Ghana: Press zooms in on national mourning for late Rawlings, others

The State funeral for late former President Jerry John Rawlings, which began on Sunday with a requiem mass is the…

The State funeral for late former President Jerry John Rawlings, which began on Sunday with a requiem mass is the leading story in Ghanaian press on Monday.The Graphic reports that Ghana has been plunged into full-scale mourning from today as its citizens and mourners from the rest of the world begin paying their last respects to the late former President Jerry John Rawlings, 73, in a state funeral, which will last until Wednesday, January 27.

The body of the former President is to be laid in state at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) from this morning for mourners to file past.

The mood of the nation, especially in the capital, Accra, where the funeral is taking place, is nothing but somber.

Today’s filing past is reserved for heads of the security agencies, leaders of political parties and the public.

Tomorrow, the filing past will start with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia, former Heads of State, as well as heads of constitutional bodies.

On the same Tuesday, Members of Parliament, led by the Speaker, Mr Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin; former Speakers of Parliament, the Chief Justice, justices of the Supreme Court, former Chief Justices, former chairmen and members of the Council of State, former ministers of state, among others, will file past the body.

Members of the Diplomatic Corps and organised groups will also pay their respects on Tuesday.

Massive preparations have gone on for the funeral of the man who ruled Ghana twice as a military leader — first from June 4 to September 24, 1979 and then from December 31, 1981 to January 6, 1993 — before transitioning into a democratically elected President on January 7, 1993, following his victory in the presidential election earlier in November 1992.

The newspaper says that the Vice-President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC), the Most Rev. Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, has called on Ghanaians to conscientiously work towards imbibing the virtues of probity, accountability and transparency in whatever they do, as advocated by the late former President Jerry John Rawlings.

According to him, upholding those virtues would be the worthiest legacy of the former President.

He was delivering the homily at a Requiem Mass at the Holy Spirit Cathedral in Accra to start a four-day national funeral for the late Rawlings.

“Now is the time to look with different and unbiased eyes at his personal crusade of probity, accountability and transparency.

“Let us take hold today, in the presence of God, to work conscientiously to establish these virtues of probity, accountability and transparency in our own individual lives and in the social and political life and service of our country Ghana.

“This will be the worthiest legacy and embodiment we can build to his name and for posterity, not to forget that once there lived a man, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, who abhorred unrighteousness and tried to sanitise the country,” the Most Rev. Palmer-Buckle said.

In attendance were the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; his wife, Rebecca; the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; his wife, Samira; former President John Dramani Mahama and the leadership of Parliament, led by the Speaker, Mr Alban Kingsford Sumana Bagbin.

The Graphic also reports that the Chairman of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has asked member states not to be despaired in the face of the devastating effect of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the continent.

Rather, he said, they should learn lessons from such calamities by becoming self-reliant and also strengthening their bonds of unity and solidarity to battle the virus.

“The COVID-19 has provided us with the avenue to be self-reliant, and it is also a clarion call for us to remain faithful to the main objective of ECOWAS, which is to promote cooperation and integration for the well-being of our citizens,” the President added.

President Akufo-Addo was addressing the 58th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government last Saturday via video conferencing from the Jubilee House with his colleagues in their home countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the two-day summit, the leaders considered the report of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers and also deliberated on the political, economic, social and other issues affecting the region.

President Akufo-Addo said members of the regional bloc had shown considerable resilience and solidarity since the outbreak of the pandemic, as evidenced in the decisions taken at an extraordinary summit on April 23, 2020 which, he said, had helped to contain the spread of the virus in the region.

He expressed appreciation to the ‘ECOWAS Champion’, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, for his fight against COVID-19 through the provision of medicines and equipment and the deployment of human resource to various member countries.