President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo wielding the sword of Office as Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia takes the oath of Office with the Holy Quran from Chief Justice Georgina Wood
Finally, the man who many, especially members in the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration said could never become the President of Ghana, was sworn into office over the weekend amidst pomp and pageantry.
On Saturday, Ghanaians and the rest of the world witnessed the investiture of 72-year-old Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who made history as the first president to occupy the highest office with his father.
The colourful event, which took place at the famous Independence Square [Black Star Square] saw many from all walks of life from both far and near in attendance.
The event was attended by several heads of states and governments, especially from the African continent.
The economist, renowned lawyer and politician on Saturday took the Oath of Allegiance and the Presidential Oath administered by Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood.
The investiture was witnessed by thousands of local and foreign spectators at the Black Star Square while millions watched it live on television.
The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, 54, an economist and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), was also sworn in by the Chief Justice at the ceremony.
The programme was presided over by the new Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Aaron Oquaye.
After all the dignitaries, including the immediate past President, John Mahama and his predecessors, Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor, took their seats, the new Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and wife Hajia Samira Ramadan-Bawumia arrived for the occasion followed by President Akufo-Addo and his wife Rebecca Akufo-Addo in splendid Kente cloth which was dominant at the event.
After he took the oath, the new president was given the sword to symbolize the authority of his office.
There was massive human and vehicular traffic in the precinct of the Independence Square.
The entire area was adorned with the national colours of red, gold and green and many enthusiastic supporters of New Patriotic Party (NPP) were dressed in the blue, white and red colours of the party.
In his inaugural speech, Nana Akufo-Addo, who is now the Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), called on all Ghanaians to rally round the flag to help develop the nation, which drew intermittent applause from the cheering crowd.
He left many Ghanaians with several memorable quotes to motivate them.
“I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation. Let us work until the work is done,” he stated.
He also quoted Galatians 6:9 which states “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” to support his call.
“I assure you, my fellow citizens, who have entrusted me with this mandate, that I will advance my convictions with civility, I will serve the public interest with courage, I will speak for greater justice as well as compassion, and I will call for responsibility and I will live it, as well. This is my solemn pledge.”
Sixty years after attaining nationhood from the British colonial masters, Nana Addo indicated that “we no longer have any excuses for being poor, I stand here today, humbled beyond measure for the opportunity to lead this country at this time and take us to a higher level in our development.”
To achieve that, he insisted “we will have to work hard, harder than we have ever done before; and the hard work will be done by all of us, and not just some.”
“There will be discipline in all sectors of our lives; and this applies to all of us, not just some.”
“We must restore integrity in public life. State coffers are not spoils for the party that wins an election, but resources for the country’s social and economic development. I shall protect the public purse by insisting on value-for-money in all public transactions. Public service is just that – service and not an avenue for making money. Money is to be made in the private sector, not the public. Measures will be put in place to ensure this,” he stated.
He added: “We will build a confident Ghana which is united, at peace with itself and takes pride in its diversity.
The new president stressed the need to create wealth and restore happiness to the nation.
He indicated that “we can only do this when we have an educated and skilled population that is capable of competing in the global economy.”
“We must expand our horizons and embrace science and technology as critical tools for our development.”
“We believe that the business of government is to govern. Ours is to set fair rules. We will provide vision and direction and shine the light down the path of our entrepreneurs and farmers. We are, indeed, counting on a vibrant private sector to drive growth and create jobs,” he stated.
President Nana Akufo-Addo said “we will stimulate the creative juices of innovators. We will bring back to life the adventurer in you. It is time to imagine and to dream again; time to try that business idea again. We will reduce taxes to recover the momentum of our economy.”
He declared “the doors of Ghana are open again. The shutters are up again. There could not be a better opportunity to “Make in Ghana,” and to make it in Ghana. Ghana is open for business again!”
“We will rekindle the spirit that made Ghana the leading light on the African continent, and make our conditions deserving of that accolade. We will work with our neighbours and friends on the continent to enhance peace, democracy and political stability in our part of the world.”
“We will reassert vigorously the Pan African vocation to which our nation has been dedicated. Integration of our region and of our continent will be a strategic objective of Ghanaian policy.”
Also, he indicated that “our public service will be accorded the dignity and respect it deserves, and be made to attract the bright young people it needs.”
While acknowledging the fact that there would always be the need for a safety net for the vulnerable in our society, as in all other societies, Nana Akufo-Addo stressed that “our nation will work when the marginalised and vulnerable are catered for and treated with respect.”
Aside that, he said “our elderly people will be recognised for their roles in building Ghana and assured of care in the dusk of their lives.”
“It will not be easy,” President Akufo-Addo insisted, “but we have no illusions whatsoever about the enormity of the task that we face, but I know that Ghanaians at home and abroad will rise to the occasion; they always do.”
“It will require sacrifice, but it can be done with the belief that others have done it. So can we. Our best days still lie ahead.”
“Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Ghanaians have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us,” he said confidently.
The new president said “the rule of law will be the underlying tenet of our lives; and the law will be applicable to all of us, and not just some.”
He was of the belief that “being a Ghanaian must stand for something more than the holder of a birth certificate or a certain passport.”
“Calling yourself a Ghanaian must mean you have signed up to a certain definable code and conduct. Being a Ghanaian puts an obligation on each one of us to work at building a fair, prosperous and happy nation. And calling yourself a Ghanaian must mean we look out for each other. There should be no higher praise than to be able to say I am a Ghanaian,” were his exact words.
For him, “It is time to make sure that we have a true separation of powers between the various arms of government. Our Parliament, the legislative arm of government, must grow into its proper role as effective machinery for accountability and oversight of the Executive, and not be its junior partner.”
“The Ghanaian Parliament, the Ghanaian Member of Parliament, must stand out as institutions that represent all that we hold dear and citizens can take pride in.”
“Our judiciary, he said, “must inspire confidence in the citizens, so we can all see the courts as the ultimate arbiters when disputes arise, as they would. A Ghanaian judge must be a reassuring presence and the epitome of fairness.”
“We have worked with our national constitution for 24 years and we now know the areas that require change. I believe a consensus is emerging that we must decentralize more. We must devolve more power with corresponding resources to the base of our political system and to our people, in the regions and communities. We must trust the individual and collective wisdom and good sense of our people,” President Akufo-Addo declared.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu