His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana; Your Excellency Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana; H. E. Idriss Déby, Chairman of the African Union (AU), Mr Speaker and Hon Members of Parliament, Excellencies Heads of State and Governments here seated, Your Excellency the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Your Honour the Chief Justice and Associate Justices, members of the Diplomatic Corps, officials of Government, Your Excellency former President John Dramani Mahama, Your Excellency the former Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, traditional chiefs and elders, members of the prelates, members of the folk States, distinguished ECOWAS citizens of the great Republic of Ghana, Hon Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you warmest greetings from the people of the Republic of Liberia.
It is with great pleasure that I stand here today on behalf of ECOWAS to convey very warm and fraternal
congratulations to the people of Ghana for once again, making the region proud. Today marks a historic day in the ECOWAS and Africa as a whole, as we witness another democratic transition in the Republic of Ghana. Today, we witness the completion of a democratic process of peaceful transfer of power from one Administration to another.
You Ghanaians make us proud. After hard fought campaigns, you have put differences aside and come together as one people to celebrate this victory. We must remember that this event is the fruit of many years of hard labour. Democracy is the fruit of the sacrifice of many generations and must not be taken for granted. I thank you, people of Ghana, for your political maturity and sense of patriotism in reaching this far.
We commend the professionalism and commitment of the independent Electoral Commission and all political parties for applying the needed restraint that paved the way for the peaceful conduct of the elections. The peaceful transition of power in accordance with the will of the people is a sacrosanct pillar of democracy. Where the people are free to speak, free to move and free to choose the destiny, there would always be peace. Where there is peace, every child gets the chance to grow his or her potential in an environment of tranquillity.
On behalf of the ECOWAS Heads of State and in my own name, we extend our greatest salutation to H.E. John Dramani Mahama for his leadership in organising a free, fair and transparent electoral process. Giving the people the freedom and the space to choose their own fate is the greatest act of leadership. We are proud of Ghana today, but this is not unexpected. Ghana has been the bastion
of democracy for many decades after years of turbulence.
John, as you leave the State House, please, remember and cherish the fact that you have many roles to play in the future, in Ghana, in Africa and in the world. We all need your creativity and talent. I am thankful for your cordial relation that you developed between our two countries in finding solutions to the burning problems of our nations and our sub-region. I thank you for demonstrating to all, that indeed, there is life after political power. I look forward to joining you in that track when I turn over to a new Administration in a year from now.
Excellencies Heads of State, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, when ECOWAS was found in about forty years ago, every one of the sixteen countries with very few exceptions was under military rule or one party system. Today, we can say that ECOWAS as a region is the lead in democratic transition. The majority of our leaders today reached power through the democratic process. We must ensure that there is no roll back.
We must ensure that this social dispensation is never lost. For, we cannot afford to go back to the days of military coup and social unrest. We are therefore, confident that our region is transitioning to a stable and a sure democratic culture as demonstrated by the peaceful elections and smooth transitions of power in Cape Verde, la Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria, Benin, Niger and now again, Ghana.
As a region, ECOWAS has made great strives towards integration with one passport, a court, a Parliament and other institutions. This makes us the most integrated community at the regional level. We still face serious challenges when it comes to the free movement of people who travel by road because they
cannot afford air transport. We must ensure that ECOWAS would be truly borderless, and that a truck going from Lagos could reach Dakar without harassment and administrative bottle- necks that constraint trade among our countries. Total integration would only be possible when people could move, live and work freely in any part of ECOWAS.
This is a priority of our region as we work for the transformation under ECOWAS Vision 2020 and the evolution from ECOWAS of States to ECOWAS of people.
While recognising the relevance of all these programmes, we are particularly concerned about the political upheavals within our communities which might have implications for sustainable peace and economic development. All members of ECOWAS are concerned with the increasing incidence of terrorism as intensified in Mali and Burkina Faso.
We are encouraged by the recent victory of the Nigerian Government in the effort to remove the Boko Haram scourge. ECOWAS faces perhaps, the most difficult situation in The Gambia.
After accepting his loss in elections, President Jammeh reversed calls and questioned the results of the elections. He has submitted his grievances to the Supreme Court, which would start its review process on January 10th. ECOWAS is following the process and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, is leading the effort as ECOWAS' mediator.
We call on the people of The Gambia to follow the example of Ghana, and put the interest of the nation above all personal interests. ECOWAS stands by
the people of The Gambia and would exercise every effort to sustain peace and democracy. We stand by the people of The Gambia and we would want to assure them of our own wearing appearance that the principles of democracy in our entire region.
To you, H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo -Addo, we applaud your long-term work and commitment to peace and democracy. We have no doubt that you would strengthen those ideas and you would continue with the political actions that have made Ghana a great nation and an example for all of us.
We warmly welcome you all into the authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government and look forward to the experience and contribution that you would bring to our debates in efforts to integrate our countries further -- economically, socially and politically. Actors may change from time to time but the spirit of unity, peace and solidarity of ECOWAS remains always alive.
Mr President, you have assumed the leadership of this great country at a very difficult time when the world is experiencing sluggish growth, local marketing pressures, particularly, from developing countries -- weak global trade and diminishing capital inflows, terrorism, drugs and human trafficking piracy in the Gulf of Guinea and the impact of climate change.
We know that the stubborn spirit of optimism and hope with which you have reached this far would continue to inspire your action to keep the people of Ghana buoyant during your tenure.
Ghana has always been an active member of ECOWAS and we have no doubt that you would continue to assert Ghana's proactive participation in the activities of the community as we work towards the attainment of our goals. With
you as the newest member, we encourage Ghana's continual commitment to the co- programmes of the sub-regional body including the consolidation of sub- regional peace and security, the conclusion of negotiations and legal actions for the improvement of financial and economic stability in the community.
I would be looking forward to hosting you and your delegation in Monrovia during the 51st Ordinary Summit of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government to be convened in May, 2017.
President Akufo-Addo, once again, on behalf of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, we congratulate you, your Vice President and the gallant people of Ghana. Let the ancient Ghana stand, that stood more than a thousand years ago, be now the modern Ghana and a shining star. Let the light shine even brighter.
Let me conclude by thanking the people of Ghana, sister African countries and the international communities who turned up in their masses today, to celebrate this truly momentous occasion.
Long live Ghana, long live ECOWAS and long live Africa.
I thank you.