Rawlings blames conflicts in Africa on lack of freedom, justice
By Tony Edike
ENUGU—FORMER Ghanaian President, Jerry Rawlings, Friday, identified the failure of most African countries to ensure freedom, justice and economic balance for the citizens as the major causes of incessant conflicts on the continent.
He also said that corruption had remained one of the main weaknesses of the African continent which must be effectively checked, to enable the continent achieves appreciable economic growth.
Rawlings spoke with newsmen at the AkanuIbiamAirport, Enugu on his way to Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka , Anambr aState, where he delivered a lecture entitled “Eradicating Corruption in Africa” as part of the Zik Annual Lecture Series endowed by Senator Ben Obi, Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Inter- Party Affairs.
The former Ghanaian president, who ruled as Military and Civilian President of the Republic of Ghana for over 20 years, said he was in Nigeria again after his last visit in 2012 for the funeral of the late Biafran leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, “to share few thoughts on how we can eradicate, contain or control corruption on the continent.”
“I think we all know that it (corruption) is one of the main weaknesses in the countries in this continent. And I hope to share some thoughts from my own experiences and I can tell you that the lecture will be very interesting to all as I will speak from my own experiences in Ghana,” he said.
Asked if he was satisfied with the level of economic development on the African Continent, Rawlings said: “To some extent I will say yes we are but taking a looking at the Egypt, at Tunisia and to a lesser degree Tripoli, the countries looked highly developed but I guess the development must have taken place at the expense of the rights, freedom and justice of the people and that is what led to the backfiring.
“So, I think the best form of development is where you do not do it in the absence of, but as a compliment of the rights of our people. It is important that we make sure that things are grounded in a strong sense of freedom.
“The political atmosphere must truly be owned by the people. That is the surest form of stability but everything is the collapse of the bipolar world. And globalization has created an environment where most Africa is being assimilated and most of that assimilation is being done not on our terms.
“What we can do to claim our rightful place in the global trend is something we will live to see or we will work harder to achieve.”
On the causes of incessant conflicts being witnessed in most African countries, the ex-Ghanaian president said though they were part of the burdens inherited from the colonial era, the unfortunate development should be blamed on the numerous socio-economic imbalances which had created much stress on the society.
His words: “Most of these things are related to some of the unfortunate burdens that we have carried from our colonial era. The nature of our development has also not redressed some of those socio-economic imbalances – the ethnic aspect of things and it has created much stress on our societies.
“Unfortunately, sometimes it explodes in form of conflicts but I can only hope that when true justice falls into the hands of our people, not just fall, if we create an atmosphere that ensures true freedom and justice on our continent, such conflicts will be a thing of the past.
“But when you have an imbalance in terms of development or impoverishment of our people, naturally it creates stress on our lives, and it creates an unhappy ending and that is not what we want. That is why I am citing the Egyptian situation as an example and that of Tunisia for instance; you don’t develop at the expense of freedom and justice.”
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