President Muhammadu Buhari and his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, have joined Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, in mourning the passing of the former president, Jerry Rawlings, who died at the age of 73.
Rawlings was confirmed dead on Thursday at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, two weeks after he buried his mother, Victoria Agbotui, in October. His mother had died at the age of 101.
Announcing the passing of Rawlings, Akufo-Addo directed that all national flags for the next seven days must fly at half-mast in all parts of the country.
The Ghanaian leader said the seven days of national mourning from November 13 to 20, is in honour of the first president of the Fourth Republic. Akufo-Addo added that the Vice President, Mahamadu Bawumia and himself had suspended their presidential campaign activities.
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He added that the government would be working closely with the family of the former president on a befitting state burial.
In his heartfelt condolence message sent to government and people of Ghana over passing of the country’s former president, Buhari affirmed that the entire African continent would sorely miss the sterling qualities of the great leader.
The Nigerian leader shared his belief in the “passion, discipline and moral strength that the former Ghanaian leader employed to reposition his country over many years continue to reverberate across the continent and beyond.”
Buhari noted, with commendation, “the unique role the former president “played in strengthening political institutions in his country and Africa, stimulating the economy for sustainable growth, and vociferously championing the African cause by urging many leaders to work towards interdependency on the global stage, especially in areas of competitive advantage.”
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He joined family, friends and associates of the former Ghanaian leader in mourning his departure, assuring that the ideas that Rawlings postulated, particularly for development in Africa, and his sacrifices in working in various countries as an envoy for peace and democracy would always be remembered.
Buhari prayed God to grant the Ghanaian leader eternal rest, and comfort all his loved ones.
Kenyatta has also mourned former Ghanaian President, describing him as “a true Pan-Africanist who firmly believed and cared for the interests of the citizens of this continent.”
He said Rawlings “is credited for his efforts of restoring political stability in Ghana after a series of coups in the 1960s and 1970s.”
In his message of encouragement to Akufo-Addo, the government and the Rawlings family, Kenyatta said Africa has lost “an icon and a great statesman whose contribution to peace and prosperity of the continent will be remembered for generations to come.”
According to him, “On behalf of the government and people of the Republic of Kenya, and on my own behalf, I wish to express my sincere and profound sympathy to the government and people of Ghana and the Rawlings family for the death of this great son of Africa.
“We will forever be grateful for his efforts to open the eyes of Africans especially on the management of their resources to develop their own countries. His leadership style transformed the minds of many people of this continent to see their possibilities in achieving the best with what they have.”
He added that the “servant leadership” of Rawlings ensured that Ghana steered back to its foundations of a free, fair and just society.
Kenyatta prayed God to comfort the Rawlings family and the people of Ghana at this time of mourning.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has also mourned the passing of Rawlings.
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In his condolence message, Atiku said: “Jerry Rawlings was an African giant. His tenure as leader of Ghana remains emblematic with the restoration of that country. Even after office, he stood tall for African unity and renaissance.
“He represented a generation of leaders who gave their all for the rebirth of his country and Africa at large.
“I pray for a pleasant repose of his soul and console with the people of Ghana; his contemporaries and current leaders in Africa on the loss of a worthy patriot.”
Commiserating with the government and people of Ghana over the death of former the president, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said it received the news of Jerry Rawlings’ death with rude shock and immense sadness given the roles he was playing to ensure the unity, stability and development of the African sub-region and the continent at large.
“Former President Rawlings was a courageous patriot whose policies repositioned his country to attain greater heights in critical sectors of her national life.
“Indeed, Jerry John Rawlings was loved not only by Ghanaians but also by Nigerians, and indeed by Africa and the global world, for his candor, patriotism and quest for development, equity and fairness.
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“Our party commiserates with the President of Ghana, His Excellency, Nana Akufo Addo, the widow of Jerry Rawlings, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, the Rawlings family as well as the people of Ghana and prays God to grant fortitude to the bereaved and eternal rest to the departed leader,” PDP said.
Rawlings came to power in Ghana as a Flight Lieutenant of Ghana Air Force following a coup d’état in 1979. In 1992, Rawlings resigned from the military and founded the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and became the first President of the Fourth Republic.