The President, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor, has asked Ghanaians to safeguard the numerous successes that the country has achieved over the years by contributing their quota towards a peaceful and incident-free general election.
He cited the unprecedented road infrastructure in the country, improvement in health, the opportunities opened up in the educational sector and a relatively stable and resilient economy as some of the major achievements which should not be compromised.
President Kufuor, clad in a green agbada, made the call when he addressed a large gathering of Muslims, including his Vice, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, to celebrate this year's Eid-ul-Fitr at the Independence Square in Accra yesterday.
The occasion, which also attracted some members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ministers of State and Members of Parliament, was the last to be attended by the President in his present capacity.
He and his Vice were both presented with gifts by the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu, in recognition of their selfless stewardship of the nation so far.
President Kufuor said sections of the public were using some of the challenges that characterised the recent limited registration exercise conducted by the Electoral Commission (EC) to predict a violent electoral process in December.
“I have asked the EC to use the experiences that characterised the registration process as a guide to ensure a successful process before December and beyond,” he said.
To that end, he entreated all Ghanaians to play their part to ensure that the elections were conducted in a free and fair manner for the nation to be at peace as always.
“On the part of my government, we will do nothing to undermine the electoral process,” President Kufuor assured the gathering, to spontaneous cheers.
He said Ghanaians owe it a duty to ensure that the country was at peace at all times and reiterated his call for all to be alert to their responsibilities.
President Kufuor asked the people to exercise their franchise without fear of any intimidation from any quarters, since the government was at hand to ensure that nothing untoward happened to mar the electoral process.
The President used the occasion to challenge Muslims to send their children, particularly the girls, to school, saying the greatest future and legacy parents could give to their children was education and noted that that needed to be taken seriously to mould them into society.
The President said the country now had a lot of women in high positions and mentioned the present Chief Justice, among others, as a role model.
He commended the National Chief Imam for setting up a committee to manage this year's Hajj and wished would-be pilgrims well as they embarked on that religious journey.
President Kufuor expressed his gratitude to the Muslim community for their contributions towards his administration and noted that through that support his government had achieved a lot for the nation.
“I would like to entreat you all to give my successor, whoever it may be, the same support so that we can all achieve what we desire for ourselves,” he said.
Sheikh Sharubutu, in his welcoming address, had praised President Kufuor's administration for the number of successes that the country had witnessed over the past years.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Chief Imam also added his voice to calls for peace during the elections to sustain the stability that the country had enjoyed over the years.
He said Ghana, through President Kufuor, had managed to broker peace in countries on the continent that were at war and wondered why Ghanaians could not ensure that the peace that was being enjoyed was upheld.
Sheikh Sharubutu expressed the hope that the entire country would rally behind the leadership of the nation to ensure that this year's general election was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere that would make the country the target of envy on the continent.
Sheikh Sharubutu reminded Muslims that the country was a secular nation which practised secular education, adding that it was against that background that they needed to educate their children for them to be able to take up respectable positions in society as they contributed positively to national development.
Early on, prayers had been said for the nation and the soul of the departed Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, who passed away in South Africa last week.
Story by Nehemia Owusu Achiaw & Charles Benoni Okine