Ghana marks its 56th Independence anniversary today with colourful parades across the country.
President John Dramani Mahama will address a national parade of schoolchildren and contingents of security personnel at the Independence Square in Accra to mark the occasion.
Similar parades will be held in all the regional and district capitals, during which representatives of the President will take the national salute and read the Head of Stateâ€™s speech.
Holiday makers will patronise the various entertainment centres, night-clubs and beaches in their respective areas to commemorate the occasion.
As part of the activities marking the event, 20 pupils, who excelled in the 2012 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), were Tuesday presented with the President’s Independence Awards, reports Musah Yahaya Jafaru
Besides their academic performance, the pupils, comprising a boy and a girl from each of the 10 regions, were also selected for their distinguished participation in co-curricular activities and exhibition of good moral behaviour.
President John Dramani Mahama presented medals, plagues, certificates and laptops to the awardees at the Banquet Hall of the State in Accra.
Additionally, the awardees, who are currently pursuing different courses in various senior high schools (SHSs) in the country, were offered scholarships.
The scholarships cover the boarding and lodging fees of boarding students while day students will receive their scholarships in cash.
Since the introduction of the President’s Independence Awards in 1993, more than 300 pupils have benefited from the scheme. Some of the award winners are now doctors, engineers, lawyers and bankers.
In his address, President Mahama said children were the country’s present and future since they would be at helm of affairs in the near future.
Therefore, he said, the government would continue to support the education of children and create opportunities for them to develop their talents.
For instance, the President said, the government would continue with the distribution of free laptops, exercise books and uniforms and increase the number of beneficiaries of the Ghana School Feeding Programme.
Besides, the President said, 200 community SHSs would be constructed to improve access to secondary education.
He said the Maths and Science scholarship would be increased from 5,000 to 10,000 this year.
President Mahama, therefore, urged the youth to be serious with their studies and exhibit a sense of discipline and responsibility in all their dealings.
That, he said, was crucial because they would be the doctors to perform the best of operations in the country and the engineers to lead the nation’s infrastructure development, among other contributions.
President Mahama congratulated the awardees for their enviable performance, and asked them to continue to build their capacity.
The Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, reiterated the government’s commitment to increasing the number of beneficiaries of the school feeding programme, free laptops and exercise books.
She called on all teachers, officials of the Ghana Education Service (GES), teachers and students to exhibit a high sense of commitment in their respective roles for the promotion of teaching and learning.
Mohaideen Mohammed-Ameen from the Dan-Ibu International School in the Upper West Region, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues award winners, thanked the President for the honour done them.
He affirmed his commitment and that of his colleagues to continue to demonstrate a high level of seriousness in their studies and discipline in all their activities.
The awardees were later hosted to a luncheon at the Aviation Social Centre in Accra as part of activities to celebrate their achievements, reports Kofi Yeboah
Over the past few days, the award winners had been accorded the best of treatments reserved for state celebrities as a reward for their academic excellence.
Apart from enjoying an audience with the Vice President, Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, they had interacted with many state dignitaries and chauffeured to many parts of the country to visit places of interest.
Resolve to learn from the past mistakes and chart a new course for posterity
Meanwhile Caroline Boateng reports that as the nation celebrates the event, a retired educationist and diplomat, Mr K. B. Asante,has called on all Ghanaians to resolve to learn from the past mistakes and chart a new course for posterity.
Mr K. B. Asante, who has lived through all the 56 years of the countryâ€™s independence, was upbeat about the countryâ€™s future, despite the challenges.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic, Mr Asante said there was reason to celebrate as the commemoration of the birth of any person or event was remembered and celebrated even if circumstances were not too good.
Giving a brief of the countryâ€™s journey so far, for which Ghanaians had cause to celebrate, he said the country had had a chequered history of coup dâ€™Ã©tats and changes in governments, some of which had resulted in the killing of some citizens.
However, with all the upheavals, the journey so far was good, despite the fact that the country had not reached the expected stage.
He said that was the reason why all had to take the opportunity to resolve to do things better â€œfor our children.â€
â€œI will be at home today and I hope I would be able to afford a cool beer while watching the match past of the school children,â€ Mr Asante responded jovially when asked how he was going to commemorate the day.
