Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings has called for a paradigm shift in Ghanaians’ approach to patriotism, saying most Ghanaians concede there is a scarcity of patriotism in the country, with selfishness and the desire for money and power taking precedence over love for country.
He said the greed, thievery, fraud and lies we see around us is not peculiar to government or state institutions but a societal problem that needs to be confronted by all Ghanaians.
The octane level in the country, President Rawlings cautioned was high, and called on Ghanaians to focus on doing what was right for society, community and country.
“Today we seek money so we can have power and then proceed to lord it over the vulnerable in society. Selfishness is now a proud asset and patriotism seen as the pursuit of people without ambition,” he said.
The former President made the comments when he addressed a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Millennium Excellence Foundation at the Great Hall, Kumasi last Friday.
Ghanaians, Flt Lt Rawlings said, are quick to join the chorus when there is talk of corruption and accountability but wondered how many Ghanaians have not played a part in the deterioration of the basic moral fabric of society.
President Rawlings also lamented the involvement of some traditional authorities in the abuse of land sale, which has affected investor confidence in procurement of land for productive purposes such as agriculture.
The former President also spoke extensively on global issues describing the scourge of terrorism as a direct descendant of the discord and lack of equitable distribution of resources Ghanaians and others on the African continent take for granted. Selective justice and double standards in global affairs, he stated, have also seriously dented the exercise of morality in international relations.
“The new wave of global violence referred to as terrorism shows how man’s insensitivity to man can lead to violent upheaval almost impossible to contain and control. Even as the world empathizes and sympathizes with innocent victims of terrorist action all over the world, the world also supports the fight against terrorism.
“When the values of civilization are corrupted, democratic culture is in decline and political power and justice are up for sale, why will we not expect an increase in terrorist activities?” Flt Lt Rawlings said.
The former President said the West and its allies would always be perceived as guilty if the unconscionable injustice perpetrated on Palestinians continues.
He said: “Although there are less guilty ones, there is also the guilt of silence, the guilt of inaction.”
Ghanaians were charged not to ignore global developments or the local degradation of values. He said the daily reports of murders, violent thievery, domestic violence and the upsurge in aggressive posturing by pressure groups was a direct result of the perception by some that just a few want to monopolise the right to power and money.
Please find below the full text of the address.
STATEMENT BY HIS H. E. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA ON THE OCCASION OF THE 4TH MILLENNIUM EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2015 AT MANHYIA PALACE, KUMASI
– 11TH DECEMBER, 2015
Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II,
The Chairman of the Council of State,
Ministers of State,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
The Board of Governors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to commend the Millennium Excellence Foundation for its consistency in setting a high standard in recognizing the roles many illustrious sons and daughters of our country have played in various facets of our national development.
Twenty years is a good time to celebrate and in celebrating we have to pause and reflect on the true value of what the awards and recognitions over the years have meant for the socio-economic development of Ghana and beyond.
Excellence is a powerful word and this celebratory period should be a period of reflection for all in this room and for Ghanaians as a whole. I have been asked to speak on the topic “Patriotism and Self Sacrifice for Nation Building”.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; I have monitored developments in Ghana and on the global political scale with some disquiet and have some comments to make on the matter. However, I believe everyone present here today is aware of the scarcity of patriotism in our country.
Our quest for economic and monetary power has dominated every facet of our being so much so that we seem to care little for the good of our country. We are quick to join the chorus when talk of corruption and lack of accountability is mentioned in the media and the various global Internet chat rooms. But ladies and gentlemen, how many of us have not played a part in the deterioration of the basic moral fabric of our society, which is love for our country?
Today we seek money so we can have power and then proceed to lord it over the vulnerable in society. I have said on several platforms before that the right of might has now overridden the might of right and metamorphosed into a cancerous monster. Selfishness is now a proud asset and patriotism seen as the pur1suit of people without ambition.
What we see around us, the greed, the thievery, the fraud, the lies, is not peculiar to government and state institutions. It is a societal issue and has to be confronted head on by all. Even some of our traditional leaders play significant roles in perpetrating fraud on our people and sometimes on investors who mean well for our country. How often nowadays do we hear harrowing stories of multiple sale of lands, arming of land guards to intimidate persons with genuine land title deeds and rich land for agriculture being sold to persons who put up concrete structures for easy commercial gain at the expense of Ghana’s medium to long term agricultural and economic sustainability.
