By Emmanuel Akli
Over forty solid years in the wilderness, amid insults, public ridicule, outright insults of his personality and that of his family, and his resilience to withstand all this political madness, finally bore fruits on Saturday, when he held the national sword, and lifted it up after taking the oath office to signify his coronation as the new President of Ghana.
This is the interesting story of Akyem Abuakwa and Akwapem-born Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana.
Since 1975, Nana Akufo-Addo has been involved in Ghanaian politics, with the highlights being his strong opposition to General Acheampong’s Union Government, and the battle with Jerry Rawlings’ dictatorship – a struggle which resulted in the latter’s decision to accept democracy, which ushered Ghana into the Fourth Republic in 1992.
After studying his seniors for some time, Nana Addo decided to go for the ultimate – contest the presidential election under the democracy he had helped to bring to Ghanaians, but his first attempt in 1998 failed, as he was beaten by former President Kufuor in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) primary.
After serving as Attorney General and later as Foreign Minister, President Akufo-Addo realised he had cut his teeth well, and, therefore, decided to have another shot at the presidency, but even though he won the NPP primary, he failed at the national level, as his opponent, President John Mills, won the presidential election – and that was in 2008.
President Akufo-Addo’s second shot at the presidency was in 2012, where he was, once again, beaten, but this time, by former President John Mahama.
After unsuccessfully challenging the results of the election that declared President Mahama the winner, Nana went back to the drawing board and succeeded, this time, at his third attempt.
This rich history of his political journey, coupled with the good name he had carved for himself, made his coronation at the Black Star Square a part of history everybody wanted to be associated with.
Most Ghanaians, from far and near, trooped to the Black Star Square in droves as early as Friday evening, hoping to grab a seat to witness the coronation the next day. Though most of them were turned away by security personnel, for lack of accreditation, the resilient ones slept around the Accra Sports Stadium, with the hope of having access to the venue the following day.
The desire to enter the Black Star Square went overboard on Saturday morning, as thousands of Ghanaians from all parts of the country went to the venue, thus giving the security personnel extra work. The well-organised nature of the ceremony, however, made it virtually impossible for anyone to break the rules.
When the invited guests started arriving, it was beautiful scene to observe, as the crowds kept on surging forward to catch glimpses of the high profile personalities who had arrived.
The arrival of former Presidents Kufuor, Mahama and the ‘Show Boy’ – Jerry John Rawlings, who had earlier reconciled with the former Mayor of Accra, Okoe Vanderpuiye, after snubbing him during President Mahama’s last State of the Nation Address on Thursday, were all greeted with thunderous applause. The entire Black Star Square and surrounding areas, including the Accra Sports Stadium and parts of the ministries, went agog when the then President-elect and his vice made a triumphant entry into the Square.
Dressed in an elegant kente cloth, Nana Addo waved to the crowd as he got down from his chauffeur–driven car, escorted by his two ceremonial aides the camp – the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Sampson Oje and the Inspector General of Police, John Kudalor – before he was ushered onto his seat on the dais.
If Nana Addo’s entry into the square set the place agog, the cheers that followed his call up by the Speaker of Parliament – Prof Aron Oquaye – to the special stand that had been erected for the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, to administer his oath of office, could best be described as ‘madness’. Both the aged, young, strong and the weak all stood up with uncontrollable cheers until the Speaker intervened with the order, order shout.
With the elegant cloth properly strapped to his body, and the invited guests, which included President Alhassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Mahammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe, and a host of others looking at him with rapt attention, Nana Addo took the oath word by word, as mentioned by the CJ, without any blemish, and received wild cheers when that part of the ceremony ended.
With the whole ceremony going according to plan, Nana Addo, after displaying the sword of office handed to him by the CJ, mounted the podium and addressed the gathering, and Ghanaians in general, with his baritone voice, which was occasionally hoarse as a result of speeches upon speeches he had delivered after being declared winner of the December 7 elections.
The speech itself was straight to the point – warning his party followers that he would not entertain corruption. “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.
“We must create wealth and restore happiness to our nation. 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,” he said.
Enter the congratulation stage, which was a delight to watch, as all the invited presidents took their turn to congratulate the new president. Madam Rebecca Akufo-Addo, wife of Nana Addo, who could not control her tears of joy as the ceremony proceeded, was the first to be allowed to congratulate her husband, and she did so with love, as she embraced him (Nana), who had this time been allowed to sit in the presidential seat.
Former President Kufuor, with the support of his walking stick, managed to climb the dais to congratulate his former Foreign Minister.
The ‘boom man’, Mr. Jerry Rawlings, who had driven a few minutes away from his Boom Junction residence to the Black Star Square, also walked to the dais to congratulate his once fearless critic.
He was followed by President Mahama, who held the hand of his wife, Lordina, and went to also congratulate the President, with the two sharing jokes.