The leader of the June 4 1979 uprising, former President Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings has decried the spate of corruption that has characterised the political climate over the past few years describing it as a thousand times more than what prevailed prior to the June 4 uprising.
The former President said: “If we are unable to restore a firm measure of integrity into our dealings, then the blood of many would have been shed in vain.”
Speaking at a well-attended June 4th anniversary durbar in the Upper West regional capital, Wa, Flt Lt Rawlings said there had been times in the past when he had felt like “booting” the NDC and moving on but the plight of the good people in the party had held him at bay.
“Such a departure will allow the agents of greed, and avarice and dishonesty to further deepen their claws on you and the party. We squandered many opportunities to clean up and to restore the June 4th principles in the party,” the leader of the revolution stated.
The founder of the NDC said the party lost the 2016 elections because it betrayed the values of June 4. He stated that if the blame game cannot be resolved conclusively, then parties have to step aside and allow for fresh leaders with solid integrity to provide the needed leadership.
“If we cannot get our claws off and allow for fresh leadership to emerge then we shall sink further,” he added.
Former President Rawlings said very cruel insults and humiliations had been designed and are still being designed to shed off any influence that he still commands in the NDC, a party that was built on the principles of June 4.
Flt Lt Rawlings who spoke from both a prepared speech as well as extempore said so much fire was burning inside him but confessed that he had been compelled to hold back by some leading members of the party who feared his heavy criticism will affect the party adversely after a bad electoral defeat.
He did not hesitate to lay the blame for the loss on the failure of the leadership in both party and government to listen to the admonishment that there were serious issues affecting the way the country was being managed.
“Your ears were blocked…you wouldn’t listen…when you got kicked out, disgraced…that’s when I thought now you will listen,” Mr. Rawlings said.
The former President called on party faithful to be wary of activities of some elements in the NDC so they do not perpetrate political fraud on the party.
Touching on the unfortunate lynching of Capt. Mahama at Denkyira Boase last week, Flt Lt Rawlings said, “the dastardly, wicked, irrational and needless murder constrains me so much”. He was unhappy that the spate of attacks on thieves and other vulnerable people had taken a life of its own and called for serious attention to rid the country of such acts.
“How merciless, how cruel can we be?” the former President asked.
Other speakers at the event included, former party Vice Chairman, Alhaji Hudu Yahaya, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, Rashid Pelpuo, MP for Wa Central and Madam Ebi Bright, NDC Parliamentary candidate for Tema Central in 2016.
Earlier in the day a parade and wreath laying ceremony was held to honour the fallen heroes.
Please find below the full text of the former President’s address.
The Waa Naa, Naa Fuseini Seidu Pelpuo,
Distinguished Traditional Leaders,
Leading members of the NDC,
The proud people of Wa and sympathisers drawn from the length and breadth of the country;
Thank you for your warm welcome since I arrived in Wa yesterday. The reception has been exceptional and charged.
My special gratitude goes to Naa Fuseini Seidu Pelpuo and the Upper West Regional House of Chiefs for the warm reception at the Palace and the honour done me with the enskinment as the Gbagala Pie Na, a title that signifies the very spiritual and unifying essence of Wa as a Kingdom.
The massive presence here during the season of the Ramadan fasting is indicative of the fact that the people of Wa still appreciate the true values of June 4 and uphold it with great pride.
Ladies and Gentlemen; I am greatly pained by the events of the past few days. The dastardly, wicked, irrational and needless murder of Captain Maxwell Mahama constrains me so much.
Nonetheless I will share a few thoughts about the very importance of June 4 and most especially remind us of the underlining values and principles which guided the popular uprising.
The principles of June 4 are not alien or has never been alien to mankind. They are no different from the most basic religious or human values. Probity, accountability and social justice would on any day liberate the overwhelming majority of our people from the bondage or difficulties they find themselves in.
The fight against corruption, greed and avarice has however been at great cost.
Noble soldiers have died; noble civilians have died for it and so many of the noble ones have suffered and continue to suffer all kinds of indignities for their principles and convictions. Together with my wife, we have faced the most unimaginable consequences trying to protect and defend these principles.
Very cruel insults and humiliations have been designed and are still being designed to shed off any influence that I may still command even in the political party that was founded and built on the principles that guided June 4.
To the comrades whose tenacity has provided the voice of conscience within this country and the NDC, I am profoundly grateful. There have been times in the past when I felt like booting this party and moving on; the only thing that has however prevented me from doing so is the plight the remaining good people would face.
Such a departure will allow the agents of greed, and avarice and dishonesty to further deepen their claws on you and the party. We squandered many opportunities to clean up and to restore the June 4th principles in the party.
I want to remind people that we could not have possibly forgotten that Generals were executed. The greed, corruption and injustice of today is a thousand times more than what these Generals were executed for and if we are unable to restore a firm measure of integrity into our dealings, then the blood of many would have been shed in vain.
If we cannot get our claws off and allow for fresh leadership to emerge then we shall sink further. Not too long ago I thought we heard the jockeys claiming the horses were responsible for this disgraceful failure while one of the horses was bold enough to lay the failure at the door step of the jockeys. For me, we lost our masses because we betrayed the values of June 4. However if this horse – jockey business cannot be resolved comprehensively, allowing integrity to prevail, then let both of them step aside and allow for fresh leaders with solid integrity to provide the needed leadership.
Let us endeavour to stand by the truth and restore and instill the values of June 4 in our country’s culture.
Ladies and gentlemen; yesterday when I paid a courtesy call on the Wa Naa and members of the Regional House of Chiefs I called for unity and peace in your communities. This morning the President of the Queenmothers reiterated that call by pleading for peace to guarantee development. Most of you are not unaware of the simmering undercurrents within your communities. Do not allow differences that can be resolved with consultation and compromise to degenerate into bitterness and potential conflict.
This call is not unique to only Wa and its related communities. This is a call to the whole country. Quite a number of lives have been lost in the recent past due to our failure to resolve our differences and an increasing canker of intolerance. Ghana prides itself in the peaceful co-existence of persons of diverse, ethnic, religious and political persuasions and we cannot allow that reputation to be compromised.
Distinguished Traditional leaders, and all gathered here today; Ghana needs us to stand up for what is right, just and positive for our growth and development. The socio political development of Ghana is dependent on our consistency in defending the ideals of truth, integrity, probity and accountability. Let that be our guiding principle in everything we do.
I thank you so much for your presence and goodwill and wish you all the best in all your endeavours.