Accra, Ghana-Saturday, January 7, 2017: The Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told Ghanaians that "Like Ancient Ghana stood more than thousands years ago modern Ghana is a shining star in Africa today", She said, "Let the light shine even brighter", she told thousands of Ghanaians at the inauguration of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. She spoke on behalf of ECOWAS and the Republic of Liberia.
According to a dispatch from Accra, President Sirleaf pointed out that the inauguration marked a very historic day for ECOWAS and Africa as a whole, as the world witnessed another democratic transition in the Ghana. President Sirleaf said that the world witnessed the completion of a democratic process of peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another.
“You Ghanaians make us proud. After hard fought campaigns, you have put differences aside and come together as one people to celebrate this victory. We must remember that this event is the fruit of many years of hard labor. Democracy is the fruit of the sacrifices of many generations and must not be taken for granted. Thank you, people of Ghana for your political maturity and sense of patriotism in reaching thus far” she told the inaugural gathering.
She commended the professionalism and commitment of the Independent Electoral Commission of Ghana and all the political parties for applying the needed restraint that paved the way for the peaceful conduct of the Elections. President Sirleaf said the peaceful transition of power in accordance with the will of the people is sacrosanct of a pillar of democracy, noting that where the people are free to speak, free to move and free to choose their destiny, there will always be peace. She noted further that when there is peace, every child gets a chance to grow to his or her potential in an environment of tranquility.
President Sirleaf, on behalf of the ECOWAS Heads of State and in her own name extended the greatest salutation to former John Dramani Mahama for his leadership in organizing a free, fair and transparent electoral process. “Giving the people the freedom and the space to choose their own fate is the greatest act of leadership. We are proud of Ghana today, but this is not unexpected. Ghana has been the bastion of democracy for many decades after years of turbulence. John, as you leave State House, please remember and cherish the fact that you have many roles to play in the future. Ghana, Africa, and the world needs your creativity and talents”
The Liberian leader personally thanked the former President for the cordial relationship that developed between Liberia and Ghana in finding solutions to the burning problems of the nations and the ECOWAS sub-region. She also thanked him for demonstrating to all that indeed, there is life after the pinnacle of power and noted that she will join him as a former President too after Liberia’s election this year.
President Sirleaf noted that when ECOWAS was founded about 40 years ago, every one of the 16 countries, with very few exceptions, was under military rule or one party system. She expressed joy that the ECOWAS region has taken the lead in democratic transition. She indicated that the majority of the leaders in West Africa today have reached power through the democratic process and pointed out that there must be no roll back. “We must make sure that this social dispensation is never lost for we cannot afford to go back to the days of military coups and social unrest”, she said
She also reflected on the situation in Gambia, noting that ECOWAS remains engaged there. She repeated the call for President Jammeh to respect the democratic will of the people of the Gambia. She said the region still confident about transitioning to a stable and mature democratic culture, as demonstrated by the peaceful elections and smooth transitions of power in Cabo Verde, Cote D’Ivoire, Nigeria, Benin, Niger and now again Ghana.
President Sirleaf acknowledged the progress in Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram, stating that ECOWAS is encouraged by the recent victory of the Nigerian Government in the effort to remove the Boko Haram’s scourge.
She applauded President Nana Akufo-Addo for his longtime work and commitment to peace and democracy. “We have no doubt that you will strengthen those ideals and will continue the political actions that have made Ghana a great nation and an example for all of us. We warmly welcome you into the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and look forward to the experience and contribution that you will bring to our debates in our efforts to integrate our countries further, economically, socially and politically. Actors may change from time to time, but the spirit of unity, peace and solidarity of ECOWAS remains always alive”.
President Sirleaf concluded that she will be looking forward to hosting the new Ghanaian leader and his delegation in Monrovia during the fifty-first Ordinary Summit of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, to be convened in May of 2017.
In his Inaugural address, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo - who described President Sirleaf as an historic figure extended gratitude to ECOWAS for its role in the country’s growing democracy. He also thanked former President John Mahama for his services to the Ghanaian nation and people and recalled that he stepped in the bridge of national leadership when President Attah Mills died.
President Akufo-Addo promised to draw from the experience of President Mahama and other past Presidents of Ghana who are still alive in performing his duties as President. She vowed not to let the people of Ghana down, but asked them not to be spectators but citizens willing to work with his government for the change Ghana needs.
He concluded by vowing to protect the public purse, insisting that there will be value for money spent by his government.
The President of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Quattara who was invited as the Guest of Honor showed gratitude for the honor and reflected on the excellent relations between the two countries.
He congratulated President Akufo-Addo for his election as President of Ghana and called for the reactivation of the Joint Commission of Cooperation between the two West African nations.