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Opinions of Thursday, 5 January 2017

Columnist: Graphic.com.gh

Mahama’s kind words for Akufo-Addo; I have utmost respect for him

The outgoing President John Dramani Mahama had some kind words for the incoming President, Nana Akufo-Addo when he delivered his last State of the Nation address in Parliament House on Thursday morning.

Unlike during the electioneering campaign towards December 7, 2016, when President Mahama described Akufo-Addo [Opana] as a divisive character, this time around he said he had worked with Nana Addo in Parliament for 12 years and had “utmost respect for him.”

“Given our history, especially that we have each had our turn on each side of a presidential election, it would seem only natural for us to be considered opponents- worthy opponents is the description generally used in the world of sports,” President Mahama said.

Explaining how long he had known the President-elect he said: “I first entered this house as MP for Bole Bamboi in January 1997. It was, perhaps not coincidentally, the same year that Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo entered as MP for Akyem Abuakwa.

"Taking breaks from the business of the house to grab something to eat at the snack bar, Nana Addo always stood at the end of the counter, his signature white handkerchief tucked into his sleeve. “Johnny” he would shout in greeting as he preferred to call me. Incidentally we both served three terms in this house, departing together in January 2009.”

“This is how long I have known the president-elect and worked with him. I have the utmost respect for him,“ President Mahama said.

Adding he said: “In fact, Mr. Speaker, we are all on the same team. We worked together when I served as Ranking member on the Committee of Foreign Affairs at a time Nana Addo was the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration."

He maintained one of the issues on which they crossed swords was the murder of some Ghanaian youth in the Gambia.

"It is instructive that as I leave office and he takes my place, Gambia once again is a nation that is engaging international attention."

President Mahama concluded that he was assured by the firm statements by Nana Addo that he will continue the projects started by him as enjoined by the constitution.

“I wish him all success in this regard. As I have said many times already, regardless of whose tenure in which these visions come to fruition, its success belongs to Ghana. They belong to all of us.”

He said political opposition and differences of opinion were vital to the health and growth of a democracy and that political parties were formed when people of similar ideology come together to move their agenda forward in a way that best serves their country.

Despite losing the elections, he reiterated his belief that his government has performed creditably well and said: "I will allow history to be the judge of how I have served our nation, how well I have done my part in running my lap of the relay.

What that verdict will ultimately be, I cannot say. I can only say that I have done my best, given my all and done so with the best intentions for my country, our country."

"This is why I stand here today, Mr. Speaker, holding the baton of leadership prepared to pass it on with pride, goodwill and determination, to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and ask all Ghanaians to cheer him on as he runs his portion of this relay for Ghana”, he said.