Ladies and gentlemen, globalization has no doubt played a significant role in the sense of detachment many now have for their country and community, but we cannot forget the bond of love and unity that moulded us into what we are today. The world has its huge challenges including the scourge of terrorism – a direct descendant of the discord and lack of equitable distribution of resources we in Ghana and elsewhere on the continent seem to take for granted. We cannot do so for long. The rich cannot continue to get richer at the expense of the poor.
The new wave of global violence referred to as terrorism shows how man’s insensitivity to man can lead to a violent upheaval almost impossible to contain and control. Even as the world empathizes and sympathizes with innocent victims of terrorist action all over the world, the world also supports the fight against terrorism.
Even as the world supports the military measures against the perpetrators these will always continue to be short-term solutions. One of the most unconscionable injustices that is being perpetrated against a people is the persecution of Palestinians. If the world is expected to become immune to this inhumanity then we need to re-examine ourselves.
So long as the persecution of Palestinians continues Western nations especially will be perceived as guilty parties. Some nations more so than others will be perceived as guiltier than others in this abnormality. Although there are less guilty ones, there is also the guilt of silence, the guilt of inaction.
The collapse of the bipolar world and growth of a unipolar order changed the balance in global affairs. As the West hunted down real and perceived terrorists, some governments in other parts of the world took advantage of the situation to terrorize freedom-seeking citizens, as freedom fighting became labelled as terrorism.
Political impunity and financial tyranny have become the order of the day. Selective justice and double standards in global affairs have seriously dented the exercise of morality in international relations.
In the early 2000s, while delivering an address in Tanzania, I warned about an escalation of terrorist activities. The West and the media were so preoccupied with white-washing the cause of unipolar leadership, that they could not see the consequences of some of their actions. Barely two weeks ago one of the major Western media networks now claims that terrorism had risen by 84 per cent by the 2014.
A few too many countries have become so compromised while others have become so reliant on some Western powers for security and cannot find the voice or the courage to condemn their unconscionable actions.
President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher could be excused in spite of all the available evidence in their time. No one can however be excused in this day and age. The human greed and quest for power has done enough damage to our civilization. While the need for urgent remedial action is drawing on the world, tiny minorities who have profited from being in a stage of denial are bent on denying what has become very obvious to human kind.
How can these patterns of behavior not generate the hate, anger, and bitterness that sometimes give rise to terrorist actions?
When no less a person than the late Pope describes global financial practices as the “savagery of capitalism”, do we not see this as the pervasive practice that is violating the dignity of humanity?
If many years down the line, President Carter should also condemn or reproach a superpower for losing its moral authority, how then can we not expect an increase in terrorist activities?
As we take the fight to terrorist organizations, let us not engage in the usual overkill, as this will only make more fertile the recruitment ground of terrorists.
When the values of civilization are corrupted, democratic culture is in decline and political power and justice are up for sale, why will we not expect an increase in terrorist activities?
Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot afford to ignore global developments or the degradation of human values in our country. We hear daily reports of murders, violent thievery, increased domestic violence, political violence and a dangerous upsurge in aggressive posturing by various pressure groups.
Many of these developments are a direct result of the perception that just a few want to monopolize the right to power and money! Some of the vulnerable unfortunately believe their response should be through violence and aggressive posturing, as the only way they can also vent their frustration. That posturing is wrong and condemnable but is a result of the ordinary person’s lack of belief in the structures established constitutionally to defend their rights.
Nana Osei Tutu II, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: The octane level in the country is uncomfortably high. Ghana is a fairly peaceful country. Let us not however take the peace loving nature of our people for granted. While patting ourselves on the back over some successes we have to concede huge challenges still exist. We have to focus on doing what is right for our society, our communities, and our country. So while I congratulate all who deserve to receive recognition today, I enjoin you to engage in thorough introspection and to ask yourself what you can still do for our country.
Ghana needs a paradigm shift and the onus lies on us to effect that shift.
Thank you and good evening.
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