President Nana Akufo-Addo has taken the presidential oath of office at the start of his second term in office with a rallying call on Ghanaians to work with him to bring the dreams of the nation’s forebears to fruition.
“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,” the President said.
“What our forebears dreamed of, we will achieve. If we inherited dreams and visions from our founding fathers, we should leave legacies of achievements to our children and their children. 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,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo, whose election is being challenged in court by his main challenger, John Dramani Mahama of the opposition National Democratic Congress, expressed gratitude to Ghanaians for giving him a second mandate to serve in the highest office of the land.
“I cannot 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,” the President said.
He described his re-election as “a demonstration of the confidence and trust” of the Ghanaian electorate “not only in appreciation for the achievements chalked throughout my first four years but more significantly for the considerable amount of work that is to be done over the next four years, in our drive to take our nation firmly onto the path of progress, prosperity and development, following the havoc wreaked by Covid-19.”
The president’s swearing-in was preceded earlier in the wee hours of the morning by chaotic scenes in parliament and subsequently the election of Alban Bagbin as Speaker of the legislature.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Tema West, Carlos Ahenkorah, snatched some of the ballots cast and as he attempted to run out of the chamber with them, he was pounced upon by some opposition MPs, some of whom were seen punching and slapping him.
Before the ballot snatching incident, some MPs were seen kicking and destroying polling booths that had been set up for the secret ballot to choose the new speaker.
The chaos was sparked by attempts by the NPP side to stop the NDC MP-elect for Assin North from participating in the vote following a Cape Coast High Court ruling placing an injunction on his swearing-in following allegations that he held Canadian citizenship and was therefore not qualified to participate in the parliamentary elections.
After several hours of heckling, Mr Bagbin beat Prof. Mike Ocquaye in the speakership contest. He was then sworn-in as Speaker with the MP for Bekwai, Joe Osei-Owusu as first deputy Speaker and the independent MP for Fomena as second deputy Speaker.
It was only after the allocation of these slots that the newly-elected MPs were sworn-in. The House was then suspended for a couple of hours in preparation for the inauguration of President Akufo-Addo.
The NDC MPs, however, refused to attend the inauguration ceremony, a boycott which will not come as a surprise to many Ghanaians considering that the party’s candidate in the presidential election, John Mahama is contesting the results of the polls at the Supreme Court.
At the start of his inaugural address, President Akufo-Addo made no reference specifically to the chaotic scenes earlier in the day in parliament but congratulated Mr Bagbin, who served for seven terms as MP for Nadowli-Kaleo, on his election as Speaker of Parliament.
“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,” the President said.
“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,” he added.
On the outlook for his second term, President Akufo-Addo vowed to focus on the nation’s economic development and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “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 a 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.”
The president promised that by the end of his second term, 15 percent of Ghanaian communities without access to electricity will be connected to the national grid. He also announced plans by his government to significantly reduce the number of Ghanaians with little to no access to potable water.