Read the full address by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the national celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr at the Independence Square in Accra on Friday, June 15.
ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC,
NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO,
AT THE EID-UL-FITR CELEBRATION, AT THE INDEPENDENCE SQUARE, ACCRA,
ON FRIDAY, 15TH JUNE, 2018.
I salute you with the greetings of peace in Islam, Asalam Alaikum! We thank the Almighty Allah for seeing us through one month of fasting, prayer and devotion to his cause. We give gratitude and praise to Him for the life of our nation, and for the lives of all Ghanaians. I pay tribute this morning to our learned National Chief Imam, Shaykh Dr. Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, for his leadership and guidance of the Muslim Ummah in Ghana. Shaykh, it is to your credit that the Muslim Ummah continues to live in harmony with one another. We pray for Allah’s continuous blessing for you. If Islam is to live up to its accolade as a religion of peace, it behooves on all Muslims to embrace one another, irrespective of doctrinal differences.
Indeed, our country stands unique in West Africa, both in terms of inter and intra religious co-operation. Ghana is home to persons of virtually every religious denomination. They all go about their religious practices without hindrance. We ought to guard this tradition of religious co-operation and tolerance jealously. The one month period of intense devotion to God will have little meaning if it does not continue to reflect in our attitude as Ghanaians. The Prophet Muhammad, (Peace be upon Him) (Sallallahu Allayhi Wa’Salam), is reported to have urged Muslims, who are provoked in the month of Ramadan, to say, “we are fasting.” I believe that this response to provocation, which engenders peace in Muslim communities during Ramadan, should be cultivated as an everyday response to provocation. “A Muslim is the brother/sister of another Muslim,” so says the Prophet of Islam. It is this spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood that should guide our responses to one another, not only as Muslims, but as Ghanaians.
Chief Imam, Ulama, when it comes to the spirit of living together, we are the envy of many nations. Today, many Muslim homes will play host to Christian neighbours and friends, as we all eat and drink and share in the glory of God. As a Christian President, I have a Muslim as my Vice President. I have a Cabinet made up of Muslims and Christians, and in which both Christian and Muslim prayers are said at every meeting. On 7th January this year, we celebrated 25 years of the 4th Republic, the longest lasting Republic of our history, holding for the first time in our national life on that day an official inter-faith service of commemoration and thanksgiving to God. Christian and Muslim religious leaders came together to conduct that service, in the presence of the four living Presidents of the 4th Republic, which I, daresay, was a beautiful moment for all Ghanaians. Such arrangements are rare in many countries around the world, and we ought to be proud of ourselves for being capable of doing such things. Even so, we must not be complacent. They say the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. I urge you to be on the look-out for trouble makers and hate preachers amongst us. The security agencies will not hesitate to deal with those who incite hate, not even if they do so in the name of Islam or Christianity.
My government remains committed to the welfare of the Muslim community in Ghana. The Vice President, that worthy son of Islam, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, continues to engage with Muslim communities around the country, so that we are constantly keeping abreast with the challenges of Muslim communities. He just completed his annual Ramadan tour, that brought him to many of the mosques across all ten regions of Ghana. For the second year running, he has held an iftar (fast breaking event) at the Jubilee House with Muslims of all persuasions. I want to assure you that this is a tradition we intend to keep so long as, by the grace of God, we inhabit the Jubilee House.
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When I addressed you last year, I promised you that I was going to set up a Zongo Development Fund to help cater for the development needs of the Zongo communities, as we had promised in the 2016 NPP manifesto. I am happy to report that the Fund has been set up, and, on Monday, 11th June, I inaugurated its Board, under the chairmanship of a distinguished Muslim, the Chief of Nima, Alhaji Mohammed Farl, popularly called Nii Futa. Already, the Minister responsible for Zongo and Inner-City Development, the hardworking Hon. Alhaji Boniface Abubakar Siddique, MP for Madina, has been busy about his mission. Development projects have started in many Zongo communities around the country. In Asawase, in Kumasi, for example, we have started the process of desilting the Pelele River that runs through the community. We are also building major drains in the community to stop the perennial flooding that occurs in the area, and cuts it off from the rest of Kumasi during the rainy season.
Apart from physical development, we also aim to roll out a comprehensive programme that develops the talents of our young men and women in the Zongos. We know that several of the national football icons that this country has produced have been Muslims, and many of them from Zongo communities – Baba Yara, Dogo Moro, Mohammed Salisu, Mohammed Polo, Golden Boy Abdul-Razak, Anas Seidu, Mohammed Choo, Abedi Pele, Mohammed Gargo, and Baba Amando, amongst others. We want deliberately to establish the conditions that allow our young talented Zongo youth to engage and develop their talents. To this end, the Zongo Development Minister is building Astro Turfs in Zongo communities to create a conducive environment for the training and development of sporting talent. The one being constructed in Madina, here in Accra, should be a good model.
The Prophet Mohammed, (Peace be upon Him) (Sallallahu Allayhi Wa’Salam), has admonished Muslims to “seek for knowledge even if you might travel to China.” In another vein, he says that “knowledge is the lost property of a Muslim; let him seek it wherever he may find it.” We, therefore, cannot be Muslims and ignorant at the same time. My government is committed to making education accessible to all, so that we are not just educated for life, but Muslims also fulfil their religious duty. I urge you to take advantage of the free Senior High School programme to ensure the education of your children, especially the Muslim girl. Government has also engaged some three thousand Arabic instructors to teach Arabic studies in schools.
I am very passionate about the development of women. In Islam, it is believed that “paradise lies under the feet of our mothers.” Our mothers and potential mothers cannot hope to guarantee us paradise if they are allowed to remain ignorant. Ulama, Jama! I appeal to you to pay as much attention to the education of your female children as you do to the education of your male children. The eloquent Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba, has embarked on a campaign to dissuade parents from marrying off their teenage girls. I urge you to embrace that campaign. Let us allow our Muslim girls to realise their full potential. All the Mothers of the Faithful were not just educated, but they remain, to this day, an important source of our knowledge of the precepts of Islam. And, since embracing the Sunnah is an essential part of faith, let us embrace his conduct in relation to the education of girls as well.
National Chief Imam, Ulama, Jama! I am happy to be with you once again. May the Al-mighty Allah accept our worship, bless us all and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.