Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was born and raised in Ga-Maami and the Nima area of Accra. Akufo-Addo received his primary education first at the Government Boys School, Adabraka, and later at the Rowe Road School (now Kimbu), both in Accra Central. He went to England to study for his O-Level and A-Level examinations at Lancing College, Sussex. He returned to Ghana in 1962 to teach at Accra Academy Secondary School, before going to study Economics at the University of Ghana, Legon, and earning a BSc(Econ) degree in 1967. He subsequently studied law in the UK and was admitted to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971 and the Ghana bar in July 1975.
Akufo-Addo stayed in France for five years as a lawyer at the now-defunct New York-based international law firm, Coudert Brothers. Apart from the welcome exposure to the dynamics of international corporate transactions, his stay in France also made him fluent in French.
In 1975, he returned home to Accra to continue with his legal career. He joined the chambers of U.V. Campbell from 1975 to 1979, and in 1979 co-founded the law firm Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co., which has become one of the prominent law firms in Ghana. Some Ghanaian lawyers who passed through his law firm are among the most outstanding lawyers at the Ghanaian bar today. They include Sophia Akuffo, Justice of the Supreme Court; Joyce Darko; Daniel Afari Yeboah; Philip Addison; Joe Ghartey, a former Attorney General and Minister for Justice; Alex Quaynor; Frank Davies; Kweku Paintsil; Ursula Owusu; Atta Akyea, Akufo-Addo’s successor as MP for Abuakwa South constituency; Akoto Ampaw; Yoni Kulendi; Kwame Akuffo; Kwaku Asirifi; and Godfred Dame.
Akufo-Addo has served on the boards and committees of a number of political, legal, commercial, and social organizations in the country. He was the first Chairperson of DHL (GH) Ltd; Chairperson, Kinesec Communications (Co) Ltd., publishers of The Statesman; and the first Chairperson of the Ghana Committee on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
In his early thirties, Akufo-Addo was the General Secretary of the broad-based People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ), which was composed of political stalwarts such as Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, William Ofori-Atta, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Albert Adu Boahen, Sam Okudzeto, Obed Asamoah, Godfrey Agama, K. S. P. Jantuah, Jones Ofori-Atta, Johnny Hanson and Nii Amaah Amartefio (“Mr. No”). This group led the “NO” campaign in the UNIGOV referendum of 1978, designed to solicit popular support for a one-party military-led State. The “No” campaign ultimately brought about the downfall of the Acheampong military government on 5 July 1978, and the restoration of multiparty democratic rule to the country in 1979. Akufo-Addo had to go briefly into exile after the referendum, when his life was in danger. But, from Europe, he could be heard constantly on the BBC World Service, fighting against the military rulers back in Ghana and calling for a return to democracy. He is acknowledged as one of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement in Ghana.
In 1991, Akufo-Addo became the chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Danquah-Busia Memorial Club, a club dedicated to the preservation of the memory and ideals of the two great advocates of Ghanaian democracy, J. B. Danquah and K.A. Busia, Prime Minister of the Progress Party government of the 2nd Republic of Ghana. Akufo-Addo travelled throughout Ghana to establish branches of the Club all over the country in the grassroots style for which he is known. These branches eventually transformed into local organs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) prior to the elections of 1992, which heralded the reintroduction of democratic governance under the 4th Republic.
In 1992, he was the first national organizer of the NPP and, later that year, campaign manager of the party’s first presidential candidate, Prof. Albert Adu Boahen, the man of courage who broke the “culture of silence” in Ghana, and played such a crucial role in the reintroduction of democracy.
In 1992, Akufo-Addo set up and financed The Statesman newspaper, which has become the unofficial mouthpiece of the NPP.
In 1995, he led the famous “Kume Preko” demonstrations of the Alliance For Change (AFC), a broad-based political pressure group, which mobilized millions of people onto the streets of Ghana to protest the harsh economic conditions of the Rawlings era. Some pundits in Ghana believe that this was instrumental in re-establishing the NPP as a more formidable force after Prof Adu Boahen.
Akufo-Addo was elected three times between 1996 and 2008 as Member of Parliament for the Abuakwa South constituency in the Eastern region of Ghana. From 2001 to 2007, as Cabinet Minister, first as Attorney-General and Minister for Justice for two years, and later as Foreign Minister for five years, Akufo-Addo served in the government of President Kufuor with distinction.
As Attorney-General, he was responsible for the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, which, hitherto, had been used to intimidate the media and criminalize free speech. The repeal has enabled the Ghanaian media become one of the most vibrant and freest in Africa. Under his chairmanship of the Legal Sector Reform Committee, the implementation of the court automation program was initiated.
As Foreign Minister, he was fully involved in the successful Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peace efforts in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Guinea Bissau, and was chairman of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council in 2003.
In 2004, Ghana was elected one of the 15 pioneer members of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council, a mandate which was renewed at the AU Summit in Khartoum in January 2006. Akufo-Addo was chosen by his peers on the AU Executive Council to chair the Ministerial Committee of 15 that fashioned the Ezulwini Consensus, which defined the African Union’s common position on UN Reforms. He negotiated for the 2007 AU Summit to be held in Accra as part of Ghana’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, and chaired the AU Executive Council in 2007.
