Our Elders are not far from the truth when they say that, “The horns cannot be too heavy for the head of the cow that must bear them”. The process of human change begins with us since we all have tremendous potential.
We all desire good results from our efforts. Most of us are willing to work hard and to pay the price that success and happiness demand for humanity. This has been the case of H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces. He was born on 29th March, 1944 and raised in Accra.
His father's residence was effectively used as the headquarters of the country’s first political party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), after it was formed at Saltpond on 4 August 1947. Akufo-Addo's maternal grandfather, Nana Sir Ofori Atta, King of Akyem Abuakwa was a member of the Executive Council of the Governor of the Gold Coast before Ghana's independence.
Three of the “Big Six”, the founding fathers of Ghana, were also his blood relatives: Joseph Boakye Danquah was his grand-uncle, William Ofori-Atta was uncle and Edward Akufo-Addo (the third Chief Justice of Ghana and later ceremonial President of the Republic from 1969 to 1972) was his father.
Akufo-Addo received his primary education first at the Government Boys School, Adabraka, and later at the Rowe Road School (now Kinbu), both in Accra Central. He did his O-Level and A-Level examinations at Lancing College, Sussex, England. He returned to Ghana in 1962 to teach at Accra Academy Secondary School, before going to read Economics at the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1964, earning a BSc (Econ) degree in 1967. He subsequently studied law in the UK and was called to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971. Akufo-Addo was called to the Ghana bar in July 1975.
He is married to Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the daughter of judge, Jacob Hackenburg Griffiths-Randolph, (Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana during the Third Republic). Their daughters are Gyankroma Funmi, Yeboakua, Edwina Nana Douka and Adriana Dukua.
Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, rightly postulated in the speech: “Citizenship In A Republic” that, “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat."
President Akufo-Addo started his political career in his early thirties, as General Secretary of the broad-based People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ), which was composed of political stalwarts such as Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, William Ofori-Atta, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Albert Adu Boahen, Sam Okudzeto, Obed Asamoah, Godfrey Agama, K. S. P. Jantuah, Jones Ofori-Atta, Johnny Hanson and Nii Amaah Amartefio (“Mr. No”). This group led the “NO” campaign in the UNIGOV referendum of 1978, designed to solicit popular support for a one-party military-led State. The “No” campaign ultimately brought about the downfall of the Acheampong military government on 5 July 1978, and the restoration of multiparty democratic rule to the country in 1979. Akufo-Addo had to go briefly into exile after the referendum, when his life was in danger. But, from Europe, he could be heard constantly on the BBC World Service, vigorously criticizing the military rulers back in Ghana and calling for a return to democracy.
He is acknowledged as one of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement in Ghana. In 1991, Akufo-Addo was the chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Danquah-Busia Memorial Club, a club dedicated to the preservation of the memory and ideals of the two great advocates of Ghanaian democracy, J. B. Danquah and K. A. Busia, Prime Minister of the Progress Party government of the 2nd Republic of Ghana. Akufo-Addo travelled throughout Ghana to establish branches of the Club all over the country in the grassroots style for which he is known.
These branches eventually transformed into local organs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) prior to the elections of 1992, which heralded the reintroduction of democratic governance under the 4th Republic. In 1992, he was the first national organizer of the NPP and, later that year, campaign manager of the party’s first presidential candidate, Prof. Albert Adu Boahen, the man of courage who broke the “culture of silence” in Ghana and played such a crucial role in the reintroduction of democracy.
In 1992, Akufo-Addo set up and financed ‘The Statesman’ newspaper, which was to become the unofficial mouthpiece of the NPP. He was the first Chairperson of DHL (GH) Ltd; Chairperson, Kinesec Communications (Co) Ltd, publishers of The Statesman; and the first Chairperson of the Ghana Committee on Human and Peoples’ Rights. He was also responsible, through his association with the US Company, Millicom for introducing mobile telephony into the country.
Yes, he is indeed the man in the Arena!!
In 1995, President Akufo-Addo led the famous “Kume Preko” demonstrations of the Alliance For Change (AFC), a broad-based political pressure group, which mobilized hundreds of people onto the streets of Ghana to protest the harsh economic conditions of the Rawlings era. The protest took place in opposition to the Value Added Tax (VAT) initiative which was introduced under the Jerry John Rawlings administration.
It is said to have been one of the biggest protests ever organised in the country, with an estimated 100,000 people participating. Some pundits in Ghana believe that this was instrumental in re-establishing the NPP as a more formidable force after Prof. Adu Boahen. The demonstration was initially billed as a peaceful protest but quickly became violent when unidentified assailants shot live bullets into the crowd resulting in the deaths of a few protestors. And like the tree that stands in the middle of the market, it is never troubled by noise, the brave Nana Akufo-Addo still fought for his ideals and what he has always stood for.
