“In recognition of his extraordinary commitment to education by implementing free universal education in Ghana, African Leadership University recognize the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for his exemplary leadership, and I quote “Education is the most powerful weapon for which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
These words were contained in a citation presented to the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, by the African Leadership University (ALU), on Friday, 6th September, 2018, in Kigali, Rwanda.
Speaking prior to presenting the award, Mr. Fred Swaniker, founder of the African Leadership University, explained that President Akufo-Addo embodies the meaning of the quote “education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.”
According to him, Ghana, Africa, and, indeed, the world is already witnessing the impact of of the Free Senior High School Policy on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians, which, for him, “is the reason number one that we thought he deserves this citation.”
In the first year of the implementation of the Free SHS policy, 90,000 more students entered senior high school in 2017 than they did in 2016. Again, in 2018, the second year of the policy, 180,000 more students have been admitted into senior high schools across the country.
The second reason for the award, the ALU Founder said, is the President’s belief in the ability of the youth.
“From the beginning, as he assumed office, he made it very clear that his number priority was to ensure that the youth of Ghana got the opportunity, and were able to get jobs, and he’s implemented the policy of “One District, One Factory”, which is really about promoting the youth entrepreneurship, and making sure that the rural youth got an opportunity for employment,” he added.
Thirdly, President Akufo-Addo’s persistence and perseverance in not giving up on his vision of serving Ghana, according to Fred Swaniker, is one which has to be emulated by this generation of African youth.
“Nelson Mandela was in jail for 27 years, and I believe that one of the traits of great leaders is their persistence, they don’t give up until they achieve their vision. And our President ran for office twice, before he eventually won. And, that, I believe, is the mark of a great leader,” he said.
The final reason for the award being given to President Akufo-Addo, Fred Swaniker said, was his belief in African self-reliance.
“I remember watching him proudly in this video that was going around. It went viral, and many of you might have seen this video, and if you haven’t, then you should watch it. This was when the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, visited and he stood there, as our President told him about Ghana without aid and described his vision for African self-reliance and for Ghana’s self-reliance, where we will no longer depend on colonial powers like France,” he said.
The ALU Founder continued, “I have never felt more proud to be a Ghanaian than when I watched that video. So, Mr. President, thank you so much for really inspiring all of us to think about how, as Africans, we can only drive our destiny and no longer rely on the rest of the world.”