The Catholic Archbishop of Cape Coast Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle has admonished Ghanaians especially politicians to emulate the personal crusade of probity, accountability and transparency espoused by the late Former President Jerry John Rawlings.
Delivering his homily at a Preburial Mass for the late Stateman, Palmer Buckle said this could be the best legacy Ghanaians can bequeath in honour of the late Jerry John Rawlings.
“Now is the time to look with different and unbiased eyes at his personal crusade of probity, transparency and accountability, let us take oath today in the presence of God to work conscientiously to establish this virtue in our own individual lives and in the social and political life and service of our country Ghana,” Palmer Buckle Said.
He added “This will be the worthy legacy and monument we can build to his name and for posterity not to forget that once there lived a in Ghana, a man Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings who so abhorred on righteousness and tried to sanitise our country and society all be it in his own way.”
The Catholic Requiem Mass which was held at the Holy Spirit Cathedral on Sunday afternoon official kick starts the four-day state Funeral for the late Former President.
The event was attended by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo, The Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia and the Second Lady Samira Bawumia as well as the Wife of the late Former President Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and his four children.
Other Dignitaries present was Former President John Mahama, running Mate for the NDC Prof Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman, The Speaker of Parliament Rt Hon Alban Bagbin, General Secretary of the NDC Johnson Asiedu Nketiah as well as other dignitaries.
The late statesman died on Thursday 12 November 2020 after a short illness at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.
Laying in state
Rawlings will be laid to rest on 27 January, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced earlier.
A statement addressed to diplomatic missions and sighted by ghextractives.com said Rawlings will be laid in state at the forecourt of the Accra International Conference Centre from 9am to 5pm daily.
A memorial mass will be held for him at the Holy Spirit Cathedral on Tuesday 26 January from 9am to 11am.
The burial service for the founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the statement noted, will subsequently be held on Wednesday 27 January at the Independence Square, Accra.
Born on 22 June 1947, Rawlings attended Achimota Secondary School, where he acquired an O’ level certificate in education in 1966. In August 1967 he enlisted as a flight cadet in the Ghana Air Force, earning selection for training at the Ghana Military Academy in Teshie, Accra.
He moved in March 1968 to Takoradi in the Western Region, where he continued pursuing his course. In January 1969 he passed out as a commissioned pilot.
His dedication and hard work earned him the rank of flight lieutenant in 1978. He had a good rapport with his colleagues and showed the highest efficiency in his line of work.
In the air force
During his time in the Ghana Air Force, he became increasingly angered by what he saw as the general moral decay and decline of discipline in Ghana.
Like many junior officers in the armed forces, he blamed the national decline on the corruption in the ruling Supreme Military Council (SMC). The SMC, they reasoned, was the body in charge of ensuring that Ghana succeeded in its efforts to promote development.
His diligence as a junior officer earned him promotion, giving him the opportunity to associate with the more privileged echelons of society.
He became ever more indignant about the social injustices that were the commonly accepted way of life in Ghana and began to mobilize among his fellow officers. He was regarded with great unease by the SMC, which began to hound him.
First and second comings
Rawlings began to hatch a political and social scheme with a growing circle of colleagues and friends who were in agreement with his plans, and at the same time read widely. This awareness-raising culminated in his first coup attempt of May 1979, followed by a successful coup d’état on 4 June 1979 in which friends and supporters freed him from jail.
Among the early actions of the new Armed Forces Revolutionary Council government were the executions of eight senior military officers, including three former heads of state.
He stood down after democratic elections that year which were won by Hilla Limann’s People’s National Party (PNP). He staged a second coup on 31 December 1981, however, ousting Limann and launching the self-styled revolution out of which his Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) was born.
The 31 December Revolution was followed by in-camera military tribunals and a slew of extrajudicial killings, notably the murders in 1982 of three senior judges and a retired military officer.
In 1992, under some pressure from within and outside Ghana, including international financial institutions, he returned Ghana to civilian rule, introducing the Fourth Republican constitution and standing as the presidential candidate of the new party that he founded, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
He served two terms as a civilian president, handing over on 7 January 2001 to John Agyekum Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), who defeated John Evans Atta Mills, Rawlings’s chosen successor as leader of the NDC.
Rawlings continued to play the role of senior statesman and both guiding light and critic of the NDC.
He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, the leader of the National Democratic Party, three daughters and one son. His eldest child, Zanetor Rawlings, is the NDC MP for Klottey Korle in Accra.