The nation’s celebration of the 25th anniversary of its Fourth Republican status was marked yesterday with a national thanksgiving service at the Independence Square in Accra.
The Fourth Republican Constitution was espoused through a referendum in 1992 after 35 years of a checkered political history after the country attained independence.
There have been seven successful elections Under the Fourth Republic, with seven parliaments, six speakers of parliament, and five chief justices.
One distinguishing feature during the period has been the smooth transfer of political power on three different occasions between four presidents from two political parties.
The historic event, held under an atmosphere of unity, brought together the former Presidents of the Fourth Republic; Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, and John Dramani Mahama, as well as Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, the Speaker of Parliament Prof. Mike Ocquaye and Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo.
It also drew members of the Legislature, Judiciary, the Clergy (Christian and Muslim), security services, political parties, identifiable groups, as well as government officials, traditional rulers, and people from all walks of life.
The Anniversary was commemorated on the theme: "25 Years of the Fourth Republic - Celebrating the Goodness of The Lord".
In a sermon, the Anglican Bishop of Kumasi, Most Rev. Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, stressed that if Ghanaians were to count and number their blessings, it would not be difficult to apprehend that God had a special liking for Ghana and that God was a Ghanaian.
He said considering God’s unconditional love, goodness and faithfulness to the country over the years, it was prudent that the nation offered thanksgiving to God.
He recounted that one of the greatest acts of ingratitude to God was to credit achievements in life to the limited abilities of persons, warning that it was wrong because God shared his glory with no man.
He said the country’s journey to success was inseparably linked to the God factor and that God would continue to bless the nation so long as he was given praise and gratitude.
The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, said God created Ghana with such diversity that even with our differences we were not at each other’s throat but were living in the inherent beauty of that diversity in fulfilment of the desires of Allah.
He reminded Ghanaians that if we desire much more from God then there was the need to remain everlastingly grateful and attached to him.
For that reason, he said, it was important to take stock of the great things that God had done for the nation and show appreciation accordingly.
The living three former presidents took turns to read scriptures from the Bible during the Christian prayer session with former President Rawlings reading from the book of Leviticus 25:8-17. Ex-Presidents John Kufuor and John Mahama read from Psalm 100:1-5 and Luke 12:16-21 respectively.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Akufo-Addo paid glowing tribute to the former presidents for their contribution to the development of the country and for expanding the frontiers of democracy in the country.
"We commend the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), the 1991 Consultative Assembly, the Movement for Freedom and Justice (MFJ), the pro-democracy organisations and civil society, and religious bodies whose collective efforts and agitations led to the birth of the 4th Republic".
"But today’s celebration, above all, is to the great credit of the Ghanaian people, the ordinary men and women who make up the fabric of the Ghanaian nation. Twenty-five years ago, the Ghanaian people resolved to build, under God, a united nation, grounded in democratic values and the rule of law," he said.
President Akufo-Addo said the country had travelled a long way towards realising its current enviable status, adding that "I am confident that, with a spirit of reconciliation, fairness, integrity and hard work, the best days of Mother Ghana lie ahead of us. Together, we are laying the platform for the evolution of a new Ghanaian civilisation, which will give true meaning to the foundational values of freedom and justice on which our nation was conceived," he said.
He also paid homage to the various parliaments and institutions that had played various roles to consolidate the country's democracy, adding that the country had witnessed sustained development in the past 25 years in the areas of health, education, good governance, social justice, rule of law and economic growth.
The President acknowledged the challenges the country faced despite the gains made and indicated that the biggest challenge was the inability to eradicate widespread poverty in the country.
Meanwhile, the Ashanti regional secretary of the Convention Peoples Party, CPP, Abdul Salam Issah says the comment made by the Communications Director of the Party(CPP), Kadir Abdul Rauf Issifu is not an official statement from the party.
He said this when he was speaking with Malik Bin Ibrahim, aka Prof, the host of Silver FM’s ‘Omanbapa Morning Show’.
According to him the leadership of the party were pre-informed about the anniversary and honoured it and so he does not see the reason why the Communications Director would make that comment.
It would be recalled that, the Communications Director of the party Kadir Abdul Rauf Issifu , described the whole gathering as unnecessary and a waste of the country’s resources.
“The timing is wrong… They don’t really intend to involve political actors. If they really wanted to, they would have given us at least 3 months ahead so that we start planning and thinking together,” he told Citi News.
“We have problems as a people in this country and since the NPP was elected into power, there are burning issues. Even their own flamboyant promises, they have not even met them halfway and Ghanaians are actually watching.”
According to him, the thanksgiving service “is a misdirected effort and also an attempt to siphon resources from the state.