By James Ogunnaike, Dirisu Yakubu
Former President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana has died from complications of COVID-19. The ex-president died at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, capital of Ghana, in the early hours of yesterday.
According to report, he had recently buried his mother, Victoria Agbotui, at Dzelukope in the Volta Region on October 24, 2020.
She died at 101 on September 24, 2020. Shortly after the burial, Rawlings fell seriously ill and was hopitalised after showing symptoms of COVID-19.
A military ruler, who later joined politics, Rawlings ruled Ghana from 1981 to 2001.
He led a military junta until 1992, and then served two terms as the democratically elected president of Ghana.
A flight lieutenant of the Ghanaian Air Force, Rawlings first staged military coup as a young revolutionary on May 15, 1979, five weeks before scheduled elections to return the country to civilian rule.
When it failed, he was imprisoned, publicly court-martialed and sentenced to death.
After initially handing power over to a civilian government, he took back control of the country on December 31, 1981 as the chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council, PNDC,
He then resigned from the military, founded the National Democratic Congress, NDC, and became the first president of the Fourth Republic.
He was re-elected in 1996 for four more years. After two terms in office, the limit according to the Ghanaian constitution, Rawlings endorsed his vice-president John Atta Mills as presidential candidate in 2000. He was born on June 22,1947.
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the death of Ghana’s ex-President, Jerry Rawlings.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari yesterday expressed his heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Ghana over passing of the country’s former President, Jerry Rawlings.
Buhari said African continent will sorely miss the sterling qualities of the former leader who passed on at the age of 73.
President Buhari believes the passion, discipline and moral strength that the former Ghanaian leader employed to reposition his country over many years will continue to reverberate across the continent and beyond.
The President noted with commendation, the unique role the former President played in strengthening political institutions in his country and Africa, stimulating the economy for sustainable growth, and vociferously championing the African cause by urging many leaders to work towards interdependence on the global stage, especially in areas of competitive advantage.
President Buhari while joining family, friends and associates of the former Ghanaian leader in mourning his departure, assured that the ideas that Rawlings postulated, particularly for development in Africa, and his sacrifices in working in various countries as an envoy for peace and democracy, will always be remembered.
The President also prayed that the Almighty God will grant the Ghanaian leader eternal rest, and comfort all his loved ones.
Also former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in his condolence message said: “President Rawlings will be missed for his exemplary leadership across Africa but particularly for his contribution to nation-building in the Republic of Ghana where he served, first as the Military Head of State of the country from 1981 to 1992 and later as a democratically-elected President from 1992-2000.
“Like many of his contemporaries too, Rawlings provided the much-needed leadership and direction which impacted positively on the social stability and democratic progress recorded thus far in Ghana. A quintessential patriot and courageous leader, he will be remembered for his critical role in the evolvement of modern democratic Ghana.
“I worked very closely with our departed brother within the remaining two years of his completing his second term in office, i.e.1999-2000 and during which time I had become a democratically-elected President of Nigeria. I found in him a reliable friend, ally and confidant. We worked together under the auspices of AU with constructive contributions at the various fora in our joint efforts at charting a new future for Africa.
particularly in tackling the scourge of malaria in our continent using the platform of the African Summit on Roll Back Malaria where his participation was quite active and the quality of his contributions enriched our deliberations and pointed the way forward in dealing with the disease. He was passionate about peace, security and leadership issues in Africa.
“President Rawlings played a key role in furthering the actualization of the objectives of the Africa Leadership Forum, ALF, a non-governmental organization which I founded in 1988 to develop leadership capacities in Africa in order to increase productivity of major actors in government, parliament, business and civil society”.
“I join the Government and the good people of Ghana as well as millions of others around the world in mourning a man, who dedicated his life to the growth and development of Ghana, his country, in particular, and Africa as a whole.
“While earnestly praying for the repose of the soul of President Rawlings, I add that God Almighty should give his family, your Government and people of Ghana the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss of this committed nationalist,”
In the same vein, Liberia’s President, George Weah on his tweeter page stated: “On behalf of the government and the people of the republic of Liberia and in my own name, I wish to convey deepest and profound sympathy to the government, the good people of Ghana, the Rawlings family and the entire Africa for the death of great statesman, Former President.”
Also Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan sympathised with the people Ghana over the death of their former president.
In his condolence message on his official Twitter yesterday he said:”I extend my deepest condolences to the Government and people of the Republic of Ghana over the passing on of former President Jerry John Rawlings.
“As Ghana’s leader under different dispensations, he acquitted himself as a soldier of the masses and crusader for social justice.
“President Rawlings was a statesman & Pan-Africanist with strong views & drive for Africa’s renaissance & growth. He died at a time the continent needed his wisdom and experience to deal with challenging socio-political issues.”
May God Almighty grant his soul eternal rest.”
In his reaction, former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, described the death of Rawlings as a great loss not just for Ghana but for Africa at large.
Obi who recalled how he always hosted him in Nigeria, said that at each occasion, he would always advise him what good governance could do for a society with evident delight.
Concluding, Obi said his voice was a bulwark against bad governance and, rightly or wrongly, representative of revolutionary zeal for a better society.
In the same vein, Nigeria’s main opposition party the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday also commiserated with the government and people of Ghana over the death of the ex-President.
In a statement, spokesman of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, stated “Former President Rawlings was a courageous patriot whose policies repositioned his country to attain greater heights in critical sectors of her national life. Indeed, Rawlings was loved not only by Ghanaians but also by Nigerians, and indeed by Africa and the global world, for his candour, patriotism and quest for development, equity and fairness.
Our party commiserates with the President of Ghana, His Excellency, Nana Akufo Addo, the widow of Jerry Rawlings, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, the Rawlings family as well as the people of Ghana and pray God to grant fortitude to the bereaved and eternal rest to the departed leader.”
Rawlings died yesterday from suspected COVID-19 related ailment