March 5, 2018 By Alusine Sesay
The Ghanaian High Commission in Sierra Leone on Friday, 2nd March,2018,celebrated the 61st independence anniversary ahead of March 6th, which is the actual date for the celebration.
Addressing guests during the cerebration at his residence, Hill Station in Freetown, Ghanaian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Francis Abakah,said they decided to celebrate before time due to expediency in the ongoing preparation and related security concerns surrounding the forthcoming general elections slated for 7th March,2018.
He noted that Independence Day celebration for Ghana represents, “Our 61 years ago as the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to free ourselves from colonial rule, to move on through self-rule to prosperity and development.’
‘As we relish the significance of the period, it is my pleasure to inform you that Ghana is set on a path of progress and development. There is a lot of ongoing and the quest of government is to gradually move the country beyond aid to trade and disengage from the mindset of dependency on handouts and charity which indeed is unsustainable,’ he said.
He stated that there was currently a paradigm shift in the national discourse and engagement and determined effort to grow the economy and effectively mobilise local resources and unleash the full potential of people, particularly the youth, towards realisation of their dreams and aspiration.
‘We are already realising dividends and the country is experiencing a rebound. Currently, there are conscious efforts to develop strategic industries out of the country’s abundant natural resources of the bauxite and iron ore and government is seeking to establish an integrated bauxite and Aluminum Development Authority to regulate the exploitation of our bauxite deposits for the development of the country,’ he said.
The career Ghanaian diplomat continued that there were systematic efforts to also develop the gas and oil industry.
‘It is worth mentioning that only recently that on 18th January,2018,Exxon Mobil, the US Oil Conglomerate signed an agreement with government of Ghana for a major offshore oil and gas exploration as well as the development of related relevant petro-chemical industries,’ he disclosed.
He disclosed that the government of Ghana has introduced free and compulsory education from kindergarten through to Junior Secondary School and that they crowned that effort with the introduction of free Senior High School in 2017 to enable as many Ghanaian children who cannot afford to pay for their secondary education to have access.
‘Prior to the inception of the new administration, every year, over 100,000 young Ghanaian students were unable to transition from junior high school to senior high school, largely because of money. This bold and laudable initiative by the government has enabled over 400,000 school children who otherwise would have dropped out of school and truncated their education, to gain admission into senior secondary schools across the country during 2017 academic year,’ he said.
High Commissioner Abakah disclosed that to show its commitment to issues of accountability, the government of Ghana has established the Office of a Special Prosecutor, nominated and subsequently obtained Parliament’s approval for the appointment of former Attorney General and well-known anti-corruption crusader from the opposition National Democratic Congress party,Hon.Martin Amadu, as the first Special Prosecutor to hold public officials both past and present accountable for their stewardship of the public purse.
He noted that Ghana and Sierra Leone are bound by historic ties which date back nearly two centuries ago.
‘A number of Ghanaians who first obtained higher education in the Gold Coast were educated at the famous Fourah Bay College, here in Freetown. One of such persons was Joseph Casely Hayford, who was one of the founders of the Aborigines Rights Protection Society in the then Gold Coast, the first Ghanaian nationalist organization. Together with others, they founded in 1920,the National Congress of British West Africa, which brought together nationalists from the British colonies of The Gambia,Nigeria,Gold Coast and Sierra Leone, to work together towards securing the liberation of the respective countries from colonial rule,’ he recalled.
He noted that the strong relation between the two countries have survived the post-independence era of the two nations and the past three decades.
He cited the support Ghana has provided for Sierra Leone –ranging from the provision of troops to end the civil war, intervention in the fight against the Ebola outbreak, to the provision of assistance during the flooding and mudslides disaster.
He expressed the need for the conduct of peaceful elections come March 7th, 2018.