Ghana took its democratic practice a notch higher when President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Tuesday held a historic meeting with the country’s three former Presidents to discuss national issues.
The meeting, held behind closed doors, is said to have been held in an atmosphere of frank exchanges and mutual respect.
Issues which dominated the meeting included the economy, security and socio-political concerns.
Former President Jerry John Rawlings was the first to arrive at the Flagstaff House for the meeting, followed by former President John Agyekum Kufuor and then former President John Dramani Mahama.
They were received by the Chief of Staff, Mrs Frema Opare-Osei, and her deputy, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor.
After the initial exchange of pleasantries and the media had been given photo opportunities, the leaders retired into a closed-door session that lasted for two hours.
The engagement between the President and the former Presidents was historic because it was the first time that three former Ghanaian leaders and the sitting President had met to discuss national issues.
The late President John Evans Atta Mills had once held a one-on-one meeting with former President Kufuor.
A communique issued at the end of the meeting said the meeting had been held in a good atmosphere of frank exchanges and mutual respect.
It said it was the intention of President Akufo-Addo to ensure that meetings with the three former Presidents would become a regular feature of his administration.
Further details on the meeting were still not available as of the time of filing this report.
Meanwhile, at a meeting with appointees who served in his government last March, former President Mahama was reported to have indicated that he would be frank with President Akufo-Addo at the scheduled meeting at the Flagstaff House yesterday.
Mr Mahama said he would express his disappointment with how the President had handled some issues after the transition, especially with regard to the way some functionaries of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had raided the homes of officials of the previous administration at dawn to look for vehicles.
“If you can’t look for vehicles in a more civilised manner than having shock troops going into people’s houses, breaking down their gates and say you are looking for vehicles,” former President Mahama was quoted to have said.
In his Inaugural speech at the Independence Square on Saturday, January 7, 2017, President Akufo-Addo gave the indication that he would draw on the rich experiences of the three former Presidents in his quest to execute the mandate entrusted into his care by the people of Ghana.
“I am in the unique position of being able to draw on the wisdom and experience of three former Presidents of the Republic — their Excellencies Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama. They represent the continuity of the institutions of our Republic, for which we thank God,” he said.
In his State of the Nation Address to Parliament on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, the President had reiterated his intention to engage the former Presidents when he said: “I am in the enviable position of being the first Ghanaian leader to be able to draw on the experiences of three living former Presidents. This should, definitely, enrich my tenure of office.”
Meanwhile, the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has applauded President Akufo-Addo and described his decision to meet with the surviving former presidents as a good move that will eventually lead to all-inclusive governance, reports Dominic Moses Awiah.
According to the Deputy Director of CDD, Mr Franklyn Oduro, although the public was not made aware of the nature of the discussions that took place, the President’s step was commendable.
“I think what President Nana Akufo-Addo did was one of the best moves in recent times. It is very important to move from exclusion and work towards inclusion and that is what the President did,” he said in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
Touching on the essence of the meeting, Mr Oduro said there was the need for President Akufo-Addo to look beyond his party and tap into the knowledge and experiences of resourced persons, especially ex-presidents.
“I would call on the President to engage the former leaders in such meetings, at least twice a year because it will help create the platform for the entire nation to come together and help build the country,” he said.
Mr Oduro said Ghana had reached a stage where the people ought to move beyond partisanship and come together to solve the country’s development challenges.
“Our constitution does not prevent Presidents from seeking the views and knowledge of former heads of state. If it is about Ghana’s growth, such initiatives should be encouraged more,” he added.
Mr Oduro, said the CDD would welcome any move by the President so long as it would propel the nation to attain its development goals.