Former President Jerry John Rawlings has called for pragmatic and conscious efforts towards rescuing the country from deep-seated corruption which has permeated all sectors of the society.
He said the depth of corruption and other forms of crimes were so deep in the country that “as a country, we should not take things for granted, but rather draw useful lessons from the revolutionary period to do things right to bring relief to Ghanaians”.
Addressing the 38th commemoration of the 31st December Revolution at the Winneba Lorry Park in the Effutu Municipality in the Central Region last Tuesday, Mr Rawlings said “we should not fool our ourselves into thinking that nothing will happen, but rather we must be guided by history as a country and work towards improving the quality of life of the people”.
This year’s celebration, which was dubbed: “Monetisation of elections in Ghana: a threat to national development and genuine democracy” was graced by former President John Dramani Mahama and some former government appointees, members of the United Cadre Front, parliamentary candidates in the region, and some former National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag-bearer aspirants.
Notable among them were Professor Joshua Alabi, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Mr Sylvester Mensah, who all aspired to lead the party into the 2020 general election; former Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor; a former Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Mr Akwasi Oppong-Fosu; a former Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr Victor Smith; the National Chairman of the NDC, Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo; and other national, regional and constituency executives.
As part of the ceremony, Mr Abaka Quansah, a former Deputy Secretary of Information under the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), laid the wreath on behalf of the people of Ghana.
That of the security services was laid by Warrant Officer Christopher Hammond, the Central Regional NDC Chairman, Mr Ebenezer K.T. Addo laid that of the cadre corps. Nana Otubua Siripi II laid one on behalf of traditional rulers while John Otoo and Jessie Adams laid wreaths on behalf of farmers/fishermen and the youth.
Against the practice since former President Rawlings exited power in 2000, he did not personally light the perpetual flame but rather handed the responsibility to Brigadier General Joseph Nunoo-Mensah (retd), an indigene of Winneba, who carried out the task in the company of the wife of the Tufohene of Effutu Traditional Area, Nana Otubua Siripi II.
According to a former Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Koku Anyidoho, the objective formed part of the participatory approach to governance and people empowerment in accordance with the cardinal principles of the 31st December 1981 Revolution.
As part of the ceremony, the two Asafo companies in the town, Tuafo Number One and Dentsefo Number Two, presented a warrior’s smock and whip to Mr Rawlings and conferred on him the chieftaincy title Nenyi Okogyeaman I.
Mr Rawlings noted that countries such as France and Russia used to have kings and queens but they were swept away by revolts in their respective countries, adding that England learnt lessons from such countries to reform towards the transformation of the nation.
“In our case, we won’t look up to France or Russia but rather look at our own history since we have tasted it before and it would have been worse if we had lost control over it,” he stated.
He added that we should not take chances as a country but rather stop all forms of corrupt activities that led to the 1979 uprising and 1981 revolution.
Touching on the theme, the General Secretary of the NDC, John Asiedu Nketia, called for the strengthening of the law on political party financing since the current law was too vague and contributing to the monetisation of politics in the country.
He said the law must be made holistic to cover candidates, and gave a limit as to how much an aspirant could spend when seeking for political power and afterwards the accounts made public so as to put an end to the monetisation of politics in Ghana.
He called for a revisit of the issue of state funding for political parties that would ensure that the Electoral Commission was provided with sufficient funding by the government to enable them to run internal elections for political parties free of charge.
The flag bearer and leader of the NDC, Mr Mahama, said there was growing despondency among the citizenry and mistrust of political leadership, calling the situation a threat to Ghana’s fledgling democracy.
He said monetisation had made politics more expensive, fuelling corruption.
He called on Ghanaians to uphold the principles of probity and accountability to deal with monetisation in local politics.
The Central Regional Youth Organiser of the NDC, Mr Eric Dadson, appealed to former President Rawlings to come on board and support the youth to rescue the nation from the underperforming New Patriotic Party government.