I extend a hearty akwaaba, our word of welcome, to their Excellencies, the distinguished leaders of sister states from our region and continent, as well as to eminent representatives from other friendly nations and international organisations, who are gathered here in the vibrant city of Accra, capital of Ghana, to join us on this auspicious occasion.
I thank each and every one of you for being present at this inauguration of my second mandate, COVID-19 notwithstanding. Your attendance is an expression of solidarity and friendship that speaks volumes of your attachment to the goals and aspirations of the Ghanaian people and State, for which we are very grateful.
I must, at the outset, express my warm congratulations to my good friend and colleague of many years in this House, the Rt. Hon. Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, on his assumption of office as the Speaker of the Eighth Parliament of the 4th Republic. Nearly three decades of devoted service to Parliament by you has culminated in this moment, which has seen your elevation to the third great office of state of our nation.
Together, you and I will be chartering new territory in the governance and politics of the 4th Republic, for this is the first time in the life of this Republic that a President from one party will be obliged, by the exigencies of the moment and the will of the people, to work, in all sincerity and co-operation, with a Speaker of Parliament from another party.
I am confident that both of us will be guided in our relationship by the supreme interest of our people in ensuring good governance in the ordering of the affairs of state. I want to assure you of my wholehearted determination to work with you to advance the peace, progress and prosperity of the Ghanaian people. Once again, many congratulations to you and the re-elected and new Members of Parliament.
A few moments ago, I took, for the second time, the oath of office to serve as President of the Republic of Ghana. I follow in the exalted footsteps of two of my predecessors, the 1st and 2nd Presidents of the 4th Republic, their Excellencies Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor, who served two successive terms in office. I, cannot, therefore, take this honour and privilege bestowed on my modest self lightly, and I thank Almighty God and the Ghanaian people, who, by an emphatic margin, renewed my mandate in office for four more years, in the elections of 7th December.
It is a demonstration of the confidence and trust you, the Ghanaian people, have reposed in me, not only in appreciation for the achievements chalked throughout my first four (4) years, but more significantly for the considerable amount of work that is to be done over the next four (4) years, in our drive to take our nation firmly onto the path of progress, prosperity and development, following the havoc wreaked by COVID-19.
This is a task I wholeheartedly accept, and I assure all Ghanaians that I will do my utmost to deliver on this mandate.
The accomplishment of this mandate is going to take place within the context of Ghana’s maturing democracy. The Ghanaian people have manifested, time and again, in these twenty-eight (28) years of the 4th Republic, their determination to build a free, democratic, peaceful nation, which is respectful of individual liberties and human rights, the rule of law, and the principles of democratic accountability.
A governance structure built on the separation of powers provides the best vehicle for the protection of these values, with a well-resourced Judiciary and Parliament as the principal accountability organs of the State. This has been the main thrust of public policy in these past four years, and will continue to be so in the next. The unity and stability of our country are the welcome outcomes of such a development.
This is how we can ensure, in the words of one of the great figures of Ghanaian nationalism, the illustrious Joseph Boakye Danquah, that we have “a system of government under which those who are in control of government are under the control of those who are governed”.
The sheer can-do-spirit of the Ghanaian, which I have witnessed all my life, is the bedrock on which we can build the Ghana of our dreams. Indeed, four years ago, at my first inauguration, I urged all Ghanaians to be, and I quote, “citizens and not spectators”. I appealed to you to be active participants in the effort to help build the Ghana we want – the democratic, free, prosperous and united Ghana envisioned by our founding fathers as the Black Star of Africa.
In my first term as President, I was able to count on the contribution of all citizens in attempting to create this Ghana. What I have seen these last four years is further evidence, if any were needed, that the Ghanaian will no longer accept poverty and deprivation as his or her portion, but is rather determined to work to chart a path of growth and development for himself or herself.
Today, our economy, even in the face of the global pandemic of COVID-19, continues to show resilience and a much faster rate of recovery than originally envisaged, and was, indeed, one of the fastest growing economies in the world in 2020. Ghana remains one of the most attractive destinations on the continent for foreign direct investment, with the presence in the country of some of the world’s largest conglomerates attesting to this fact. Establishing a strong economy, undergoing structural transformation to value-added activities, which will generate jobs for our young people and enhance their living standards, will be the main preoccupation of my second term.
Together, we are ensuring that the basic tenets of social justice are met. Many said it was beyond us, but we have ensured that financial considerations no longer determine the fate of the Ghanaian child. Because of the implementation of the Free Senior High School policy, once willing and able, senior high school education is the minimum education to be received by every Ghanaian child. Access to quality healthcare is no more a luxury ordinary people cannot afford, following the revival of the National Health Insurance Scheme. Our aim is to reach Universal Health Coverage as soon as possible.
