A group of students from the Lagos and Kaduna states universities, Nigeria, on Friday honoured ex-President Rawlings and his wife for their 'exemplary leadership for Ghana and Africa'.
The students, led by Messrs Alfred John Ogbonna, Coordinator, and Anthony Corsy, Lecturer in Mass Communication at the Kaduna State University and leader of the team, presented the ex-First Couple with a glass plaque embossed with the insignia of the University of Lagos as a memento of their appreciation of their inspiring leadership while they led 'Ghana out of her difficult times' and helping to build sustainable structures that have seen the rebirth of Ghana as a democratic and confident country.
Ex-President Rawlings and Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, flanked by a couple of leaders of the National Democratic Congress at a ceremony held at their Ridge residence, expressed gratitude for the gesture and urged the students, “as the next generation of leaders on our continent”, to blaze the trail of successful leadership for the continent.
Ex-President Rawlings said the Continent of Africa is bedeviled with several problems, which can quickly be alluded to colonization, “What we have however conveniently overlooked, is the failure of some of our leaders to offer meaningful political direction required to move us forward”.
The ex-President said the gesture of the students in acknowledging what they believed was exemplary leadership on his part and on the part of his wife, was humbling, “but will ironically and sadly serve as a source of derision by some people who cringe at the unquestionable fact that we left a positive legacy for this country and beyond.”
“Leading Ghana for a period of 18 years was achieved not by lording it over the populace but by understanding the needs of the average Ghanaian who had no voice to express his opinions - the rural folk, the downtrodden.
“My wife Nana Konadu served as a bedrock traversing the entire country through her 31st December Women's Movement empowering the women, identifying sources of economic and political empowerment for them and ensuring that the mentality of women - seeing themselves as secondary subjects in society - was exorcised.
“Today, the reward from the country she served and continues to serve is political persecution in legal disguise.”
Ex-President Rawlings also explained that after the Kufuor government blocked a proposed award for him by the University of Development Studies in 2002, in recognition of “the vision of the PNDC/NDC government for the establishment of that University,” the current government, when it was time to reward itself, “attempted to use me as a smokescreen by offering me an award. I turned it down.”
“I travel to Nigeria regularly and you will be aware that recently I was honoured as an Honorary Partner of the River State Development Agency. They appreciated what the Revolutionary Government had done for rural development in Ghana.”
“Your very award today should serve as an inspiration to you as young leaders of tomorrow. The challenge to you is a tough one as parts of the world are teetering on the brink, with moral, economic and political woes created by some unipolar leaders with myopic and parochial interests.
“Some parts of Africa have been led down the path of under-development by leadership that did not have the interests of the populace at heart.
Patriotism and Nationalism key
Mr. & Mrs Rawlings in a group photograph with the students
“Things may have taken a turn for the better, but that can only be perpetuated by a new crop of leaders who are imbued with a sense of nationalism and patriotism and a desire to rise above the ashes of the past.
“The continent is so well endowed in natural and economic resource; it is a complete disaster that we cannot boast of development.
“As you set about recognising the quality of the leadership some of us have demonstrated, you are enjoined to set higher standards as your turn arrives.”
Nana Konadu urged women to work their way up the leadership ladder and not to be concerned only with looking beautiful, explaining that it is as well their responsibility to provide direction in building better societies, as men.
She said if men were heads, women should consider themselves as necks that carry the heads and therefore should direct where the body goes.
Dr. Kwabena Adjei, NDC Chairman, Messrs. E.T. Mensah and Alex Segbefia, all leaders of the party, spoke of the depths of despondency of the Ghanaian situation before the arrival of Rawlings and were united in their conclusions that the truth will always stand; that Rawlings, indeed deserves his due.
Story by Isaac Yeboah