Former President Jerry John Rawlings has expressed concern that though Ghana has been able to achieve electoral democracy, she has been unable to translate that into combatting and containing corruption.
He said a good system of democracy should be able to contain corruption, stating that while a lack of democracy is usually associated with tyranny and corruption, Ghana has been able to achieve electoral democracy without its associated reward of the containment of corruption.
“We can judge the quality of democracy by the extent to which it is able to bring on board the participation, the strength, the defiance, the goodwill and the discipline of the people to contain corruption,” the former President said when the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Nuhu Sharabutu, paid a courtesy call on him on Thursday.
Flt Lt Rawlings sought the Chief Imam’s support through serious prayers for a good culture of democracy that has the capacity to contain corruption. He said changes in political leadership through the ballot box has been qualified as good democracy though it has failed to contain corruption.
Speaking through one of his aides, Sheikh Nuhu Sharabutu said the visit was part of the celebration of his centenary which fell on April 23 this year. He said the celebration will not be complete without a special visit and a special word of gratitude to the former President for his role in formalizing Muslim leadership in Ghana and instituting Muslim national holidays during his tenure as Head of State.
OFFICE OF CHIEF IMAM
“It is on record that your regime institutionalized the office of the National Chief Imam, that has resulted in the intra and inter religious stability in the country. There’s no doubt that the Chief Imam occupies a powerful page in the history of religious tolerance in this country. That could not have been done without you. Your level of struggle against corruption, injustice, love for the poor, concern for the downtrodden and your stance against injustice are all appreciated. The best time to show this appreciation is the holy period of The Ramadan,” Sheikh Sharabutu stated.
Flt Lt Rawlings expressed his gratitude for the role the Chief Imam had played “through the trying times that helped to sustain the stability we enjoy, and we continue to pray it stays that way.”
The former President noted that that while the visit and the kind words from the Chief Imam, “does him great honour, I am not too sure I deserve so much. Some of the deeds come to us through the Almighty so it is something we should thank Him for.”
He said the formalization of the office of the National Chief Imam and the establishing of Muslim holidays were long overdue at the time they happened. “God did not create human beings to be subservient to one another.”
The former President used the occasion to remind the world that there is serious injustice against the Palestinian people. He said the world was not crying out loud enough or coming out to condemn what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians.
Mr. Rawlings said while the world is supposed to be improving as far as freedom and justice was concerned, the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians continues to undermine international efforts towards freedom and justice.
“It is undermining America’s political standing and morality. We’ve been too silent for too long. No amount of condemnation, spoken in words could adequately give any satisfaction to the spirit, to the soul. The condemnation of what is going on has to continue. It appears the American people will now have to wake up the way they did in defence of Mandela. The way they did to get rid of apartheid. Looking up to the presidency, the government or congress doesn’t seem to be doing much.”
“The plight of the Palestinians has always been part of the African Union’s struggle, so was Apartheid South Africa, but today she is fine. Why have we neglected Palestine? Why don’t we see the issue of the Palestinian plight with hundreds killed and injured and thousands crippled? If something like this wasn’t going on, Saudi Arabia of all countries would not have had the effrontery to treat the Yemenis the way they have done,” the former President stated.
Flt Lt Rawlings called on Sheikh Sharabutu to use the period of his anniversary and Ramadan to send a message that this kind of persecution has to stop.
He said, “The persecution of Shiites by the Sunnis must also come to an end. The attempt to wage war against Iran stems from this. It is wrong. If there’s any persecution of Sunnis by Shiites, that must also be contained,” he said.
Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, who was also at the meeting thanked the National Chief Imam for the role he had played in keeping the peace between various religions in Ghana. She also commended her father, former President Rawlings, for allowing himself to be used as an instrument to institutionalize the office of the Chief Imam and the establishment of Muslim national holidays.
Dr. Agyeman-Rawlings said the peace we are enjoying now is not by accident and called on the Chief Imam to dedicate his Ramadan prayers to peace and justice in Ghana so that the foundation that has been built can stand the test of time. She wished Sheikh Sharabutu a happy centenary and prayed for many more years as Allah wills for the Imam.
Reverend Akua Buabema Ofori-Boateng of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, offered an inspirational prayer for peace and unity for Ghana. She also prayed for good health and long life for the National Chief Imam and former President Rawlings.
Sheikh Nuhu Sharabutu was accompanied by Chief Abdul Kadir Tahir, Dagomba Chief of Accra, Abdul Latif Abdulsalam, Marzuk Azindo, Mulhemina Sharabutu, Khuzaima Osman, Abubakar Sharabutu, Mall Dan-Alfa, Mubashir Tahir, Alhaji Rashid Ibrahim and Alhaji Masaud Abubakar.
Also present were Dr. Anthony Dzegede, Dr. Donald Agumenu and Mr. Kobina Andoh all from the office of former President Rawlings.