The 56th Independence celebration is on the theme, â€˜â€™Partnership and Innovation for Building A New and Better Ghanaâ€™â€™.
The anniversary marks the event that ended 113 years of British colonial rule and ushered the country into constitutional governance under the leadership of its first Prime Minister, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
Though Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah spearheaded the independence struggle and eventually secured independence for the then Gold Coast on March 6, 1957, other people, such as Mr George Alfred Grant, popularly known as Paa Grant, Dr J. B. Danquah, Mr Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, Mr Ebenezer Ako-Adjei, Mr Edward Akufo-Addo, Mr William Ofori-Atta, Mr Mensah Sarbah, as well as a countless known and unknown others, played various roles in the struggle.
The country has, for the past five and a half decades, had a chequered political history characterised by four Republican constitutions and long spells of military intervention in national politics.
The First Republic, which lasted for nine years between I957 and I966, witnessed the laying of what can be described as a robust economy, including the building of virile and solid infrastructure which currently serves the nation.
Other infrastructural projects included the Tema Harbour, the Akosombo Hydro-Electric Dam, the Tema township, the Tema Oil Refinery and the Tema Flour Mill. Other projects which have collapsed formed part of the Convention Peopleâ€™s Partyâ€™s (CPPâ€™s) Seven-Year Development Plan â€” I963 to I970.
Dr Nkrumahâ€™s dream of economically transforming Ghana was truncated by the first military uprising in the country on February 24, I966 which brought the National Liberation Council (NLC), chaired by Lieutenant General Joseph Ankrah, into power.
The NLC, which accused Dr Nkrumah of unbridled dissipation of the countryâ€™s wealth and dictatorship, failed to continue with his lofty vision and handed over political power to the Progress Party (PP), led by Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, after elections in I969.
The Second Republic under Dr Busia lasted for only 27 months, having been shown the exit on January I3, I972 by the National Redemption Council (NRC) under the leadership of General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong.
The NRC accused the PP government of â€œtaking away the few amenities and facilities which the military and the police even enjoyed under the Nkrumah Regimeâ€.
The NRC later metamorphosed into the Supreme Military Council (SMC), but a palace coup saw General Acheampong being replaced by Lieutenant-General F.W.K. Akuffo in I978 as the Chairman of the SMC and Head of State of Ghana.
As the SMC was preparing to hand over political power to an elected government after a Constituent Assembly had drafted the Third Republican Constitution, the country was hit by another military uprising on May !5, 1979 which was swiftly quelled by the authorities.
The architect of the uprising, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, was arrested and hauled before a court martial, but before the dust could settle on the issue, a group of officers and men from the Ghana Armed Forces, on June 4, 1979, seized the reins of power and ousted the SMC.
The Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), led by Flt Lt Rawlings, allowed the elections which were underway to go ahead, with the Peopleâ€™s National Party (PNP) winning for its leader, Dr Hilla Limann, to become the President of the Third Republic in September I979.On December 3I, I98I, Ghanaians woke up to hear the voice of Flt Lt Rawlings on radio claiming that he had overthrown the government of the PNP and launched a revolutionary government called the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) to re-arrange the social and economic order of the country.
After 11 years of military rule regulated by the issuance of decrees, the Fourth Republican Constitution was born and a general election held on December 7, I992. It was won by the National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by Flt Lt Jerry Rawlings.
He was returned to political power in I996, but in 2000 the NDCâ€™s presidential candidate, who had been the Vice-President from I996 to 2000, Prof Mills, lost the elections to Mr John Agyekum Kufuor.
Mr Kufuor managed the country for two terms and in 2008 the electorate returned the NDC, whose presidential candidate was Prof Mills, to political power in the elections.
President John Evans Atta Mills took over from former President Kufuor on January 7, 2009. He took bold measures to build a robust economy and deepened the development process of the country on the mantra Better Ghana agenda.
Unfortunately, he passed away on July 24, 2012. His Vice President, Mr John Dramani Mahama assumed the highest office of the land to complete the unexpired term of late President Mills.
President Mahama was declared winner of the December 12, 2012 general election by the Electoral Commission to begin a four year term. The result of the presidential election is now a subject of court dispute before the Supreme Court.