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Akufo-Addo begins 2nd term; pledges strong economy, jobs

BY: Donald Ato Dapatem & Chris Nunoo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo began his second term yesterday, promising to preoccupy himself with the building of pathways that would create jobs for young people.

He said the last four years had taught him that Ghanaians would no longer accept poverty and deprivation as their portion, but were rather determined to work to chart a path of growth and development for themselves.

Consequently, he said: “Establishing a strong economy and 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.”

President Akufo-Addo said this in his inaugural address after he had taken the Oath of Allegiance and the Presidential Oath, administered by the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, before Parliament on the precincts of Parliament House.

Support

The President said in the next four years there would be tremendous efforts to create the Ghana everybody wanted to see: “ the democratic, free, prosperous and united Ghana envisioned by our founder fathers as the Black Star of Africa”.

Therefore, he called for the support and contribution of all citizens.

Taking a look at his first term, he said: “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,” President Akufo-Addo said.

August occasion

The event attracted close to two dozen of Heads of State, representatives of more than 12 countries, as well as leaders of international organisations.

Also present were members of the Council of State, heads of the security agencies, traditional leaders, members of the clergy and some prominent members of the Ghanaian society.

Prominent among them were former President John Agyekum Kufuor and the wife of the late former Vice-President Aliu Mahama, Mrs Ramatu Mahama.

Parliament was convened by its new Speaker, Mr Albert Kingsford Sumana Bagbin.

The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, with the Holy Koran in his hand, was the first to take the Oath of Allegiance and the Presidential Oath administered by the Chief Justice.

Maturing democracy

President Akufo-Addo said his re-election with a clear margin of over 500,000 votes was a demonstration of the confidence reposed in him, appreciation for the achievements he had chalked up in the first four years, as well as the considerable amount of work to be executed to drive the nation onto the path of progress, prosperity and development.

He said just like his predecessors Presidents Jerry John Rawlings and Kufuor, he had been blessed with two terms and thanked God and Ghanaians for renewing his mandate, adding that the accomplishment of the mandate was going to take place within the context of Ghana’s maturing democracy.

“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 citizens and not spectators,” he said.

Economy

Touching on the economy, the President said even in the face of the COVID-19, Ghana continued to show resilience and a faster rate of recovery than originally envisaged, saying it was, indeed, one of the fastest growing economies in the world in 2020.

He explained that Ghana remained 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 that fact.

Quality services

The President said the implementation of the free senior high school (SHS) policy, which many said was impossible, had made SHS education the minimum to be received by every Ghanaian child.

He noted that access to quality health care was no longer a luxury ordinary people could not afford, following the revival of the National Health Insurance Scheme, and assured the people that “our aim is to reach universal health coverage as soon as possible”.

He said food production had increased, and a conscious effort had been made to improve the living standards of farmers with the construction of warehouses across the country where the surpluses are stored for export to neighbouring countries, while the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs had become the veritable rock on which the successful future of agriculture was being built.

“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,” he said.

In that regard, he said, the remaining 15 per cent of communities without electricity would be covered by the end of his second term.

President Akufo-Addo added that the construction of hospitals had already begun in the remaining districts that did not have them, a process which would 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,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Roads/rail

“Our roads are being constructed at a much faster pace than before, and, yes, I acknowledge there are still many more kilometres to construct,” he added.

The President said last year was declared ‘The Year of Roads’ and assured Ghanaians that this year would be the second ‘Year of Roads’.

He said the development of the rail sector, on which considerable resources and energies were being devoted, would open up the country and lead to the creation of a more connected society and also help realise the goal of regional and continental integration.

Speaker congratulated

President Akufo-Addo congratulated the newly elected Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, on his new position.

“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,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo expressed confidence that both of them would be guided in their relationship by the supreme interest of our people in ensuring good governance in 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,” he said.