Dr. Lawrence Tetteh, President and Founder, Worldwide Miracle Outreach, says the death of former President Jerry John Rawlings is a great loss to Ghana and Africa.
He said Rawlings’ contribution to multiparty democracy on the continent was huge and urged Ghanaians to learn from his successes and failures.
Dr. Tetteh said this in an interview with the Ghana News Agency after commiserating with the bereaved family at Ridge, Accra.
“This should remind us all, especially politicians that power is transient and let’s learn from his values of probity, transparency and accountability,” he said.
Dr. Tetteh asked the media to remember the country’s cultural values and respect the privacy of the family, saying, “These are trial moments for the family, so we have to be circumspect in our discourse.”
He said the world would be watching how Ghana would honour the memory of the former President and cautioned politicians against using his demise to score political points.
“…This must bring us together as we go to the polls in December. We must get more united as one people with a common destiny, knowing that matured politics is what Ghana need,” the International Evangelist said.
He recounted fond memories with former President Rawlings from 1979 during his student taskforce days, and said it was time the country respected and honoured its living former Presidents – Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, and Mr John Dramani Mahama as “celebrated national heroes.“
Dr. Tetteh, also known as Ghana’s “Billy Graham” for his patriotism, commended the two major political parties for suspending their campaigns in honour of late President Rawlings.
“This is a good sign of a massive united front and I know with this, the world will applaud us and be proud of us as a mature people,” he added.
Meanwhile, many Ghanaians have expressed their love and admiration for Mr Rawlings, saying he contributed a great deal to Ghana’s socio-economic progress, especially the provision of infrastructure.
Mr Rawlings was the first president of the Fourth Republic, ruling from January 1993 to January 2001, having served the maximum two terms.
Before then, he was the Head of State from December 1981 to December 1992, coming to power through a military coup.
Born 22 June 1947, in Accra, Gold Coast, the former air force officer and politician first appeared on the Ghanaian political scene on 15 May, 1979 when he led a group of junior officers in the Ghana Armed Forces to stage a mutiny that resulted in his arrest and detention.
He was court-martialed in public and sentenced to death which was never executed. Due to his display of patriotism in his defense speeches, he was widely seen across the country as a true son of Ghana, and was nicknamed Junior Jesus to match his initials “JJ”.
Before he could be executed, another group of junior officers within the Ghana Army led by Major Boakye-Djan, overthrew the then military government of Lieutenant General Fred Akuffo in a bloody coup on June 4, 1979. Major Boakye-Djan and his men also set Rawlings free from prison, and installed him as head of the new government – the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
At the time of the coup, Ghana was already far into the process of returning to civilian rule and general elections were already scheduled. Hence, the AFRC went ahead to conduct an election and handed over power to Dr. Hilla Limann who won the popular vote in the election to establish the Third Republic.
Less than two years later, Dr. Limann’s civilian and constitutional government was overthrown again by Jerry Rawlings on 31 December, 1981. He then installed the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime. In all, Jerry Rawlings staged three coups d’état in Ghana, two of which were successful.
Rawlings was married to Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings and had four adult children: three females and a male. He was the joint recipient of the 1993 World Hunger Award.
On 8th October 2010, the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Jean Ping appointed Mr. Jerry John Rawlings, as the AU High Representative for Somalia.