Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, the Convention People's Party (CPP) presidential candidate in the 2008 election, has expressed disquiet about the patronage of the 52nd Independence anniversary celebration.
He said Independence anniversary celebrations should not be seen as an event for just one political party, but for the entire nation.
In an interview with the Times after the parade at the Independence Square in Accra yesterday, Dr. Nduom bemoaned the relative lack of patriotism of Ghanaians towards a national holiday such as March 6.
"Today, it is quite unfortunate that we do ,not have as many people as I would have liked to see. I am 'not happy about it," he said.
Unlike the previous independence anniversary celebrations, yesterday's did not attract a huge crowd of people. The dignitaries' stand on the right of the Presidential Dais had a lot of empty seats even though some members of the public were allowed to occupy some of them.
Although former President J.J. Rawlings was present, the immediate past President John A. Kufuor did not attend 'the programme as he was said to have travelled outside the country and no member of the leadership of the New Patriotic Party was present.
The ceremony did not also have the full complement of Members of Parliament (MPs) as was the case in the past.
One of the known faces of the Minority NPP group in Parliament was spotted by the Times.
Bede Ziedeng, General Secretary of the Democratic Freedom Party and Thomas N. Ward-Brew of the Democratic People's Party were among some of the political personalities, aside functionaries of the ruling National Democratic Congress Party who graced the occasion.
Dr. Nduom, who served in the two terms of the NPP administration before resigning to contest for the presidential election, said that although it behoved all Ghanaians to exhibit patriotism by patronizing such national programmes," our own leaders must also reach out to other people."
He, therefore, entreated the present administration to, in subsequent years, reach out "to other people to let them know that they are also welcome; that this is for all of us."
He said, ordinarily, it should have been automatic "but from our own experience, leadership must encourage and make it possible for all of us to come together and celebrate in unity."
The Chairman of the National Commission on Culture, Professor George Hagan, was however impressed about the turnout and the President's message.
It is a nice parade and the turnout by the forces has been wonderful; I think it is something that will give pride to all Ghanaians," he said.
Prof. Hagan described the President's call on Ghanaians to live by the law as a step in the right direction, saying that "we can build our nation on the basis of clear observance of the rule of law."
The independent presidential candidate in the last election, Kwesi Amoajul-Yeboah, who was attending the celebration for the first time in his life, was full of praise for the outcome of the programme.
He said•he was glad to have made it to the Independence Square to witness the event, and commended the President for continually calling on Ghanaians to live as one people.
The parade was formed by the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), their security services and school children who all put up splendid performances to the admiration of the gathering.
The military contingents welcomed President Mills, the Commander-In-Chief of GAF, with a special formation of AKWAABA which drew loud applause from the crowd.