He made the remark during the 38th anniversary of the June 4 Uprising, which was marked in Wa, the Upper West Regional capital.
Struggling to restrain himself, the former president spoke about why the party lost the 2016 elections by a margin he described as a “disgraceful failure.”
He decried the spate of corruption that has characterized the political climate over the past few years, describing it as a thousand times more than what prevailed prior to the June 4 uprising.
The former president, fondly called Papa J, noted, “If we are unable to restore a firm measure of integrity into our dealings, then the blood of many would have been shed in vain.”
He dismissed the ‘lame horse’ view offered by Mr John Mahama for the party’s defeat in the election.
“If you ride a lame horse into a race and you lose the race, your priority must be to cure the lameness of the horse,” Mahama said in April to indicate that the NDC was not sound at the time it was going for the elections, thus its overwhelming defeat by the New Patriotic Party (NPP), with Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the party’s then standard bearer.
But angry Rawlings stated, “The disgraceful failure of 2016 was because the leadership of the party abandoned the values of June 4.”
Mr Mahama, who attended a June 4 lecture in Accra on Friday, was conspicuously absent in Wa where he might have sensed that the heat would be turned on his failed government.
“Not too long ago, I thought we heard the jockeys claiming the horses were responsible for this disgraceful failure…..
“For me, we lost our masses because we betrayed the values of June 4.” Mr Rawlings observed.
He continued, “If this horse-jockey business cannot be resolved comprehensively, allowing integrity, most of all, to prevail, then let both of them step aside and allow for fresh leaders with solid integrity to provide the needed leadership.”
He said the NDC wasted many opportunities to revert to its founding principles.
“We squandered many opportunities to clean up and to restore the June 4 principles in the party. “…Nobody is saying don’t make money, make it good and clean. … It’s sickening the kind of greed and selfishness prevailing, look at where it landed us.”
According to Papa J, the corruption of the Generals executed pales considerably when compared to the corruption that engulfed the NDC government, with endorsement of its leaders.
Mr Rawlings repeated his complaint that the party ‘squandered opportunities’ to rid itself of corrupt elements during the tenure of President Mills and later President Mahama.
Tired that his calls fell on deaf eyes, Rawlings revealed he contemplated leaving the party he founded and which has dominated the 4th Republic with 16 years in power.
But he was dissuaded from ‘jumping off the train’ because “such a departure would allow the enemies of greed, avarice and dishonesty to further deepen their claws on you and the party.
“…the only thing that has prevented me from doing so is the plight of the many good people.”
Earlier in his speech, Mr Rawlings promised to refrain from his characteristic explosive speeches.
“I have decided to postpone the boom inside my stomach,” he said jokingly.
But a few minutes into the speech, the former President appeared to have reverted to his characteristic posture for public political speeches.
He said under the immediate past NDC government, some officials amassed wealth and “used money as a political weapon to become kingmakers.
“If I was doing it this way, if my colleagues were doing it this way, would any of them be where they are today?”
He used the occasion to also demand a change in the leadership of the party.
He told the crowd, “Without new leaders, the NDC can never come back to power.”
He continued, “If we are unable to restore a fair measure of integrity into our dealings, then the blood of many would have been shed in vain.
“If we cannot get our claws off to allow for fresh leadership to emerge, then we shall sink even further.”
Former President Rawlings said very cruel insults and humiliations had been designed, and are still being designed, to shed off any influence that he still commands in the NDC, “a party that was built on the principles of June 4.”
The former president, who spoke from both a prepared speech as well as extempore, said so much fire was burning inside him but claimed that he had been advised to hold back by some leading members of the party who feared his heavy criticism would affect the party adversely after a bad electoral defeat.
He did not hesitate to lay the blame for the loss on the failure of the leadership in both party and government to listen to the admonishment that there were serious issues affecting the way the country was being managed.
“Your ears were blocked…you wouldn’t listen…when you got kicked out, disgraced…that’s when I thought now you will listen,” Mr. Rawlings said.