President Akufo-Addo@80: Reliving Ghana’s vision and dream 

By Stephen Asante 

Accra, March 29, GNA – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo adds a significant milestone to his life as he celebrates his 80th birthday today, March 29, 2024. 

Ostensibly, to see through eight solid decades in the life of any individual comes with its own euphoria, experience and complexities. 

It is a time for a sober reflection, particularly taking into account the interesting life of a man whose overall contribution to Ghana’s development and growth could not be glossed over. 

Since his adulthood, the man, who goes down in history as the oldest person to be elected President of Ghana at age 72, has been influential in many aspects of life. 

From his role in championing democratic rule and advocacy to Pan-Africanism, the man Nana Akufo-Addo would forever be remembered for paying his dues to the nation. 

“I hear that he (Akufo-Addo) does not even go and sleep. The man is almost 80 and he sleeps at midnight,” the Rt Rev Professor Joseph Obiri Mante, the 18th Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Ghana, said of the hard-working character traits of the President recently. 

Born on March 29, 1944, at Swalaba, Accra, Nana Akufo-Addo was raised in Accra, Ghana’s capital. 

His father’s residence in Accra was effectively the headquarters of the country’s first political party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), after its formation in 1947. 

Three of the Big Six (the founding fathers of Ghana) were Akufo-Addo’s blood relatives – Dr J.B. Danquah (grand uncle), William Ofori Atta (uncle) and his father, Edward Akufo-Addo, who became the third Chief Justice and later ceremonial President of the Republic from 1970-72. 

This early exposure to political activism might have influenced one of Ghana’s celebrated lawyers of all time, igniting the passion in him to lead the country one day. 

From his primary education at the Government Boys’ School and Rowe Road School, both in Accra Central, he went to England to study for his O-Level and A-Level examinations.  

He returned to Ghana in 1962 to teach at the Accra Academy before going to the University of Ghana in 1964 to study Economics. After graduating, he went on to study law in the United Kingdom and was called to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in 1971 and the Ghana Bar in 1975. 

In 1995, he led the “Kume Preko” demonstrations of the Alliance for Change (AFC) movement, a broad-based political pressure group that sought reforms in the country’s political system. 

Nana Akufo-Addo’s political career would see him, in October 1998, compete for the presidential candidacy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and losing to John Kufuor, who won the December 2000 presidential election. 

He was first elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1996, and was made a Cabinet Minister from 2001 to 2007 – first as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, and then later as Foreign Minister. 

While serving as Attorney-General, he worked to repeal the Criminal Libel Law and now as President of Ghana has successfully signed the Right to Information Bill, which was before the Ghanaian Parliament for two decades – a move that touts him as a champion of the freedom of speech and independence of the media.  

As Foreign Minister, he was fully involved in the successful ECOWAS peace efforts in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast and Guinea Bissau. 

In pursuit of his political ambitions, he resigned from the Kufuor government in July 2007, to contest for his party’s presidential nomination in the 2008 elections. 

From his failed attempts to secure the mandate of Ghanaians in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Nana Akufo-Addo finally realised his dreams when he was given the nod in the 2016 General Election, and subsequently sworn into office in 2017. 

Over the course of his life as President, Nana Akufo-Addo has seen his Administration implementing many life-changing policies across all sectors of the economy. 

“We do not want to be moving forward in Ghana leaving anybody behind; we all want to move together along a broad front,” he notes. 

According to the President, he “is determined to make sure that the teachings of the Constitution, which require an even spread of the distribution of the nation’s resources and development, are maintained in my time so that even within these constrained public finances, there is an even spread of development across the country.” 

Coming on the back of this agenda, the Government in 2017, introduced the flagship ‘Free Senior High School (SHS)’ policy, one of the most significant programmes of the ruling NPP, which has so far benefitted more than two million Ghanaian youth. 

Nana Akufo-Addo says there cannot be any meaningful development without education, because education eradicates poverty and empowers nations. 

This has informed his Administration’s resolve to sink as much resources as possible to deepen human resource and manpower development. 

On agriculture, the President’s ‘Planting for Food and Jobs and Export’ initiatives, among others, are also yielding positive results – boosting the country’s food stock to enhance food security. 

Nana Akufo-Addo will also be remembered for the massive road infrastructural development under his watch, including the four-tier Pokuase Interchange, which is the biggest road facility to be constructed in the West African sub-Region. 

Under his tenure, the country is also embarking on its biggest decentralised health facility constructions with the introduction of the ‘Agenda 111’, with areas such as sanitation and water also receiving a fair share of development. 

On the international scene, the President has won the admiration of the international community for his dedication to promoting the rule of law, human rights and democratic governance. 

In October 2022, he was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Sorbonne, in Paris, France, one of the most prestigious universities in Europe and the world. 

This was in recognition of his commitment to entrenching the values of democracy in Ghana, fostering peace within the West African Region, guaranteeing access to a minimum of senior high school education for all of Ghana’s children through the implementation of the Free SHS policy, and also for the leadership shown in the fight against COVID-19. 

It was the fourth Honorary Doctorate Degree to be conferred on the President – the first being an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree conferred on him in May 2016, from the celebrated Fort Hare University of South Africa; the second, in December 2017, being an honourary doctor of humane letters degree from the University of Liberia; and the third, in May 2021, from the University of Cape Coast. 

As the nation marks the 80th birthday of the President, a lot will be remembered of him as he exhausts the last year of his eight-year tenure. 

A cross-section of the public, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), congratulated the President for achieving the significant milestone. 

They prayed for his good health and God’s guidance as he came to the twilight of his political career. 

Nana Akufo-Addo is married to Rebecca, daughter of Justice J.H. Griffiths-Randolph, Speaker of the Parliament of the Third Republic of Ghana. 

 They have five children and five grandchildren.