President Akufo-Addo is well known for giving free legal assistance to the poor and fought for the rights and liberties of the Ghanaian people. Indeed, many of the important constitutional cases of the modern era, which, inter alia, protected the independence of the judiciary, the right of the citizen to demonstrate without police permit, and the right of equal access of all political parties to the State-owned media, were undertaken by him.
He has served on the boards and committees of a number of political, legal, commercial, and social organizations in the country. Legal practice saw Akufo-Addo stay in France for five years as a lawyer at the now-defunct New York-based international law firm Coudert Brothers. Apart from the welcome exposure to the dynamics of international corporate transactions, his stay in France also made him fluent in French. In 1975, he returned home to Accra to continue with his legal career.
He joined the chambers of U. V. Campbell from 1975 to 1979, and in 1979 co-founded the law firm Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co., which has become one of the prominent law firms in Ghana if not the best. Some Ghanaian lawyers who passed through his law firm are among the most outstanding lawyers at the Ghanaian bar and bench today. They include the current Chief Justice of the republic, Her Ladyship Sophia Akuffo; Hon. Gloria Akuffo (Attorney General & Minister for Justice); Joyce Darko; Daniel Afari Yeboah; Philip Addison; Hon. Joe Ghartey, a former Attorney General and Minister for Justice and current Minister for Railway Development; Alex Quaynor; Frank Davies; Kweku Paintsil; Hon. Ursula Owusu Ekufful (Minister for Communications; Hon. Samuel Atta Akyea, Akufo-Addo’s successor as MP for Abuakwa South constituency and Minister for Works & Housing; Akoto Ampaw; Yoni Kulendi; Kwame Akuffo; Kwaku Asirifi; and Hon. Godfred Dame (Deputy Attorney General & Minister for Justice). Like the “Doyen of Gold Coast politics”, J. B. Danquah, and others before him, Akufo-Addo used his law practice to champion the cause of human rights, rule of law, justice, freedom, and democracy. And as Attorney-General, he was responsible for the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law.
Akufo-Addo has never relented in any service to his people. He was elected three times between 1996 and 2008 as Member of Parliament for the Abuakwa South constituency in the Eastern region of Ghana. A position he used to offer diligent services to his people.
Light they say cannot be hidden in darkness. Despite contesting H. E. John Agyekum Kuffour in the NPP primaries of 1998, Nana Akufo-Addo was the chief campaigner for then candidate Kufuor in the 2000 election and became a Cabinet Minister in the Kuffour era. From 2001 to 2007, first as Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for two years, and later as Foreign Minister for five years, Akufo-Addo served in the government of President John Kufuor with distinction. As Attorney-General, he was responsible for the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, which, hitherto, had been used to intimidate the media and criminalize free speech. The repeal has enabled the Ghanaian media become one of the most vibrant and freest in Africa. Under his chairmanship of the Legal Sector Reform Committee, the implementation of the court automation programme was initiated.
As Foreign Minister, he was fully involved in the successful Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peace efforts in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Guinea Bissau, and was chairman of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council in 2003. In 2004, Ghana was elected as one of the 15 pioneer members of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council, a mandate that was renewed at the AU Summit in Khartoum, Sudan in January 2006. H. E Nana Akufo-Addo was chosen by his peers on the AU Executive Council to chair the Ministerial Committee of 15 that fashioned the Ezulwini Consensus, which defined the African Union’s common position on UN Reforms. He negotiated for the 2007 AU Summit to be held in Accra as part of Ghana’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, and chaired the AU Executive Council in 2007.
Ghana was elected by her peers to take the non-permanent West African seat on the UN Security Council for 2006-07. Also, in August 2006, Akufo-Addo chaired the meeting of the Security Council which took the decision that halted Israel’s massive incursions into Lebanon. Again, Ghana was elected to the new UN body, the Human Rights Council, with the highest number of votes—183 out of 191—of any country, and as a pioneer member of another UN body, the Peacebuilding Commission.
The Perseverance of a Man that Heeds a Call to Serve his Nation & the “Battle of the Pink Sheet.”
Akufo-Addo resigned from the Kufuor government in July 2007 to contest for the position of presidential candidate of his party, the NPP, for the 2008 elections. Competing against 16 others, he won 48% of the votes in the first round of that election, but was given a unanimous endorsement in the second round, making him the party’s presidential candidate.
In the 7 December 2008 presidential race, he received, in the first round, more votes than John Atta Mills, the eventual winner. In the first round, Akufo-Addo received 4,159,439 votes, representing 49.13% of the votes cast, placing him first, but not enough for the 50% needed for an outright victory.
It was the best-ever performance for a first-time presidential candidate in the Fourth Republic. In the run-off, Mills received 4,521,032 votes, representing 50.23%, thus beating Akufo-Addo by the smallest margin in Ghana’s and indeed, in Africa’s political history. Akufo-Addo accepted the results without calling even for a recount, thereby helping to preserve the peace, freedom and stability of Ghana.
