7 January 2009

Ghana: Atta Mills - No Blame Game, Witch-Hunting

Lagos — Newly sworn-in President of Ghana, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, yesterday shortly after taking the oath of office promised that there would be no room for game blame and witch-hunting by his administration, as the people of Ghana are one, irrespective of political differences.

Atta Mills who was handed the staff of office at exactly 2.34pm Ghanaian time said in his acceptance speech that amongst other things, his administration would accord the rule of law a top priority.

The Presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, who lost the election, made a surprise but impressive showing at the inauguration ceremony, which held at the Independence Square, Accra. His presence elicited excitement from the crowd who admired his spirit of sportsmanship.

Also, earlier yesterday, the Ghanaian parliament elected its first female Speaker ever, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Mrs. Hon. Joyce Bamford-Addo. The speaker who had put in 13 years as a judge and 43 years into the legal profession, however, inaugurated the fifth parliament of the fourth republic. In all, a total of 228 members of parliament were inaugurated yesterday by the speaker.

Addressing an excited crowd, Atta Mills said he emerged from one of the most keenly contested elections in the history of Ghana, saying "our democracy has been tested to the utmost limit. Thanks to the steadfastness of the good people of Ghana, sovereign will has prevailed. We give thanks and praise to the almighty".

The President who emphasised that there would be no game blame or witch-hunting said he would address the people of Ghana after the completion of the transition process on the state of the economy and what he inherited from his predecessor. He said: "I know we have to face hard truths and take bold, strong measures. I believe that as a nation, we will find the strength of character, love of country and hope for our shared future as a nation, to accomplish even the most difficult of tasks.

"Honesty, fairness, compassion and sincerity will be the hallmark of my administration. I have no wish to carry out political vendetta of any kind. The principles of accountability will be upheld. And the law will be allowed to take its course. We have a duty to ensure that our laws are administered without fear or favour and to this end; we must avoid the syndrome of one set of laws for one group and another, for the others.

"We have a challenge to ensure that our laws work in a system that is blind to one's place in society or one's political persuasion. We will do all in our power to ensure social justice, equity and equality under the laws of Ghana. There is only one Ghana, and that Ghana must work in the interests of every Ghanaian".

While setting a four-point agenda for his regime namely investing in people, job creation, infrastructure development and expansion as well as open, transparent and accountable government, Atta Mills noted that the issue of security would be upper most in the life of his administration. "We will not let the fear of crime rob law abiding citizens of their freedom. Improving the internal security situation will therefore be a top priority of the new government so that Ghanaians can begin to feel safer in their homes and communities.

"Our politics will not focus on power and privilege; on the contrary, we will not forget the concerns of the Ghanaian people who want to see an improvement in their living conditions. Willingness to put personal advantage aside will therefore be one of the key demands on those who will serve in the Atta Mills government", he said.

Atta Mills, however, reiterated: "I have always said that I will be President for all Ghanaians, whether they voted for me or not, and without consideration for which part of the country they come from. It will be my duty as President to heal wounds and unite our dear nation. I intend to pursue relentlessly, all avenues for entrenching peace and unity in all parts of the country as I am enjoined by the constitution to do.

"This is the dawn of a new era of change for better Ghana. It is not change for change sake, it is change in a new direction to enable us move forward with unity of purpose. Ours will be a consensus driven agenda and in building that consensus, we will recognise the constitution of our compatriots in other political parties," he said.

President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and leaders of Benin Republic, Togo and Sierra Leone among others attended the inauguration.

Commenting on the event, Nigeria's Foreign Minister, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, said the success of Ghana's recent electoral experience was partly as a result of the maturity of the ruling party's ability to oversee its own defeat.

"The litmus test for a democratic process is if a ruling party can theoretically preside over its own defeat. It deepens the culture of democracy", he said.

Also, the Managing Director of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Tony Elumelu, who was on the entourage of President Yar'Adua described the inauguration as successful. He said the evidently strong Nigerian presence spoke volume about the good bilateral ties between Ghana and Nigeria.

Those on the entourage of the President included Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, Chief Olabode George, former Deputy National Chairman, South, National Security Adviser, General Sarki Muhktar and Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity.

Others present from Nigeria were governors of Rivers and Lagos, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and Babatunde Fashola (SAN), former Ogun and Lagos State governors, Chief Segun Osoba and Bola Tinubu, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, former Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) Chairman, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, National Publicity Secretary of Action Congress (AC), Kayode Fayemi, AC governorship candidate in Ekiti State, Mr. Tunji Bello and Wale Edun, both former commissioners in Lagos State, Senator Ben Obi, former vice-presidential candidate of the AC during the 2007 elections, Chief Rochas Okorocha and Chief Dele Ajomale, AC Chairman in Lagos State amongst others.

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