The former President made the remark while speaking at 12th Annual Lecture organised by the University of Ibadan Alumni Association, UIAA, Ekiti State branch.
Rawlings, who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event, advised Nigerians to endeavour to get people of integrity into leadership position who will have the interest of the country at heart.
Speaking further, the Ghanaian leader said African challenges have to do with leadership that lacks character, stressing that “by character, I mean distinctive qualities that overcome the challenges we have as constituencies and organisations.
He said: “Let’s learn to be gracious. I am sad over the mean behaviour of my fellow black men. African countries are plagued with several challenges such as agriculture, deforestation, bad economy, governance, education amongst others.”
Rawlings who was the Special Guest of Honour at the event said that he is worried by the rating of Nigeria and Ghana in terms of high rate of corruption by Transparency International (TI) . According to him : “Transparency International shows that countries in the South South region of Africa failed to address corruption and that Ghana and Nigeria rate high in corruption indices. However, some leaders have the will but not the character to fight corruption. The fight against corruption in Nigeria calls for integrity and wise approach so that it will not conflict with the lives of the people”.
He added that when Nigeria fights corruption rightly, it will not only augur well for Nigeria but Africa and the world generally, as he maintained that Nigeria commands about 75 per cent of the African population.
“Nigeria has the pride and integrity. Most African countries cannot meddle with you people”, Rawlings said.
In his lecture, Dr. Makanjuola Owolabi who was also the Guest Lecturer with the theme: “Leadership with Character” recommended active participation in Nigerian politics especially at the grass root levels by all those who really graduated from Nigeria Universities and Polytechnics.
According to him,”We must also change our attitude to politics and governance of winner takes it all, of revenge, vendetta, vengeance, exclusion, extreme partisanship, wickedness and sadism which have been excluding close to 80 per cent of Nigerians in government activities and expenditures at all levels”.
“Instead we need urgently a political class in greater numbers of good leaders with the right characters and attitudes who are ready to serve and work passionately for peace, progress and prosperity of Nigeria, he added”.
Dr. Owolabi also said from his aerospace and human factors insight and experience while providing statutorily mandatory training for pilots, engineers and others, there are a total of seven dangerous character traits or attitudes that are responsible for all failures, accidents and disasters in any area of human endeavors.
These traits, he listed as “complacency, anti-authority, invulnerability, “peculiar Ignorance, Culture and Tradition”, impulsiveness, resignation and macho attitude or machoism”.