|Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, has at a ceremony to mark the 37th anniversary of the June 4 uprising, lashed out at the neglect of the environment by people and authority and described it as a reflection of the lawlessness, irresponsibility and indiscipline in the country.
He added that environmental neglect and abuse was a reflection “of the poor standard and authority of a government”.
The Chairman of the AFRC also charged at those who pretend not recognize what led to June 4, describing it as a justifiable intervention and an expression of rage against corruption and the rape of the country bysome political and military leaders.
“Let us not be so dishonest, so unethical, so immoral as to pretend we didn’t know what brought about 1966, what brought about 1972 and what brought about June 4 and the subsequent follow up, 31st December.
“June 4th, is therefore not about me! It is rather the collective action and expression of a people when they cry out, rise up and rightfully demand proper Governance, Accountability, Probity, Justice and Respect from those who are supposed to govern them!
“As we mark the 37th Anniversary of June 4th, I note with pain and anguish that the poisonous and agitated environment, the attitude of leaders, the unprecedented level of dishonesty, exploitation, the abuse and misuse of the Judiciary and the Security Agencies, and the arrogance of appointed and elected Officials have returned,” President Rawlings said.
The former President said a report in the media that Ghana stood the risk of importing water by 2021 was a reality created by the abuse of our water bodies through the dumping of non-degradable waste such as plastics, metals, chemicals and other poisonous material. He also referred to the wave of illegal mining, which has polluted our major rivers and turned them “into a flow of mud and grime”.
Flt. Lt. Rawlings who spoke in an address to mark the 37th anniversary of the June 4 1979 uprising on Saturday, said, “the corruption of the environment is the quickest way to degrade our human self-worth, and a government or local authority that would butcher trees or watch the degrading of its environment cannot expect people to behave responsibly in other facets of their life.”
The Founder of the NDC was critical of those who were part of the revolution but who today, hiding under the cloak of democracy prefer to label him the errant one. “Today those who have benefited from the sweat of the people have become lords over them and feel detached from the reality of the level of deprivation at the grassroots,” he said.
The leader of the June 4 1979 uprising was particularly critical about the wanton felling of trees, which had been planted over time to protect our ecosystem and wondered why the relevant authorities have looked on unconcerned or given the go ahead for such abuse.
He dedicated the commemoration to the men and women who sacrificed for the cause including the late Robert Ocran of Mankoadze Fisheries who provided fish during the early days of the revolution.
Wreaths were laid in memory of the fallen heroes by Dr. Kwame Ampofo, representing the people of Ghana, Brigadier General Nunoo Mensah, representing the Security Services, Chief Inspector Uget Bawa on behalf of the Cadre Corps, Nii Dodoo Nsaki I, Otublohum Mantse and Acting President of the Ga Traditional Council on behalf of Traditional Rulers, Mr. Napoleon Harrison and Nii Djamlodjei VI on behalf of Farmers of Fishermen and Ms. Sylvia Davordzi on behalf of the youth.
Earlier Brigadier General Nunoo Mensah, Defence Minister Benjamin Kumbuor and Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo lit the perpetual flame.
Please find below the full text of Flt Lt. Rawlings’ address.
ADDRESS BY H. E. FLT. LT. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS AT THE 37TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JUNE 4, 1979 UPRISING
– REVOLUTIONARY SQUARE, ACCRA
Cadres of the Revolution,
Friends and Sympathisers,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you for once again making time to converge here to remember the souls of the fallen heroes and rededicate June 4 to the spirit of equity, fairness, power to the people, probity, accountability, truth and integrity.
Comrades, developments over the past year on both the political and social front have once again exposed the extent of political and social disorder and dishonesty that is eating our country up like a malignant tumour – a debilitating cancer!
I have spoken a few times about these serious observations and received the usual abuse and vituperations from cowards who in their delusion assume their ill-acquired wealth make them untouchable, regardless of the power and unbreakable force and conviction of the ordinary hard working and noble people of this country.
Recently the Public Agenda newspaper carried a news item by the Deputy Chief of Staff – Mr. Johnny Osei Kofi. This gentleman was cautioning us, that Ghana risks importing water by 2021.
The article claims that Ghana is at risk of importing water in the near future. This news item may sound preposterous to most people but that is the stark reality. There is a global water crisis created by the abuse of the environment.
In our country the situation has become dire because of the abuse of our water bodies through the dumping of non-degradable waste like plastics, metals, chemicals and other poisonous material. It is further exacerbated by the senseless abuse of our rivers and lakes in the newfound craze for illegal mining.
It is tragic to see rivers such as Ankobra, Pra, Ofin and parts of the Volta, which used to provide clean potable water to huge communities now turned into a flow of mud and grime.
As far back as the early 80’s, when I was in office, I used to travel around the country a lot. An observation I made especially in parts of the three northern regions, was that a little too frequently, the roads would be leading over bridges and yet these bridges had no river flowing under them.
In effect, the environment had become so degraded that these water bodies had dried up.
Just as how and what we are reflects our sense of responsibility, so also does the environment reflect our sense of discipline and sense of responsibility.
In Zimbabwe you dare not cut down a tree, even in your own backyard, without governmental permission.
We have over the years tried to encourage the growing of trees and the protection of our forests. In those days we would not build roads without employing the 31st December Women’s Movement to grow trees along the roads.
