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14 October 2013

Justice Atuguba reminded Ghana of the integrity of sacred values.

 
Former President Jerry John Rawlings has singled out Justice William Atuguba of the Supreme Court for high praise, saying his boldness and leadership style during the election petition hearing is what Ghana requires presently.
Speaking during a special congregation of the University for Development Studies to confer an honorary degree on him in Tamale on Saturday, Rawlings said Ghana needs strong men and women of integrity in all sectors to successfully combat corruption and indiscipline.

He said the country is plagued by a crippling “Ostrich Mentality” where somehow, everyone knows what goes on, but no one seems ready to admit that there is a problem while our capacity to speak the truth has become so poor that we let wrong pass unchallenged.

Rawlings said the situation is so bad that the one who admits there is a problem is often ridiculed by his peers, and the simple reason why this is so, is because “Perpetuating anti-development tendencies enhances the “get-rich-quick” attitude of the greedy ones, those of us who have access to power and privilege. Admitting that there is a problem might expose the pathways for illegal wealth and the oppression of the people.”

He said during the 8-month long hearing of the presidential election petition at the Supreme Court, Ghana came close to the brink of anarchy, however, the court, under the able leadership of Her Lordship, the Chief Justice and the resolve of the Chairman of the Panel, Justice Atugubah, order was restored.

Rawlings said while the Court’s verdict and the conduct of the petitioners, respondents and their followers were good news worthy of respect, “the greatest news, however, was the manner in which the presiding judge, Justice William Atuguba conducted the entire proceedings.”

“The great Justice Atuguba’s brand of leadership on the bench helped to restore some of the image the judiciary had lost over the years. His ability to stamp his authority and expose the indiscipline that some of the parties in the case were exhibiting served as a greater complement to all the peace initiatives that we all lent a hand to”, he said.

Rawlings said when Justice Atuguba asserted the authority of the judiciary over offensive characters who had always thought that they could run roughshod over the country, “he laid before this country the integrity of sacred values and the integrity of his own personal lifestyle.

“This is the man I wish to celebrate today. There is no doubt that there are many judges of similar character who deserve our respect. There are also judges of questionable integrity.”

He urged the judiciary not to lose the fine opportunity presented by the current political climate in the country to continue to free itself of the political controls that have existed in the past.

Speaking of the honour done him by the UDS, former President Rawlings expressed gratitude and said he first heard of the honour in the year 2000, saying, waiting for 14 years was a long drawn-out struggle that came with seeking justice and speaking for it.

Others, he said, got it on a silver platter.

“This very university has decided to award honorary degrees to many people, and within 2-3 months, they are invited, the ceremony occurs and out they go, honoured, done; they are knighted! For Rawlings, 14 years!

“The good news is, we are here, thanks to the ordinary people of this country and the courage and perseverance of some men and women of honour and of integrity who founded and are nurturing the dream of this university; their names and memories will forever be immortalized; they are too many to count here.

Rawlings said a beacon of hope in Africa is gradually but surely beginning to whisper the vision that soon, Africa will re-discover its own pathways for democracy and sustainable development.

Speaking on the topic "Leadership for Sustainable Development under Ghana's Transition to Democracy", he said “True democracy cannot exist in a vacuum; it must be accompanied by systems that make democracy relevant to peoples' needs.”

He traced the history of Ghana’s negotiated political systems from the days of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah through the AFRC and PNDC eras, the contradictions and challenges that have sought to erode the visions and gains of the past, and why there’s need to appreciate the linkages between leadership and the ruled.

He urged the leadership of the UDS to stay the course of serving those in the rural communities and not to depart from that core mission.

“I have come to understand and believe that the University for Development Studies is ‘an innovative community of learning designed to energize, empower and engage rural communities and youth into driving their development.’ This University has therefore been designed in such a manner that it affords the students the opportunity to spend 1 year out of 4 years in the communities, through the third trimester community learning effort. They stay in villages, under the supervision of their Professors -- eating with community members, drinking their water, and learning their stories of life's struggles. University students become real learners from their less-privileged elders, yet, they benefit from the richness of village history and culture. In turn, they start developing solutions that are relevant to the real needs and aspirations of the people.

“The structure of UDS is also unique. You are the only university with campuses in all 3 regions of Northern Ghana. This promotes harmony and unity, and allows young people to grow up and learn the cultures of others, without boundaries. I urge you to preserve this structure of UDS. I do not oppose each region having an additional regional university, but please preserve UDS. You can always have more without dismantling the original university in its unique cross-regional dimension.” Visit our photo galleries.

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