Akufo-Addo again contested in the 2012 national elections against the NDC candidate, the late Mills’ successor as President, John Dramani Mahama, and lost. That election generated considerable controversy and was finally decided by the Supreme Court in a narrow 5/4 decision in favour of H. E. John Mahama in what I call the battle of the “Pink Sheets”. Akufo-Addo is credited with helping to preserve the peace of the country he loves so much by the statesman-like manner in which he accepted the adverse verdict of the Court, at a time of high tension in the country. He and his co-petitioners (Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey of blessed memory) could have rallied their supporters to take to the streets to register their displeasure especially looking at how close the verdict was. But the peace loving Akufo-Addo chose to graciously accept the verdict despite his disagreement.
In his own words “……As I said earlier, whilst I disagree with the Court’s decision, I accept it. I accept that what the Court says brings finality to the election dispute. We shall not be asking for a review of the verdict so we can all move on in the interest of our nation. Everything in my bones, in my upbringing and in what I have done with my life thus far makes it imperative that I accept a decision made by the highest court of the land, however much I dislike or disagree with it. I am saddened by the verdict and I know that many of our supporters are saddened too. However, for the sake and love of our country, we must embark on a path that builds, rather than destroys, to deal with our disappointment. I appeal to all members and supporters of our party, the NPP in particular to accept the verdict of the court. Even in our disappointment we can take pride in the way we have conducted ourselves. Even in our disappointment we can take pride that the NPP has again led the way in deepening Ghana’s democracy.…..”
In March 2014, Akufo-Addo again announced his decision to seek his party’s nomination for the third time ahead of the 2016 election. He secured an unprecedented, landslide victory of 94.35% of the votes in the party’s presidential primary in October, 2014, in a contest of seven competitors. Akufo-Addo also took time off to serve as Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Mission for the South African elections in 2014, building on his reputation as a Former Foreign Minister.
Induction into the Hall of Fame (A Dream Come True)
After two unsuccessful attempts at the presidency, H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo took his oath of office as the 5th president of the republic of Ghana under the 4th republic on 7 January 2017 after winning the 2016 general elections with a very wide margin in excess of 1 million votes. It was indeed the first time an incumbent president was defeated by an opposition candidate in the history of Ghana. His inauguration was held at Black Star Square in Accra.
Twelve presidents from African and European countries attended the ceremony. They included Edgar Lungu of Zambia, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. Indeed, it was a day of fond memories and mixed feelings. Here we were with a man that had passed to be called the most vilified leader under the 4th republic. A man that his opponents have suggested could never be president of Ghana. But as in the biblical parable, what God has put together, no man can curse; H. E. Akufo-Addo defied daunting odds to achieve his dream. It was a dream come through at last.
The Chinese couldn’t have said it better when they opined that, “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s name will forever be inducted into the African hall of fame for the successful implementation of the FREE SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL (SHS) policy despite the challenges. Indeed, when a determined hunter goes for elephant hunting, he doesn’t do stop overs to pelt stones at rabbits.
The implementation of the FREE SHS makes President Akufo-Addo a generational thinker. He thinks not of himself but the future of generations yet to come. Posterity will be the judge on how a man could be so selfless in his service to a people and to a nation.
Also, H. E. Nana Addo need to be commended for the establishment of the Zongo Development Fund to bridge the development gap in our inner cities. The digitization of our economy to increase productivity through ease of doing business, establishing three Development Authorities (Northern, Middle Belt and Coastal), establishing an Office of the Special Prosecutor to deal specifically with Corruption, the construction of Factories & Warehouses in each district towards industrialization and modernization of agriculture, dealing with the destructive galamsey menace, the creation of six new regions to ensure the equitable distribution of our nation wealth.
Again, Henry VII was right when said that "Talking isn't doing. It is a kind of good deed to say well; and yet words are not deeds." H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo moved beyond the usual rhetoric to deal decisively with the Dagbon chieftaincy dispute. In my opinion, President Nana Akufo-Addo “ABUDANI I” deserves a global peace award for showing exemplary leadership in permanently resolving the age-long Dagbon chieftaincy debacle. According to the people of Dagbon, the President's contribution to the successful implementation of the final roadmap to peace restoration in the Dagbon Traditional Area is unprecedented. This act and the successful implementation of the FREE SHS alone, for me, will make President Akufo-Addo the best President in the history of Ghana.
When a nation was craving for an industrious leader to rescue its people, H. E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo heeded to that call. It is exactly on this special day that you were born, 75 years ago. It has been 75 years of dedicated service to humanity and your country. 75 years of blessings to the world. It is my prayer that the good Lord will continue to bless you with more prosperous years to continue the good works; for Kola nuts they say last longer in the mouth of those who value it. Happy 75th birthday to you Sir!!!
The battle still remains the Lord’s…...!!!
Columnist: Prince Sadat