Saturday, 20 April

'It's unfortunate regression in democracy' – Akufo-Addo takes swipe at West Africa's 'all-powerful, cannot-be-questioned Messiahs'

President Nana Akufo-Addo

There is "a state of palpable anxiety and tension in every corner of West Africa, raising the spectre of regional instability, which we thought had been banished", President Nana Akufo-Addo has said in his last State of the Nation Address to parliament on Tuesday, 27 February 2024.

He said "unconstitutional changes in government in parts of Africa, especially in West Africa, through a series of coups d’état and military interventions in governance, testify to an unfortunate democratic regression in the region", he bemoaned.

The Ghanaian leader said it is in the interest of democratic growth that this development is "reversed as soon as possible, and we, in Ghana, continue to give maximum support to ECOWAS, the regional body of West Africa, and the African Union, Africa’s continental organisation, in their efforts to restore democratic institutions in the affected nations".

"We must help stem the tide of this unwelcome evolution, and help entrench democracy in West Africa. We believe also that a reform of the global governance architecture, such as the Security Council of the United Nations, to make it more representative and accountable, will help strengthen global peace and stability, and, thereby, help consolidate democratic rule in the world", he added.

The president recalled that Ghanaians have had "our fair share of political instability and experimentation about how we should govern ourselves".

He warned: "There might be new names being ascribed to some of the supposed new ideas being canvassed by some today, but I daresay, on close examination, we would discover they are not new, we have tried them here, and they have failed."

"We know about all-powerful, cannot-be-questioned Messiahs, we know about liberators, and we know about redeemers and deities in military uniform. It might sound new to some, but those of us who have been around for a while have heard the argument made passionately that democracy was not a suitable form of Government if we wanted rapid development." "It is a tired argument that was regularly used by coup d’etat apologists. It is also not new to have political parties and politics, in general, being denigrated, indeed, there used to be national campaigns of fear waged against politics and political parties", he reminded the legislators.

"It took time and it took long battles, but, in the end, a consensus did emerge, and we opted for a multi-party democratic form of government under the Constitution, which ushered in the Fourth Republic", the president pointed out.

He said although the Constitution "is not a perfect document, Constitutions do not ever pretend to be; but it has served us well these past thirty-two (32) years, considering where we have come from".

"It is a sacred document that should not be tampered with lightly, but, I hasten to add, our Constitution did not descend from heaven, we, Ghanaians, drew it up to serve our needs, and we can amend it to suit our changing needs and circumstances".

"We should work towards finding a consensus on the changes that the majority of Ghanaians want made to the Constitution. Mr Speaker, democracies are founded on elections, and the holding of free and credible elections ensure that people have confidence in the government that emerges at the end of the process".