Food production has increased significantly, and a conscious effort has been made to improve the living standards of our farmers. The newly constructed warehouses dotted across the country are storing the surpluses for export to our neighbours, and the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs has become the veritable rock on which the successful future of our agriculture is being built.
Our roads are being constructed at a much faster pace than before, and, yes, I acknowledge there are still many more kilometres to construct. We defined last year as ‘The Year of Roads’. This year will be the second ‘Year of Roads’, as we continue with our focus on dealing with the deficit in our road infrastructure. The development of our rail sector, on which considerable resources and energies are being devoted, will open up the country, and lead to the creation of a more connected society, and will, also, help realise the goal of regional and continental integration.
The arrival of COVID-19 drove home the lesson to all of us that we have to be self-reliant. The pandemic has emphasised the fact that we cannot continue to be living on edge in a day-to-day economy. This is dangerous for our survival, and it is important that we set up buffers of protection in all aspects of our lives.
So, when there was a shortage in the supply of personal protective equipment, at a time when they were being sold at extortionist prices on the world market, the enterprise of the Ghanaian shone through. We produced, right here in Ghana, our own sanitisers, face masks, medical scrubs, gowns, liquid soap amongst others.
We can, indeed, build a Ghana Beyond Aid, if we make full use, as we must, of the enterprise and ingenuity of our people, especially our young people. The prominent role being played by young people in the digitisation journey of our nation is strong proof of the feasibility of this objective, and Ghana is set to become one of the most digitised economies in Africa in the next few years.
In this same vein, I expect the locally produced Eku juice, one of the results of Government’s “One-District-One-Factory” flagship policy, to replace rapidly the imported fruit juices on the shelves of our supermarkets, not because anyone will so decree, but because the quality of the locally produced one is as good, if not superior.
I doubt that anyone would, ordinarily, mention akpeteshie, the local gin, as a possible item on the world market. I cannot vouch for its taste or potency, since I gave up alcohol many years ago, but I can say that the Made in Ghana and beautifully packaged “Apio”, I have recently seen, can compete in the most sophisticated markets in the world.
My boundless confidence in the energy of the Ghanaian makes me believe that we can become the prosperous nation we aspire to, and soon. We have good reason to be proud of what we have been able to achieve so far.
Mr Speaker, we know that the democracy we seek to build and entrench in Ghana will ultimately succeed if we build a prosperous nation, and our people are at peace with themselves and with the world.
I pledge before this august House and the good people of Ghana that all I do will be for the common good, and, with the firm foundation laid in my first term of office, we shall take a significant step towards reducing the infrastructure deficit that has plagued us all throughout our nationhood.
The remaining fifteen percent (15%) of our communities without electricity would be covered by the end of my second term. We have already begun constructing hospitals in the remaining districts that do not have one – a process which will be completed within a year. The percentage of Ghanaians without access to potable water is set to reduce significantly, following the commencement of work on a number of water supply projects across all parts of the country. The majority of our people live in unacceptable housing, and we shall tackle the problem with vigour.
With discipline and caution, just as we have done since March 2020, we, in Ghana, can continue to reduce the number of active cases of COVID-19, which currently stands at a little over nine hundred (900), and open up our country again to the rest of the region, continent and the entire world. We have taken the bold step of re-opening all our schools again, because of our fundamental conviction that education is the key to our future. We will do everything possible to ensure not only the safety of the children, but of teachers and non-teaching staff as well.
We, Ghanaians, have always been very much aware of our place in our neighbourhood, in our continent and in the world. We recognise that poverty and insecurity plague our region, and, thus, we shall continue to work to make our voice carry the weight of our convictions and contribute to making our world a safer and happier place. We shall play our full part in the deliberations and activities of all the organisations to which we belong – ECOWAS, the African Union, Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the United Nations and the others.
Ghana, which has the privilege of hosting the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, intends to be one of the main drivers of its success. The AfCFTA provides us, Africans, with a great opportunity to exploit and develop our resources for the benefit of our own people, and end the centuries-old exploitation of our continent’s vast wealth for the benefit of others.
In the words of the historic first leader of our nation, the celebrated Kwame Nkrumah, “it is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world”.
To my fellow Ghanaians, I invite all of you to join in the exciting business of developing our country. There are endless opportunities, if we remain united. What our forebears dreamed of, we will achieve! If we inherited dreams and visions from our founding fathers, we should leave legacies of achievements and realities to our children and their children. For, I believe in the limitless prospects of Ghana and of us, her people. So, let us be up and doing, and, with faith in the Almighty, seize our destiny.
Mr. Speaker, may God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
Your Excellencies, once again, akwaaba.
I thank you for your attention.