Rawlings and Obasanjo

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed why he would forever be indebted to late former President of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings.

Obasanjo made the revelation in a condolence message to the family of Rawlings and people of Ghana over the death of Rawlings.

He said it was Rawlings who housed the staff of the Africa Leadership Forum, ALF, an organisation he founded, which the late Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha wanted to destroy.

“As you know, 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.

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“It must also be on record that 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,” he said.

Obasanjo noted that the late Ghanaian President “supported and accommodated the organisation and its staff during the period of the relocation of the organisation’s base to Ghana because Abacha wanted to have them destroyed just immediately after he got me arrested and imprisoned on a trumped-up charge of coup plotting in 1995.

“No doubt, his generous assistance to ALF and its staff makes me forever indebted to him. I can proudly say he was a true friend and brother. His works, values, and principles have had and will continue to have a great influence and impact in Africa and beyond.

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“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.”

Obasanjo, in a condolence letter to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Ado, copy which was made available to newsmen through his Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi on Thursday, eulogized the former leader.

He said that Rawlings “was passionate about peace, security and leadership issues in Africa.”

According to Obasanjo, “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.

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“Like many of his contemporaries too, former President 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.”