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Uneducated citizenry is like a pitch any game can be played on it. Illiteracy is what has given the politicians in Ghana the chance to fool so many people for so a long a time.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Statement: All that Jerry Rawlings said at Aflao

Ex-President J.J. Rawlings
Ex-President J.J. Rawlings

Torgbuiwo, Mamawo, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen it is a great honour to be invited as guest of honour for today’s special celebration of the Godigbe Festival.

Aflawus have a rich history. The Godigbe serves as a rich reminder of your journey through Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Togo and Benin.

On a lighter side when I realised the kind of journey the Aflawu’s had embarked on to reach the present location I said to myself where next? It is not difficult to enter the border and cross over to Cameroun for instance.

It is important that our people recognise and remember their rich history. Unfortunately many educated adults in Ghana have no clue about the rich cultural history of their families, ethnic groups and hometowns.

This lack of knowledge has led to a level of disinterest in traditional issues by most of our people sometimes leading to the loss of identity and development of localities such as Aflao.

It is heart-warming to note that despite the diverse cultural influences that have affected Aflao as a border town the unique cultural identity of the indigenous people has been maintained and today serves as a great example of that.

Ladies and gentlemen I have heard everyone speak and praises heaped on my dear wife and I for developmental initiatives that took place during my era as head of state and President of Ghana.

The true gratitude should go to the patriotic people of Ghana who identified with the ideals of probity, accountability and power to the people and held hands to join us towards national development.

The period between 1982 and 2000 had some very trying times for our country’s development. From drought to famine to lack of electricity due to the long drought, Ghanaians accepted the challenge and today our country is recognised by many as an example of a people’s ability to survive the impossible.

Ladies and gentlemen, the ideals of June 4 and 31st December must not be forgotten. That era re-shaped our country and brought back the sense of identity that has now ensured that today Ghana has a level of political stability that is envied by many across the continent and beyond.

Many claim they are the true democrats but when they had the opportunity to rule this country they abused the power and inflicted great damage on our political and economic development. Today the story is different but our political leaders dare not fail the people.

We have ministers, members of parliament and leading business people here today. I caution you not to forget that real power always belongs to the ordinary people of Ghana. If you sit in your offices and forget this simple admonishment and assume that real power is vested in you, then you will be taking away the will of the people and losing touch with reality.

It is always important that we appreciate the various channels of communication that we have with the people through Torgbuiwo, Mamawo, unit committees, district assemblies and town hall meetings. Let us as representatives of the people always recognise that we are servants and we have to deliver on our mandate to serve the people.

I am harping on these points and once again I am happy there are some political leaders here. Ghanaians are expectant on issues such as corruption and abuse of power. Ghanaians expect to see justice because the past eight years was fraught with high levels of fraud, Ghanaians expect to see real change because there are too many criminals still occupying important positions of power and Ghanaians expect to see that happen NOW!

This government is almost one year in power and the energy and excitement that greeted its victory in the last elections have all dissipated. Our people may be quiet, but there is a lot of seething anger and dissatisfaction about the manner we have accepted what we inherited and sometimes we seem to embrace that with open arms.

Our national assets were looted and profitable state institutions like the airports and ports were virtually sold out in bizarre deals to political friends and cronies. We cannot sit behind the excuse of justice grinding slowly and allow the rot turn into an unbearable stench that will engulf our country.

I wish to take this opportunity to caution members of the NDC who are gradually bringing the sanctity and moral integrity of the party into disrepute by attempting to skew the polling station and constituency elections in their favour. There are reports of potential contestants being denied access to forms rendering them automatically ineligible to contest these positions. Some I hear are offering inducements such as money and cutlasses and using party machinery to undue advantage. The NDC was built on a principle of fairness and equality. Let us not copy negative traits, which are alien to our party and a characteristic trait of a party we all know of.

Many wonder why as founder of the NDC I publicly criticise my own party and its current leadership. I do so because that is the beauty of our party. It belongs to all and when we have matters on our chest we need not hide behind closed doors to make that clear.

I do not have any desire to usurp the presidency, as many distorted minds tend to state in the media. I receive loads of messages and calls from across the country daily about how the people are disenchanted, about how they see no change and see the current government as an extension of the previous. The people are worried about the lack of communication and call on government to enhance its machinery so they can at least understand why the wheels of justice are grinding at snail pace. If we do not respond to the call of the people we have failed them.

Ladies and gentlemen, I implore every single individual here to appreciate the fact that they have a role to play in national development. We have to help our political leaders succeed by stating our developmental concerns through various forums. We need not wait for our members of parliament or other political leaders to pay visits before highlighting such issues.

We have to keep government on its toes through petitions, public statements and even direct contact at all levels. Let us be clear about what our real needs are and work with government to ensure that these needs are tackled. Waiting will do us no good. We have to involve ourselves in the governance process right from the grassroots to ensure that the right development agenda is followed.

NDC has great plans for Ghana. The President we elected is a capable man but he can only succeed if those behind him make it clear to him that the path he is cutting is crooked. If we tend to put up sycophantic behaviour and always say the path is straight hoping for personal favours we are bringing doom to our people. I hope our ministers and MPs are listening. The people have charged you to represent them and you always have to ensure that you make their demands known to government clearly and not hide behind fear of losing favour to say only the nice things.

Torgbuiwo, Mamawo, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen I am proud to see a people reward accomplished citizens. I am grateful to you for the award given to these outstanding citizens of Aflao and myself and I pray that it will serve as an incentive to our people to aspire to greater heights. To us recipients it is a charge not to forget our people and always remember to ensure that whatever success we achieve in our individual careers reflect on our people.

Torgbui Adzonugaga Amenya Fiti V and the people of Aflao I wish you happy celebration of the 42nd Godigbe Festival. Long live Aflao, long live Ghana.
Thank you.

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