President John Agyekum Kufuor yesterday rallied Ghanaians to be inspired by the brilliant performance of the senior national football team, the Black Stars at the ongoing World Cup tournament to have confidence in themselves and in the nation.
"The message ringing around the world now is that Ghana can do it, if she wills", he said, at the maiden edition of the National Honours Award Day held at the Accra International Conference Centre.
In all, 160 men and women, who had over the years distinguished themselves in a broad spectrum of disciplines of national life, including academia, public service, health, medicine, statesmanship, science, industry, religion, military, arts, sports and culture were honoured. The awards were in three categories, the Order of the Star of Ghana, the Order of the Volta and Grand Medal.
Thirty-one of them received the Order of the Star of Ghana, 85 were presented with the Order of the Volta (companion) while four had the Order of The Volta (Officer) award with 40 receiving the Grand Medal award.
President Kufuor said the splendid performance by the Stars provided conclusive evidence of the country's recovery from the wretched stagnation that characterised long stretches of the past four decades. "Within a very short space of two weeks, the team has succeeded in capturing global attention for the promise that is the destiny of Ghana in the world."
President Kufuor said considering the euphoria all over the country within the past three weeks, all Ghanaians should agree that the nation was at one in believing that Ghana could do it and was determined to do it.
President Kufuor said: "We must all, therefore, accept that Ghana has reached the critical point for take-off into accelerated and sustained development for a bright future."
President Kufuor said the fact was that this turning point had been achieved through exemplary performance of the citizens in their diverse chosen fields of occupation. He said leaders at various levels of governance throughout the society had also individually and collectively served with commitment and purposefulness and that "more and more our nation is moving towards realisation of a bright vision with bold and determined steps. "Some of the foot soldiers of this unfolding success story are the ladies and gentlemen, who have been invited here today to receive awards.
Mr Ebenezer Begyina Sekyi Hughes, Speaker of Parliament; Chief Justice George Kingsley Acquah; Mr Joseph Henry Mensah, a Statesman; Lieutenant General Seth Kofi Obeng, Former Chief of Defence Staff; Mr B.A. Mensah, an Industrialist; Professor Florence Abena Dolphyne, an Educationist; His Eminence Cardinal Appiah-Turkson; Nana Owusu Nsiah, a Former Inspector General of Police (IGP); Alhaji Nuhu Sharabutu, National Chief Imam; Mr Abedi Ayew Pele, Former Captain of the Black Stars and Dr Charles Mensa, an Industrialist, were among those honoured.
President Kufuor said the nation was grateful to them because their achievements had advanced the society and the people. "In your various endeavours, you set yourselves goals and worked hard to achieve them. You challenged yourselves to tackle seemingly impossible tasks. You have excelled and the nation is acknowledging you. Congratulations." The President said he believed that they would use the honours as a shot in the arm to do more for the country and humanity.
President Kufuor asked for a minutes silence in memory of the late Professor Albert Adu Boahen, a fearless freedom fighter, who refused to be intimidated by arbitrariness in the conduct of public affairs and had been selected for the Order of the Star of Ghana awards.
He described the late Professor as someone, who gave voice to shatter the stifling grip of what came to be called the "culture of silence" that pervaded the Ghanaian society until the launch of the Fourth Republic.
President Kufuor said of Professor Adu Boahen, "He was indeed a patriot, who has not lived to see today".
Vice President Aliu Mahama, Members of the Council of State, Ministers of State, Parliamentarians and the Diplomatic Corps attended the ceremony.