The first Gentleman of this country, Mr. J. A. Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana to deliver his inaugural address to the nation.
Inaugural Address by the President
President of the Republic of ghana (Mr. J. A. Kufuor): Your Excellencies Brother Presidents, Your Excellencies Vice-Presidents, Hon. Speakers of the Parliaments of Ghana and Ethiopia, Distinguished Representatives of friendly nations, My Lord Chief Justice, hon. Members of Parliament, Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Our Respected Traditional Rulers, Distinguished Guests, Fellow Ghanaians,
I thank the Almighty God for this day; and I thank you, my compatriots, for the great honour you have bestowed on me by giving me the opportunity to lead this nation for another four-year term.
Four years ago, I swore before the nation that I would be President to every Ghanaian, and not discriminate against anybody by reason of tribe, gender, creed or political affiliation. I pledged to tackle the economic and social quagmire in which the country had been wallowing for decades. I pledged that the Rule of Law would be the guiding principle under my administration, and I pledged to start a reconciliation process to rekindle hope and restore our people to harmony.
In a little over two years, Ghana will attain the 50th anniversary of her nationhood, and it would be my honour and privilege to preside over the celebrations. Thinking of the prospect reminds me of the very high hopes and extravagant aspirations of the early days of the
nation's independence in 1957, when it appeared to the nation that everything was immediately achievable. The belief then, was that political independence would be accompanied by instant economic success.
It appeared Ghana had all that was required to make a success of nationhood. There were abundant foreign exchange reserves in the Central Bank, there were vast and hardly tapped natural resources, a manageable size population of just around four (4) million people, a decent educational system and a well-trained public service.
Ghana was the toast of the world. The people were euphoric and believed that all that was needed for success was political independence. There was no example to emulate in our part of the world. After all Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence. Unfortunately, the people were to learn at great cost that there was more to nation building.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, a story is told about a conversation that took place during the independence celebrations, between the then American Vice President Richard Nixon, who represented the United States at the Independence Day celebrations, and Sir Charles Noble Arden Clarke who was the last Governor of the Gold Coast, newly turned Ghana.
Vice President Richard Nixon is reported to have asked Sir Charles: “Will it work?” In other words, Vice President Nixon was asking, will the great historical experiment they had launched, of an independent African state work?
Sir Charles is reported to have paused awhile and pondered over the question; and then answered: “It will have to work.”
Presumably he must have meant that as the first sub-Saharan country to gain independence, Ghana needed to succeed to set an example for the rest of colonial Africa.
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests and compatriots, history now shows that it has taken Ghana some 40 years to find her way out of the wilderness to establish some stability politically and economically.
It has taken many years and a lot of heartache and trauma since that day of 6th March, 1957 for this nation to begin to find her way. The country, in the process, became the experimental ground for every imaginable political ideology and system; known and unknown; including one-party rule, unigov; and military dictatorships of every description.
Within six years of independence, not only had the foreign exchange reserves disappeared, but Ghana had also joined the list of beggar nations. There were times when the nation appeared to be at war with itself, and it is not surprising that there has been a catastrophic loss of self-confidence in our body politic.
Given where we began, and how long it has taken us, and with the benefit of serious research and introspection, there is no doubt that our bane has been BAD GOVERNANCE. It is bad governance that has bedevilled every attempt at pulling Ghana out of the ranks of poor nations.
After the long years in the wilderness, the people of Ghana finally settled on the 1992 Constitution which decided on multiparty democracy as the preferred form of government.
The period since the 1992 elections now marks the longest period of constitutional rule since independence, and it has been exhilarating to see the people embrace
constitutional democracy and grow in self-confidence.
The nation has now undergone four consecutive elections and with every one, the determination of the people to defend, protect and nurture democracy has grown stronger.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, finally, this nation, so richly endowed by nature, can be said to be poised to take off in pursuit of her true destiny.
This nation, having embraced the rule of law, having stabilised the economy, and engendered an enabling atmosphere with the goodwill and support of her development partners, should be moving ahead at an accelerated pace without let or hindrance.
As I stand before you today, Ladies and Gentlemen, I can foresee a prosperous and self-confident people in a politically stable and maturing country. I see a country at peace with itself and governing itself with a clear sense of direction and accordingly to enlightened laws. I foresee a country that is aware of its place under the sun, in our subregion of West Africa, our continent of Africa and indeed, as part of the emerging global village.
To be able to realise this vision, the nation must develop its human resource base adequately. This means that Ghana must have a population that is well educated to meet the challenges of the modern world. This means we must promote good health and fight old diseases like malaria that plague us, as well as new ones like HIV/AIDS. It means the country must promote a business and entrepreneurial sector, which is able to exploit her many resources and compete effectively in the international marketplace.
And of course, the centre-piece of all our efforts should be sustained by GOOD GOVERNANCE. This is the critical pivot that ensures the peace and stability needed for development. This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what this Government is committed to, and this is what POSITIVE