Democracy needs nurturing — President Akufo-Addo
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reminded Ghanaians to bear in mind that democracy is not a static achievement but a process that needs continuous nurturing.
“We must remind ourselves that in our country’s political history, it is the restoration of Parliament to its proper place that has always symbolised the restoration of power to the people,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo made the call when he delivered a message on the State of the Nation to Parliament in Accra yesterday.
He described Parliament as the symbol of democracy and its values, saying that the country had chosen to travel on the path of democracy and at the heart of that journey was the idea that the government could only govern with the consent of the people.
He said after 30 years of democratic practice, Ghanaians might be tempted to take it for granted and that there was a need to remind all, including the young ones with no personal recollection, of the struggles that got to this point in its development.
“In the same way that only a small percentage of our population can recall life under colonial rule, similarly the memory of dictatorship, one-party rule and military rule is receding into the dim past and the struggles that have brought us so far are disappearing into the recesses of history,” President Akufo-Addo added.
However, he said because Parliament, directly represented the citizens, it would always be a reminder of those struggles.
He said the early years of the return to democracy were fraught with challenges but the years had seen the deepening of democratic culture to a point where a candidate of the Minority side in Parliament, presided as the Speaker.
President Akufo-Addo noted that given the way the numbers shaped up in this House after the 2020 elections, many cynics and sceptics predicted a doomsday scenario for this Parliament.
He said instead of a meltdown, Ghanaians had witnessed considerable cooperation and unity of purpose among all parties and factions.
“This is to a large extent a measure of the maturity of our political culture and democracy. We will need even more of such bi-partisan maturity to meet the challenges confronting us at this time,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said the country currently had complete freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and political affiliation.
He said the freedom of speech had now reached such heights that even members of the diplomatic corps felt able to join in the national discourse and pronounce on matters that would be problematic for Ghanaian diplomats in their countries of origin.
“Nevertheless, it seems to me the important thing in our free speech environment is actually to try and hear each other, instead of raising the decibel level of our individual points of view,” he added.