Ghana was elected by her peers to take the non-permanent West African seat on the UN Security Council for 2006-07. In August 2006, Akufo-Addo chaired the meeting of the Security Council which took the decision that halted Israel’s massive incursions into Lebanon. Again, Ghana was elected to the new UN body, the Human Rights Council, with the highest number of votes183 out of 191of any country, and as a pioneer member of another UN body, the Peacebuilding Commission.
In October 1998, Nana Akufo-Addo competed for the presidential candidacy of the NPP and lost to John Agyekum Kufuor, the man who eventually won the presidential election in Ghana in December 2000 and assumed office as President of Ghana in 2001. Akufo-Addo was the chief campaigner for candidate Kufuor in the 2000 election and became the first Attorney General and Minister for Justice of the Kufuor era.
Akufo-Addo resigned from the Kufuor government in July 2007 to contest for the position of presidential candidate of his party, the NPP, the then ruling party of Ghana, for the 2008 elections. Competing against 16 others, he won 48% of the votes in the first round of that election, but was given a unanimous endorsement in the second round, making him the party’s presidential candidate.
In the first round of the 7 December 2008 presidential race, he received more votes than John Atta Mills, the eventual winner. In the first round, Akufo-Addo received 4,159,439 votes representing 49.13% of the votes cast, placing him first, but not enough for the 50% needed for an outright victory. It was the best-ever performance for a first-time presidential candidate in the Fourth Republic. In the run-off, Mills received 4,521,032 votes, representing 50.23%, thus beating Akufo-Addo by the smallest margin in Ghana’s, and, indeed, in Africa’s political history. Akufo-Addo accepted the results without calling even for a recount, thereby helping to preserve the peace, freedom and stability of Ghana. Akufo-Addo again contested in the 2012 national elections against the NDC candidate, the late Mills’ successor as President, John Mahama, and lost. That election generated considerable controversy, and was finally decided by the Supreme Court in a narrow 5/4 decision in favor of John Mahama. Akufo-Addo is credited with helping to preserve the peace of the country by the statesmanlike manner in which he accepted the adverse verdict of the Court, at a time of high tension in the country.
In March 2014, Akufo-Addo announced his decision to seek his party’s nomination for the third time ahead of the 2016 election. He secured an unprecedented, landslide victory of 94.35% of the votes in the party’s presidential primary in October, 2014, in a contest of 7 competitors. Akufo-Addo also took time off to serve as Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Mission for the South African elections in 2014, building on his reputation as Ghana’s Former Foreign Minister.
SPEECH DELIVERED DECEMBER 8, 2016
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, fellow Ghanaians,
A few minutes ago, at 7:51pm precisely, the President of the Republic and the NDC presidential candidate, H.E. John Dramani Mahama, called me on the phone to congratulate me on my victory in the presidential election of 7th December 2016. He wished me the best of luck and God’s blessings, and assured me of his full co-operation in organizing the transition from his administration to mine. I thanked him for this graceful gesture, which is in the finest traditions of Ghanaian statesmanship and, on my part, assured him of my cooperation for a successful transition. I also thanked him for his service to our nation and said that I felt sure that his contribution to the welfare of our Republic was by no means over. I have also received words of congratulation from my other competitors, Mr. Ivor Greenstreet, our former 1st Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, Dr. Edward Mahama, and Mr. Jacob Osei Yeboah. I am grateful to them.
The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei, who is the returning officer for presidential elections, in fulfilment of her constitutional obligations, has tonight, at 8:54pm, declared me the winner of the 2016 presidential election, with 5,716,026 votes, representing 53.85% of the valid votes cast. I am grateful to her for the announcement and her words of congratulation.
I thank Almighty God for His grace and favor in granting victory to the NPP and myself in this election. As His Word says in the Book of Holy Scripture in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
There has never been a more humbling moment in my life, and I thank you, the good people of Ghana, for this massive show of support and the confidence you have reposed in me and my party. I make this solemn pledge to you today – I will not let you down and will do all in my power to live up to your hopes and expectations. You are to be commended for the mature, peaceful and orderly manner in which you, once again, exercised your democratic franchise. The democratic credentials of our nation have been further enhanced by your conduct.
The Electoral Commission, under its new leadership, with Charlotte Osei in the Chair, is to be congratulated for organizing this credible election. She and the Commission have allayed the fears of many about their capacity to conduct a good election. This election has contributed to strengthening the principles of democratic accountability in our body politic and the Commission will take a considerable part of the credit for that welcome outcome.
Our security services are to be commended for ensuring a generally peaceful conduct of the poll, and doing so in a professional manner. That is what the nation expects of them.
