The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS ) has urged the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to let his “stubborn spirit of optimism and hope” bring prosperity to the lives of Ghanaians.
President Sirleaf told Nana Akufo-Addo that he had assumed office at a time the world was going through some turbulence, with developing countries at the receiving end.
“Mr President, you have assumed the leadership of this great country at a very difficult time when the world is experiencing sluggish growth, low commodity prices particularly from developing countries, weak global trade and diminishing capital inflows, terrorism, drug and human trafficking, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the impact of climate change,” she said.
Nonetheless, she expressed confidence in President Akufo-Addo to brave the storm and steer Ghana to progress.
Turning to Ghana’s role in ECOWAS, she indicated that Ghana had been an active member of the group and expressed the hope that Nana Akufo-Addo would continue to work to ensure Ghana’s active participation in the group.
President Sirleaf said ECOWAS recognised Nana Akufo-Addo’s long-time commitment to peace and democracy.
“We have no doubt that you will strengthen those ideals and continue the political actions that have made Ghana a great nation and an example for all of us. We warmly welcome you to ECOWAS and look forward to the experience that you will bring on board,” she said.
President Sirleaf hailed Ghana for making the sub-region proud with another peaceful transition.
“You Ghanaians make us proud. After hard-fought campaigns, you have put differences aside and come together as one people to celebrate this victory. Thank you, people of Ghana, for your political maturity and sense of patriotism in reaching this far,” she said.
A number of Presidents, many of them from the sub-region, attended the inauguration.
President Sirleaf acknowledged the sacrifices Ghanaians had made in building an enviable democracy.
“We must remember that this event is the fruit of many years of hard labour. Democracy is the fruit of the sacrifice of many generations and must not be taken for granted,” she told Ghanaians.
President Sirleaf said ECOWAS shared in the historic moment of Ghana.
“Today marks a historic day in the ECOWAS community and Africa as a whole as we witness another democratic transition in the Republic of Ghana. Today, we witness the completion of the democratic process of peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another.
“We commend the professionalism, commitment of the independent Electoral Commission and all political parties for applying the needed restraints that paved the way for the peaceful conduct of the elections,” she said.
She stated that when the people were free to speak, free to move and free to choose their destiny, there was bound to be peace.
“Where there is peace, every child gets the chance to grow to his or her potential in an environment of tranquillity,” she added.
The ECOWAS Chairperson said Ghana had been the bastion of democracy for many decades after years of turbulence.
The Gambia must learn from Ghana
President Sirleaf said when ECOWAS was formed about 40 years ago, everyone of the member countries was under military rule or one-party system.
“Today, we can say that ECOWAS as a region is a leader in democratic transition. The majority of our leaders today attained power through the democratic process,” she said.
“We must ensure that there is no roll back,” she added.
She said ECOWAS was closely following the situation in The Gambia as the Supreme Court “begins the hearing of Yahya Jammeh’s election petition on January 10”.
“We call on The Gambia to follow the example of Ghana and put the interest of the nation above all personal interests,” she said.