I have watched the brutal hacking down of trees over the years, especially since I left office. Trees that were planted along the Tema motorway to Akosombo road were brutally hacked down a few months ago. Not even the traders who have decided to colonise the shoulders of our urban roads could protect these trees.
Nothing reflects our irresponsibility and indiscipline more than the neglect of our environment. Nothing reflects the poor standard andauthority of a government as the environment. Nothing reflects the lawlessness in a country as the neglect of its environment.
The protection of the environment is the quickest way for a government or local authority to demonstrate its sense of discipline. By contrast, the corruption of the environment is the quickest way to degrade our human self-worth, and a government or local authority that would butcher trees or watch the degrading of its environment, cannot expect people to behave responsibly in other facets of their life, or respect their government.
Upon entering Akuse or Akosombo Township, it can be observed that the Volta River Authority has, similarly, grown trees over the years along their roads. These trees have been preserved in spite of the electrical lines. Whenever necessary, the branches are pruned responsibly instead of hacking down these trees. This kind of action evokes in us responsible behavior and respect for the corporate authority in that vicinity.
The trees on the Tema motorway that I mentioned earlier could also have had their branches pruned to save the electrical lines and provide the shade they were intended to do. To butcher them in the manner it was done contributes swiftly to the perpetuation of corruption.
We are fortunate when we can protect a tree that has been provided by nature, but to make the extra effort of applying human labour to plant trees and subsequently hack them down for firewood, is a reflection of the thoughtlessness of both the contractor, political authority, and the littlemindedness of those who could not protect the shady trees.
Towards the end of 2008, one of the most glaringlyirresponsible actions was the hasty attempt to plant electric poles in the centre of the motorway. Not only did the material these poles were made of look extremely cheap and inferior, but also the situation very much called for the installation of solar lamps.
The green plants at the centre of the motorway could also have been nurtured or left alone to provide a curtain effect in the centre of the motorway and to shield the high lights from one lane into the other. But no, those plants had to be chopped down to give us the maximum effects of the Akosombo light.
I had hoped this irresponsibility would come to an end after 2008. But as soon as the new government became well seated we were back to business as usual. We did not seem to learn any lesson; we did not seem to know any better. The water level in the dam was not improving and yet switching to solar energy seemed far from our minds, and the contractor was given the go-ahead to finish the job.
Ladies and gentlemen, the low bush fires that occurred last year burnt down quite a number of those poles. It appears those poles were made of some kind of fiberglass or bandage. There is no doubt in my mind that some people have chopped good money for this kind of ineptitude.
I drive on the Accra – Sogakope road a lot. One of the most cost-saving set of poles that made it possible to extend electricity to various parts of the country were the teak trees that were cultivated in Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s days.
Some of these poles are as solid as ever on the Accra – Ada road, but for whatever reason have had to be replaced. Almost 80 per cent of these new poles are all tilted. Someone was in a real hurry to make his money real quick. So quick, they couldn’t even plant the poles upright to match the teak poles they replaced.
Something is going very wrong in this country. It’s not one or two or three poles that were tilted but a majority of them.
Something is wrong, Ladies and Gentlemen. Something really is because the majority of the folk who are in charge of managing our communities are very much aware of the impact of trees on our ecosystem.
It is common knowledge that trees allow for what the technical people will refer to as evapotranspiration, which leads to more rain. Our failure to inculcate aculture of tree planting and the continued hacking down of trees to be replaced by concrete infrastructure is the quickest way to invite the desert into our country. Today the poor rainfall trend has made the Akosombo and the Bui dams a complete irrelevance and anachronism in our quest for sustainable electricity.
Yesterday marked the first anniversary of the June 3 disaster at the GOIL station near the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. A host of factors, including the siting of structures on our waterways, lack of effective monitoring of our fuel dumps and the indiscriminate dumping of refuse into our drains conspired to cause that terrible disaster.
We have a responsibility as a government and people to ensure that the right actions are taken and sustained, so we do not encounter such a painful disaster ever again. Let us continue to pray not only for the souls of the departed but also for their families.
Ladies and Gentlemen, what happened on June 4 1979 was a justifiable intervention and an expression of rage against corruption and the rape of the country by some political and military leaders of the time. What happened in ’79 produced the halting effect of what Jesus Christ did in the temple when people were gambling and selling in the church. Within that period the nation finally had justice.
Let us not be so dishonest, so unethical, so immoral as to pretend wedidn’t know what brought about 1966, what brought about 1972 and what brought about June 4 and the subsequent follow up, 31st December.
June 4th, is therefore not about me! It is rather the collective action and expression of a people when they cry out, rise up and rightfully demand proper Governance, Accountability, Probity, Justice and Respect from those who are supposed to govern them!
Today many of those who were part of that insurrection choose to hide behind the cloak of democracy, preferring to label Rawlings as the errant one. Today those who have benefitted from the sweat of the people have become lords over them and feel detached from the reality of the level of deprivation at the grassroots.
As we mark the 37th Anniversary of June 4th, I note with pain and anguish that the poisonous and agitated environment, the attitude of leaders, the unprecedented level of dishonesty, exploitation, the abuse and misuse of the Judiciary and the Security Agencies, and the arrogance of appointed and elected Officials have returned.
It can never be too late to reverse the rot and re-embrace the ideals that took our country to the enviable levels to which we took it. But you and I should not sit idle and expect a miracle. Let’s speak up, let us set an example with the manner in which we comport ourselves in all aspects of our lives and let us demand even better standards from our leaders at all levels.
Thank you and God Bless you all!