The season of Christmas is upon us again, signaling the end of yet another year. On behalf of the First Lady, my wife Rebecca, my daughters, my grandchildren and my entire family, and on behalf of Government, I send best wishes to all Christians in Ghana, and, indeed, around the world, for a Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a Happy New Year to all Ghanaians and citizens of the world.
As we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and as we give and receive His Goodwill in this Holy Season, I urge all of us to bear in mind the true meaning of His life on Earth.
He was born to reconcile man to God, and, in so doing, demanded that we love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind… and love our neighbours as our ourselves. The cardinal principles of Christianity – charity, faith, humility, love and reconciliation –should guide us in this festive season and beyond.
Fellow Ghanaians, I know these are difficult times for us. Undoubtedly, 2021 has proven to be a tough year not only for us, but also for everyone on the planet. COVID-19 has affected every sector of the global economy and our national life; nothing, in its path, has been spared its ravages.
Our economy, which was growing at an average of 7% in 2017, in 2018 and in 2019, grew by 0.4% in 2020, because growth in industry, services, tourism and manufacturing sectors, which drive the economy and provide jobs for many Ghanaians, contracted dramatically in 2020, as a result of the sudden disruption in the global supply chain and the steep decline in the global economy, which sent the global economy into recession.
This is the stark reality of the situation, not an excuse. Indeed, but for the bold and timely measures put in place by Government to cushion Ghanaians against the worst effects of the pandemic, our situation would have been more precarious.
For the purposes of propaganda and narrow partisan and parochial interests, some would have you believe that the difficulties we are facing are purely Ghanaian phenomena, made by the NPP government under my leadership. Pay no heed to such persons.
They know the truth, but cannot speak it. The significant fact for me is my determination to pull us out of this situation. Government has designed a solid programme for the recovery and revitilisation of the economy, which is the one hundred-billion-cedi Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ Programme. We have completed the implementation of the Stabilisation Phase in 2021, which saw the economy grow at 6.6% in the 3 rd quarter of 2021, with a projected overall growth of 4.4% for 2021. 2022 and 2023 will be the years of Recovery and Revitilisation and faster economic growth.
Already, there are clear signs that the economy is bouncing back strongly, just as there are welcome indications that the global economy is also recovering. The work undertaken by my government, over the last five (5) years, in education, healthcare delivery, agricultural and industrial transformation, infrastructural enhancement, especially in the road sector, the empowerment of the security services, and the development of the digital economy, amongst others, is evident. I appeal to you to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my government in these trying times.
You have stood with me most of my adult life; you gave me a resounding victory in 2016, and you returned me to office again, with the help of God, with another decisive victory in 2020, because I fulfilled, largely, the commitments I made to you in 2016. United in our democracy, we will emerge from this difficult patch stronger and even more resilient. Let us not see the economic difficulties of today as the blueprint for tomorrow. I am a firm, passionate believer in our national potential. We have it in us to rise up and revive our fortunes. There are brighter days ahead for Mother Ghana.
As Christmas fills our hearts with gratitude, let us not forget that COVID-19 is still very much in our midst. The number of active cases is currently on the rise. So, let us act and live responsibly, let us continue to adhere to the protocols of social distancing, enhanced hygiene and mask wearing. We have, for nearly two (2) years, been wearing masks, avoiding shaking hands and using sanitizers, which have been uncomfortable experiences for us all, even though they have helped keep us safe.
The science tells us that getting vaccinated is the most effective way to defeat the virus and go back to our normal way of life, re-open fully our economy, and return our nation onto the path of progress and prosperity.
Government has succeeded in securing considerable quantities of vaccines for the country, numbering nearly twenty-three million (23 million) doses so far. So, I entreat all those who have not been vaccinated to do so.
Our responsibility to one another requires that we be vaccinated. Let us all celebrate the season safely and responsibly, and maintain the peace of the nation. It is my fervent hope that this Christmas will be celebrated without any road accidents. Drivers must minimize their speed, take due precaution for other road users, drive without the influence of alcohol, and wear their seat belts, as must all passengers. And please, in the name of Christian charity, remember to help those who are less fortunate in this festive season.
Me ma mo nyinaa afeyhia pa !! Min ha nyɛ fɛɛ afi oo afi, afi eya ni eba nina wͻ.
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.