Rawlings deserves the honour of renaming UDS after him

In 1993, then President Jerry John Rawlings was awarded a $50,000 Africa prize by the Hunger Project for transforming Ghana from a condition of economic crisis to a model of self-reliance, consistently focusing on the need for increased food production.

The Africa Prize honours a distinguished African man or woman who has exhibited exceptional leadership in bringing about the sustainable end of hunger at the national, regional or continent-wide level.

Launched in 1987 by The Hunger Project, the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger was established to honour effective leadership that Africa desperately needs.

 The Africa Prize therefore celebrates, acknowledges and honours the accomplishments of individuals who have exhibited extraordinary leadership for the end of hunger.

In addition, the Africa Prize seeks to generate heightened awareness within the world community of the many African leaders who are making the difficult decisions and taking the necessary actions to resolve the pressing agricultural, economic, political and social issues facing the continent.

Former President Rawlings was identified in 1993 and awarded the prize and as a laureate, he was presented with a $50,000 prize. What did he do with the money?

As is widely known, the former President donated his prize as seed money towards the establishment of the university and for purchase of books for it.

No doubt, that singular gesture won him many admirers, who have over the years proposed naming the University of Development Studies (UDS) after him. In fact, the university came close in 2005 in naming the institution after the former President but he declined the offer.

But more critically, the university also failed to name it after the former President following some agitations against the move and cancelled a special congregation at the last minute, citing “security reasons”.

But following the death of the former President, the debate to name the university after him has been ignited again.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has brought back the issue by proposing naming the UDS after the late former President Rawlings.

He argued that late President Rawlings single-handedly established UDS against all difficulties at the time.

Speaking at the 21st congregation of UDS in Tamale on Saturday, President Akufo-Addo stated that though former President Rawlings was not in support of naming the university after him, it would be more appropriate to honour him with it now.

“He respectfully declined the honour and offer because of his principle not to have national monuments and facilities named after him. Notwithstanding these sentiments and with all due respect to him, it is my strong belief that such an honour should be accorded him,” President Akufo-Addo stated.

We, like many other Ghanaians, are excited about the President’s proposal and join hands with him to urge the university to name UDS after former President Rawlings.

He deserves the honour because he contributed to what the university is today and in order that we do not forget, we must immortalise him for generations yet unborn to learn about his good deeds.

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