President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that democracy in Ghana, under the 4th Republic, has yielded numerous dividends to the country.
That, he indicated, is manifest in the fact that it has banished the spectre of instability that had disfigured much of Ghana’s early existence.
Addressing the nation yesterday on the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the holding of the Referendum that approved the 1992 Constitution, the President noted that prior to 1992, “Ghana had sampled almost every form of governance known to man”.
“We experienced, from these events, a weakening of the sense of self-confidence and progress of the Ghanaian, which was evidenced by the fact that components of the Human Development Index or life expectancy rates, access to education and per capita income indicators, at the time, were not commensurate with our vast potential,” he said.
He recalled that with Ghanaians expressing widespread will to have the decade-long ban imposed on party political activities lifted, the then PNDC military government, led by Flt Lt J.J Rawlings, set up the National Consultative Assembly in May 1991, and tasked the body to prepare a draft a constitution for the country.
He recounted further that in the ensuing referendum, 3,408,119 Ghanaians voted “Yes”, representing 92.59% of the vote, to return our nation to democratic rule, as opposed to 272,855 voting “No”, representing 7.41%.
“The Constitution, overwhelmingly approved in the Referendum, set up a liberal, democratic state, founded on the separation of powers, with exclusive power in the Judiciary to superintend and enforce the Constitution, and protect the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.
“The coming into effect of the 1992 Constitution was promulgated with immense, popular backing, and, on January 7 1993, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, Chairman of the erstwhile PNDC, was sworn into office as the 1st President of the 4th Republic,” he added.
The President recalled with nostalgia that, since then, Ghana had experienced the longest, uninterrupted period of stable, constitutional governance in her history, banishing the spectre of instability.
He pointed out that over the last 30 years, Ghana had witnessed sustained growth in every facet of her national life, culminating into considerable improvements in the Human Development Index.
He added that with democracy had come equality of opportunity and respect for human rights and the rule of law, ideals which have stood the test of time in most part of the world, and which have now found firm anchor in Ghana’s body politic.
“We have had five Presidents in the history of the 4th Republic, with peaceful transfers of power from a governing to an opposition party on three separate occasions. Even when there was disagreement with the outcome of an election, it was the Supreme Court, on two occasions, rather than the streets, that validated its result. We are, arguably, the most stable democracy in West Africa,” he added.
The President cautioned the youth obsessed with gangster politics that “there are no short-cuts for the progress and prosperity of our country”, stressing that only “hard work, creativity, innovation, a sense of enterprise and unity in the nation can produce the accelerated economic development for all”.
Faith in democracy
To this end, the President urged Ghanaians to renew their trust in democracy, and bear in mind at all times, the oft-cited statement, that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
“I say so because there are some, who for their own parochial and selfish interests, would want to see a return to the dark days of authoritarian rule. Simply because, with no respect for the Ghanaian people, they are either unwilling to subject themselves or their vision to the open scrutiny of the Ghanaian people, or because they know they will be rejected by the Ghanaian people, hence, seek a shortcut to office and power.
“Let us strengthen our resolve to resist such persons for our own common good. Notwithstanding all the gains made in the 4th Republic, Ghanaians must acknowledge that the country has not reached the potential she should have,” the President said.
The biggest challenge facing the nation, according to him, continues to be how we can decisively eradicate poverty as face challenges in the performance of our public services.
“We face threats, traditional and contemporary, to our nation’s security and social stability, in the form of chieftaincy conflicts, land disputes, ethnic conflicts, cyber security issues, youth unemployment, economic hardships, and corruption in our public life,” he admitted, calling for collective effort in dealing with communal conflict.
He intimated, however, that “the basic commitment to resolving these challenges, within the framework of due process and democratic institutions, must remain unshaken,” adding that he is confident that, God-willing, the challenges will be overcome.