Mills Is President
1/8/2009 12:21:13 PM -
President John Evans Atta Mills PROFESSOR JOHN Evans Atta Mills has finally taken over the reins of government as the third President of the Fourth Republic, following the oaths of Office and Allegiance he took yesterday.
He was sworn in by the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood before a mammoth crowd at a ceremony at the Independence Square in Accra.
By that ceremony, the former law lecturer took over from ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, whose second four-year-term ended at midnight on Tuesday.
After what looked like a very long wait and an anxious moment for the invited guests and members of the public, who were mostly sympathizers of the National Democratic Party (NDC), proceedings for the day finally took-off and history was made once more, as for the second time the country successfully handed over power from a democratically-elected government to another without any incident. The first time was on January 7, 2001.
At exactly 2:25 pm at the Independence Square which was filled by thousands of Ghanaians and foreigners from all walks of life, Justice Georgina Wood commenced the long-awaited swearing-in ceremony.
The first to mount the stage in his white flowing 'agbada' was the Vice President-elect, John Dramani Mahama, for the administration of the Oath of Allegiance and Office. He swore by the Bible, signed the oath book and afterwards sat in the official wooden stool as the crowd cheered, 'Obama', 'Ghana's Obama'.
Next was Professor Atta Mills who, spotting a traditional Kente cloth over a white 'jumper', took the Presidential and Oath of Allegiance administered by Chief Justice Wood.
Repeating after the Chief Justice, he said, 'I, John Evans Atta Mills, having been elected to the office of the President of Ghana, do in the name of the Almighty God swear that I will be faithful and true to the Republic of Ghana; that I will at all times preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana; and I dedicate myself to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of Ghana; and to do right to all manner of persons.
'I further solemnly swear that should I at any time break this Oath of Office, I shall submit myself to the laws of the Republic of Ghana and suffer the penalty for it. So help me God.' He too swore on the Bible.
But in spite of the pageantry that greeted the event, one visible hiccup just before and after the swearing-in ceremony had to do with the eye-sight of the just-to-be-sworn-in Commander-in-Chief.
Observers were kept on tenterhooks when for close to four minutes there were glaring hitches on the dais.
Not only did the in-coming President nearly trip as he took his first few steps towards becoming an official President, but he had problems reading the oath from his sheet.
The obvious challenges sent tongues wagging as the new President fumbled with words and calling 'pardon' to the Chief Justice Georgina Wood who asked him to read after her.
The new President made matters worse as he delivered his inaugural speech extempore while the prepared speech was right in front of him.
However, Mahama Ayariga, Spokesperson for Prof Mills said there was no cause for alarm, stressing that the new President might have missed some words during the swearing-in because the sentences were too long for him to say after the Chief Justice.
The next noticeable problem he had was when he was to sign the oaths he took, but things eventually fell in line soon afterwards.
Ghana's new President then proceeded to exchange pleasantries with former President Rawlings and his wife Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings and his immediate predecessor, President John Agyekum Kufuor, his wife Theresa and his vice, Alhaji Aliu Mahama and Hajia Ramatu Mahama, as well as other dignitaries on the presidential dais.
As President Atta Mills shook hands with the dignitaries, which included the Clergy, traditional rulers, Members of Parliament and former Members of the Council of State, a 21 gun-salute boomed in the background.
Later in his acceptance speech, President Mills urged Ghanaians to unite for the socio-economic development of the country, and also called for unity among the citizenry.
'The election is over, there is no NPP Ghana, NDC Ghana; we are one people with a common destiny.'
He noted that the success or failure of the NDC government would be measured by his administration's performance, and promised to work hard to meet the aspirations of the Ghanaian people.
According to him, his government would not engage in any political witch-hunting, but he was quick to add that his government would take seriously the rule of law and principle of accountability.
He congratulated his competitors, especially the NPP presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo for giving him a "run for his money".
He pledged the new administration's continued cordial relationship with the judiciary, security services, the international community, the African Union and the UN to 'ensure that the world is safer'.
On the business front, he gave the assurance that a favourable business atmosphere would be created to resuscitate dying local businesses, and to make it at par with foreign businesses to achieve economic development.
'This is the dawn of a new Ghana for change for a better Ghana; it will be a change in a new direction to move Ghana forward.' Borrowing the slogan of the NPP and joining it to the NDC's, he said, 'Yeresesamu na yakoyenim'.
The ceremony marked the second time in Ghana's 52-year political history that an elected leader is handing over power to another elected leader.
Prof Mills, who was a former vice president, sets a personal record of being the first Ghanaian democratic leader to lose power, stay in opposition for eight years and then win power back from an incumbent.
Born on July 21, 1944 in Cape Coast, Prof. Mills rose to become Vice President of Ghana in 1997 and having eyes for the presidency, had since 2000 fought for it, but without success.
All along in his presidential campaigns, the man who took part in a run-off in December 2000 and that of December 2008 has promised to bring his experience as a law lecturer at the University of Ghana to bear on the economy.
After over 20 years in the lecture theater, he was appointed acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service of Ghana in 1988.
Former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan joined leaders of Ghana's close neighbours and other African leaders, which included Umar Yar'Adua of Nigeria, Yaya Boni of Benin, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Blaise Campaore of Burkina Faso, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and Laurent Gbagbo of Cote' d'Ivoire among others to witness the investiture.
By Sheilla Sackey & Emelia Ennin Abbey