Former President Jerry John Rawlings addressed the 38th Anniversary of 31st December Revolution at Winneba.
The Founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) touched on many sensitive issues in the country.
Rawlings talked about the University of Education (UEW) impasse, and also cautioned Ghanaians to be vigilant as many people are attempting to distort the history of the nation.
The 31st December 1981 revolution ushered in a period of economic and political transformation that culminated in the re-establishment of lasting constitutional rule in 1992.
The revolution also gave birth to the National Democratic Congress which won elections in 1992 and 1996 under the leadership of Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings.
Below is the full speech;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me first express my gratitude to the Chiefs and people of Winneba for hosting us here today and to welcome all who have come from far and near to celebrate with us.
Many have today forgotten the circumstances that gave birth to June 4, 1979, and 31st December 1981 and some have deliberately spent huge resources sponsoring a distortion of history based on outright lies, half-truths and the rendition by cowards who run away during those heady days.
Some may not want to speak openly about the truth, but there are millions alive who cannot forget the dire circumstances that this country found itself 40 years ago when the atmosphere was so fragile and volatile.
An important lesson in history is going to be lost on this nation because a handful of warped minds, full of hate and bitterness are being paid to distort and cover up events in our history with callous stories and lies. Why do we sit and allow these perfidious characters to get away with these lies and deceitful machinations through the power of the media all to the detriment of the nation?
In 1979 Ghanaians had suffered years of abuse and corruption and sought natural justice to punish some of those who were responsible for the humiliating circumstances they suffered.
Ladies and gentlemen, it will shock you to know that during the Acheampong regime, the banking sector especially the Ghana Commercial Bank was plunged into unimaginable corruption. The bank served as an avenue for cronies and a particular ethnic group to feed fat on loans without collateral. Sadly these loans were never paid.
Some private entrepreneurs like the ones Adongo Okyere alludes to in his misleading narration used to go for soft-loans, build fancy residences, rent them out to expatriates and ironically pay the proceeds into their foreign bank accounts. A two-man committee established then to look into the fraudulent activities of the bank had their activities come to an abrupt end when one of the members was killed and burnt under mysterious circumstances. How bad could the situation have been to warrant such a heinous and atrocious crime in an attempt to conceal their misconduct? These and many more wicked and morally disgusting actions were commonplace.
It is however unfortunate that some have chosen to siphon the negatives, leaving out the overwhelming gains made by these interventions of the people. The two interventions 1979 and 1981 were not about Rawlings. They were the effects of the mood of the country and the mood of the people. In telling the story, the context and the circumstances cannot be discounted or overlooked.
An explosion of human rage in our history, meant to teach us not to treat fellow human beings with disrespect, is being distorted by persons who lack credibility.
How can we decline to the extent of losing our morality and sense of discernment in even appreciating and identifying people of value and integrity?
Recently at funeral service in the Volta region, I went down on my knee out of respect to Togbega Addo VIII, Paramount Chief of Klikor, to seek permission to depart the ceremony ahead of time. Many were those who wondered who he was and why I had to kneel before him.
We no longer show enough respect to our traditional leaders who are the custodians of the soul and spirit of our nation. Amongst these traditional leaders are some of the most disciplined, clean, just and most revered personalities. We have to wake up to our responsibilities as a people and give due respect to all deserving people and not only to people of high social class and some whose claim to respect is due to their wealth or elected office.
In the coming weeks, I will engage the nation and take us through our socio-political trajectory and unravel key historical antecedents that have shaped us as a people.
Ladies and gentlemen, I intend to be brief but it will be unfair to conclude without touching on the case relating to social injustice and violation of the rights of some University of Education, Winneba staff by the Abeka led council.
First of all, I commend the government for their prompt intervention by laying a roadmap for the peaceful resolution of the matter after I expressed my initial concerns. From the records of EOCO and other state agencies the affected individuals were exonerated as there was no evidence of misconduct established against them. Ironically the current Vice-Chancellor who was indicted in the same report still remains at post.
Notwithstanding the effort of government towards immediate resolution, no significant progress has been made after more than three months. More than 20 dismissed staff at the UEW are going through discontent and pain. I hope this important matter is given the urgency and attention that is required.
I understand there are investigations ongoing regarding the current Vice-Chancellor. It will be appropriate for the Council to request that he steps aside for fairness to prevail as has been the practice with other similar circumstances in the past.
We should not allow the distortions of our history to continue. Everyone here who claims to be an adherent of the decade that stopped the socio-political decay in our country must recognize the calculated efforts to destroy the legacy that we all laid. Those who have allowed corruption to rear its ugly head, and permitted it to fester, want to belittle the discipline, the law and order we introduced into this country, so they can justify their corrupt tendencies.
The lighting of the perpetual flame and the laying of wreaths is to show reverence to all who sacrificed their lives during that difficult time in our country. Let no one downplay those sacrifices through historical distortions, twists and utter fabrications. We will face those cowards firmly. Let’s remain strong and resolute and not allow anyone to tell our story for us. We will tell our story!
I thank you all for coming. Drive safely! I wish you a Prosperous New Year and may God bless us all.