The man Akufo-Addo
Nineteen years after he took his first shot at becoming the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will, tomorrow, realise that dream as Ghana comes under the global spotlight for his inauguration, along with the incoming Vice-President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia.
It is a dream that has been budding since 1998 when the then 53-year-old Nana Akufo-Addo contested the flagbearership of the NPP and placed second to the man who would later become the second President of the Fourth Republic — Mr J.A. Kufuor — who led the country from 2001 to 2009.
Although considered too old, at 72 years, for the office by his critics and opponents, the President-elect was third-time lucky, just like the late President J.E.A. Mills, who contested in 2000, 2004 and 2008 when, coincidentally, he snatched the seat from Nana Akufo-Addo in 2008 at age 64.
For the record…
A veteran of three flag-bearer races (2008, 2012, 2016), the 72-year-old lawyer will become Ghana’s eighth democratically elected leader in its nearly 60-year history and the fifth President of the Fourth Republic.
The President-elect is also the fifth former parliamentarian to lead the country, after Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Prof. K.A. Busia, Mr Kufuor and President Mahama.
Coincidentally, Nana Akufo-Addo entered Parliament in 1997 as the member for Abuakwa in the Eastern Region, the very year President Mahama also became MP for Bole-Bamboi in the Northern Region.
In his many firsts, Nana Akufo-Addo has broken the jinx of the Johns to become the first person who does not bear the first name John to be voted President in the Fourth Republic.
Before him there had been Jerry John Rawlings (1993-2001), John Agyekum Kufuor (2001-2009), John Evans Atta Mills (2009-2012) and John Dramani Mahama (2012-2016).
Described as a militant of the intellectual brand by political connoisseurs, Nana Akufo-Addo has, over the years, chosen to stay on course by focusing on his solid party credentials and political achievements at the frontline of the Ghanaian struggle.
From the days of the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice in the 1970s, through the bloody “Kume Preko’’ demonstrations of the 1990s, he has matured into a 72-year-old master of national politics and agitator for democratic causes who never gives up on his ambition.
In 2008 he was for continuity, which later metamorphosed into change in 2012 and 2016. Former President Kufuor saw Nana Akufo-Addo’s legal acumen when he appointed him (Akufo-Addo) Minister of Justice and Attorney-General in 2001.
His tenure as Attorney-General was as phenomenal as it was controversial. It was during his tenure that the suffocating and seditious Criminal Libel Law was repealed to give impetus to free speech and decriminalise it, particularly among media practitioners.
The Kufuor administration’s fight against corruption during the Rawlings era also fell on his lap and a number of Rawlings appointees — the late Victor Selormey, Mr Kwame Peprah, Alhaji Ibrahim Adams and Dr George Sipa-Adjah Yankey — were all jailed for causing financial loss to the state due to their involvement in the quality grain scandal in which an American, Juliet Cotton, was alleged to have embezzled a loan guaranteed by Ghana for a rice farm.
The scandal left Ghana with about 20,000 acres of uncultivated fields, 500 acres of spoiled crop, an unused rice mill and a $20-million debt.
However, many did not take kindly to the processes he led towards the prosecution of Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, a former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and legal colossus, for causing financial loss to the state because the GNPC guaranteed a loan to Valley Farms for cocoa production which the company defaulted in paying, and the GNPC, which acted as the guarantor, was compelled to pay it in 1996.
Interestingly, in the year in which Nana Akufo-Addo was elected President, the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court judgement which jailed Mr Tsikata for wilfully causing financial loss to the state.
A polyglot with vast experience in foreign affairs and diplomacy, perhaps his biggest time under the international spotlight was in August 2006 when, as Foreign Minister/President of the United Nations Security Council, he forced the attention of the world to return to find a durable resolution in West Africa in a week that the focus of international power brokers and the media had been firmly on the Middle East crisis and security alerts in a major city such as London.
The lowest point of his tenure concerned reports that former President Rawlings had been stripped of the privileges accruing to a former President because of his constant criticism of the then President Kufuor and his administration.
Stepping into father’s shoes
The President-elect is following in an emerging trend in Africa, where politicians step into their fathers’ shoes.
Togo’s Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, Ian Khama of Botswana, Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon, Joseph Kabila of Congo, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and now Nana Akufo-Addo, whose father, the late Justice Edward Akufo-Addo, became a ceremonial President during the Busia regime from 1969 to1972.
But, unlike Mr Gnassingbé, Mr Bongo and Mr Kabila, who stepped into the shoes of their dictator fathers as soon as their fathers passed on, Mr Khama, Mr Kenyatta and Nana Akufo-Addo had to wait for decades, all that while cutting their political teeth.
The incoming Veep
The President-elect will be sworn-in along with Alhaji Dr Bawumia, the incoming Vice-President, who also becomes the third man from the Northern Region to occupy the Office of Vice-President in the last 16 years, after the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama (2001-2009) and Mr Mahama (2009-2012).
From being a deputy governor of the Bank of Ghana with little political experience, Alhaji Dr Bawumia has matured into a versatile politician who pinned needles on the Mahama administration ahead of the 2016 elections.
Apart from the Black Star Square, the venue for the inauguration, which is already draped in the national colours, telephone and electricity poles and trees along the streets leading to the venue are also adorned in the national colours of red, gold and green.
The Independent Arch has not been left out of the national beautification exercise.
Already, neatly arranged chairs and stands covered with tarpaulin can be seen at the venue, while members of the security services have pitched camp there.
Chief Justice makes history
The President-elect will be sworn in by Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, to be witnessed by a host of Heads of State and Government from Togo, Gabon, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, Benin, Nigeria, Guinea and Ethiopia.
Her Ladyship will make history, as she will have the singular honour of having sworn in a third President since she assumed the position of Chief Justice in 2007.
President Mills (2009) and President Mahama (2013) took the oath before her.
Who is coming?
Thirteen countries are expected to send representatives, who will be joined by about 6,000 foreign dignitaries, at the event, which see Ivorian President Alhassan Outtarra as the special guest of honour.
In 2005, seven African Presidents and a host of Heads of State and Government from Africa and across the globe attended the swearing-in of former President Kufuor.
In 2009, seven African Presidents, three Prime Ministers and two Vice-Presidents were at the swearing-in of the late President Mills.
In 2013, 11 Heads of State and 18 government delegations were at the inauguration of President Mahama.
Apart from world leaders, members of the Diplomatic Corps and other foreign dignitaries are expected to grace the event.
If previous inaugurations are anything to go by, then Nana Akufo-Addo’s swearing-in and inaugural speech will be witnessed by a huge crowd that will be building up at the Black Star Square before 5 a.m.
An estimated 30,000 Ghanaians will descend on the Black Star Square singing, dancing and waving miniature flags to herald the swearing-in of the President-elect.
After months of campaigning, President Mahama, Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP and five others took their cases to the electorate in a fiercely contested election which Nana Akufo-Addo won by 53.85 per cent, followed by President Mahama, who garnered 44.40 per cent.