To members and sympathizers of the great Elephant family, to our illustrious former President of the Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, to our founding members, leading figures, members of Party organs, parliamentary candidates and Members of Parliament, current and past national officers, regional, constituency, electoral area and polling station executives, thousands and thousands of volunteers, polling station agents, Kufuor-era appointees, campaign officials and staff, so ably led by Campaign Manager Peter Mac Manu, and to my running mate, the next Vice President of the Republic, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and his dynamic wife, Samira, I say a big thank you to each and every one of you for your hard work, commitment and encouragement, and for your belief in me and in my leadership of our party over the last 8 years. Whilst this occasion would understandably lead to widespread jubilation amongst party supporters, I entreat them to respect the peace and the property and lives of everybody, especially those of our political opponents. We are the party of the rule of law, and we should act accordingly with magnanimity in our moment of victory.
To the senior citizens of our country who have given me invaluable advice over the years, amongst them, the former President of the Republic, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Kofi Annan, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, the former Chief of Defense Staff, Gen. J.B. Danquah, the Chairman of the NPP’s National Council of Elders, the veteran statesman, C.K. Tedam, and Captain Kojo Tsikata, erstwhile PNDC member responsible for National Security, I thank you for your counsel and for sharing your wisdom with me, and hope I can continue to count on you during the challenging period ahead of me.
To the numerous priests and imams who have prayed for my soul and who have taken the trouble to intercede with the Almighty on my behalf, amongst them, Cardinal Emeritus Peter Akwasi Sarpong, Rt. Rev. Asante Antwi, Most. Rev. Dr. Justice Akrofi, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Martey, Apostle Opoku Nyinah, Bishop Yinka Sarfo, Pastor Mensa Otabil, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams, Rev. Victor Kusi Boateng, Venerable Hansen Addy, Venerable Joseph Lamptey, Canon Noah Mensah, Canon Antonio Nelson, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Ayittey-Mensah, Very Reverend Emmanuel Kwabena Aryee, the Chief Imam, His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, the Ashanti Region Chief Imam, Sheikh Abdul Mumin Haroun, Rev. Anthony Kwadwo Boakye, Rev. Isaac Owusu Bempah, Rev. Ebenezer Adarkwa Yiadom, Rev. Kofi Amponsah and Prophet Gideon Danso, I am deeply grateful for your spiritual solidarity of which I shall avail myself continuously, now and in the future.
I take this opportunity to thank you, members of the Ghanaian media, for your continuing engagement in the public interest of our country. Your vigilance and activism are now by-words in the consistent efforts our people are making to carve a secure, democratic future for themselves. Senior journalists like Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, Gina Blay, Egbert Faibille, Ebo Quansah, Ken Kuranchi, Kwami Sefa Kayi, Samuel Atta Mensah and Kwabena Kwakye, amongst others, have set admirable standards of professionalism and ethical conduct which should guide the younger generation.
I want to thank the various observer missions who have assisted us to ensure a credible process for our election. I thank the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), under the chairmanship of the venerable former Supreme Court judge, Justice V.C.R.A.C Crabbe, for their important work, and that of the observer mission of our regional body, ECOWAS, led by the distinguished Liberian statesman, Dr. Amos Sawyerr, the observer mission of our continental body, the AU, led by the respected former President of the Republic of Namibia, His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, and the observer mission of the Commonwealth led by the eminent African, the former President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, as well as the strong observer mission from our friends of the European Union, and the National Democratic Institute of the United States of America, led by the former U.S Assistant Secretary of State, the well-known diplomat, Ambassador Johnnie Carson. They have assured us of the great importance the international community attaches to the growth of Ghanaian democracy.
And to my beautiful wife, my beloved Rebecca, who waged such a great campaign in her own right, my daughters, Gyankroma, Valerie, Dokua, my sister Marigold, my brother Edward, and my entire family, I, firstly, must apologize for taking you on this rollercoaster ride. I am, however, very grateful for the love and support you have given me, and for standing shoulder to shoulder with me through the years till now. Long may it so continue.
Let me pause to remember colleagues who fell in the course of our campaign – Adams Mahama, Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, J.B Danquah Adu, Peter Wiafe Peprah, Abubakar Saddique, Kwabena Boadu, and others. May their souls continue to rest in perfect peace in the bosom of the Almighty until the last day of the Resurrection when we shall all meet again. Amen.
Fellow Ghanaians, you have not elected me to serve one party, but to serve the entire nation. The President of Ghana is President for every single Ghanaian, without discrimination, malice or ill-will to any ethnic group or political or religious affiliation. Whether you supported me or not, whether you campaigned for me or not, whether you voted for me or not, I can promise you one thing. I will do my best to serve your interests, and put our country back on the path of progress and prosperity. God did not put us on this rich land, a land blessed with an abundance of human and natural resources, to be poor.
I am confident, and I have faith that, with God’s guidance and your active help and hard work, we will move our country forward. Together, we will change Ghana, and use all the blessings that the Almighty has bestowed on us to bring prosperity to our people and nation in our time. Together, we will fulfil the destiny of Ghana, the destiny of freedom, justice and prosperity that the ancestors and founders of our nation defined for us.
God bless our homeland Ghana, and make our nation great and strong.
The battle is still the Lord’s.
Onyankopon nhyira mu nyinaa
Nyɔɧmɔ ajɔɔ nyɛ fɛɛ
Mawu nɛ yira mi
Allah i saa muku Albarka