine answers aimed at seeking a lasting solution.

President Mahama earlier this year promised his government’s commitment to seeking lasting peace in Bawku and other strife-stricken areas. He can only succeed if we are ready to cooperate in exposing the truth and exorcising the demons that continue to confront us.

The President can only succeed if we continually remind him of his responsibilities towards our people – if we continue to goad him to keep his promises of seeking lasting peace and development within your communities.

Ladies and gentlemen, peace can never be achieved here if you still live in an atmosphere of complete mistrust and refuse to accept each other us brothers and sisters. Government has a responsibility to play its role in unravelling the root causes of the unfortunate incidents of 2002. But you the people have a bigger responsibility to accept to live together in harmony devoid of suspicions and enmity.

The level of mistrust inherent in your communities has stunted development and led to a situation where farming, trading and the rearing of livestock has reduced to the barest minimum leading to low productivity and lack of socio-economic development. This has to change and I call on opinion leaders in the community to lead the call for a change of approach especially in the minds of the energetic youth of the community. Their energies can be channelled into economic activities that will lead to the socio-economic benefit of the Bawku Traditional Area.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thirty-two years ago a revolutionary wave swept across the country and brought in its wake a sense of national purpose and responsibility. Ghanaians once again embraced patriotism and fought with their lives to bring the country back onto its feet after facing huge challenges including a debilitating famine and the deportation of over one million of our compatriots from Agege as Nigeria was then referred to.

Ghana saw huge socio-economic and socio-political development that is unsurpassed in the nation’s history. Our relative political stability from 1981 till today is because you the people of Ghana took your destiny into your hands and decided that you were going to thread a path of development that was fashioned on the principles of probity, accountability, freedom and justice.

The core tenet of these values was a society that was intolerant of corruption and keen on maintaining transparent values in all its dealings.

As I have said on several forums before, I am extremely disappointed that the culture of brazen corruption once again threatens to engulf and swallow our country.

More disheartening is the fact that we as a people seem to be very much aware of the danger corruption poses but tend to do very little about it.

As a society we have to accept that we have allowed ourselves to be part of this cancer that is eating away our moral fabric. Corruption is now neck-deep and is practiced by most individuals. We are quick to pay bribes to fast track all manner of processes. We are quick to bring our family links to bear on government appointees to offer us jobs or contracts. We are quick to use our party identity card to hold sway over that job that we are poorly equipped for, while the more competent non-card holder stays jobless?

Our society needs to wake up and act now. Let us re-introduce sound ethical and moral values into society. Events such as this should be used as an opportunity to inculcate positive values into our communities, especially the youth who are our leaders of tomorrow.

Our leaders, from the President, his ministers and government appointees at all sectors have to live by example. The talk shop has to stop and visible action taken to prove to the rest of society that we are tackling the canker with seriousness.

We cannot classify ourselves as a serious country when workers clamour for competitive wages but spend less than the required hours at work. We cannot be serious when half of Ghana travels through the airport VVIP lounge and every staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs automatically accords himself VVIP status. We cannot be serious when aircrafts can be on ground at the Kotoka International Airport for one hour without a parking bay or passengers have to wait over two hours for their luggage after arrival. We certainly cannot be a serious country when a refuse truck spills rubbish on the street and makes no effort to salvage the unfortunate dumping.

The list is endless, my dear brothers and sisters. Let us wake up and stand up for the truth, integrity, justice and forthrightness. Let us not be afraid to confront our demons and exorcise them. Ghana is the only country we have and we cannot beat our chest and claim we are proud of where we find ourselves today. The buck stops with you not the other person. Play your part and let me play mine so together we can rid this country of the delicate situations it finds itself.

Naba Asigri Abugrago Azoka, Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen: Thank you once again for inviting me home to share in your festivities. I pray that this celebration goes to strengthen the spirit of peace and unity your community needs to enhance socio-economic development.

I take this opportunity to wish the people of Bawku and all Ghanaians a fruitful New Year.

Thank you.

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