Standing behind the podium with Ghana’s coat of arms facing the audience, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo opened his remarks with the trademark ‘Fellow Ghanaians’.
It was evident with subtle messages that a lot of thought had gone into the decision that was about to be announced.
The president a few days earlier had explained how his administration would consider every other option before a nationwide lockdown.
Speaking at a meeting with the leadership of Ghana’s Trades Union Congress (TUC), Nana Addo acknowledged although he had heard conversations around a lockdown to halt the spread of coronavirus disease COVID-19 in the country, the ordinary Ghanaian needed to be considered.
“People in Ghana are now talking about a lockdown,” the President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said.
“Majority of people who will be affected by decisions of that nature are the working people of our country. The ordinary people of Ghana. They are the ones who will be affected and it is important for us to take into account the circumstances and conditions. When we lock down Accra, what are the consequences?”
“A responsible government is required to look at all the implications before decisions are made. And that is the exercise we are currently engaged in and I am hoping that much sooner than later we will come to an agreement on what those measures are and the Ghanaian people will be informed.”
By the time Nana Addo stood behind the podium close to midnight on Friday, March 27, 2020, the decision had been made. Whether the choice of time was a strategic move to halt people from panic moving or just a result of long decision-making meeting is yet to be known.
However, his choice of fashion was one that spoke volumes. This was a hard decision for the president to announce.
Adorned in his usual African print for all his previous three addresses around the coronavirus pandemic, the president wore a cloth called ‘Anisuo’ in one of Ghana’s local languages, Twi. It literally translates ‘drops of tears’ which was his mood ahead of telling the good people of his country there was a need to restrict their movement for at least 14 days.
To make it a little easier on the people, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo started to highlight some of the key difficult decisions that had yielded good results in an attempt to manage coronavirus disease COVID-19 spread in the West African country.
Among them was Ghana’s decision to close its borders as announced on March 21, 2020.
With 1030 people entering the country after the announcement being forced into mandatory quarantine with the state taking all the cost that came with it, 78 of the persons put under quarantine had tested positive for the virus at the time of Nana Addo’s lockdown address.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo then moved to emphasise on the fact that it was his job to protect the people of Ghana, referencing the oath he swore on January 7, 2017, when he was made President of the Republic of Ghana.
In what was a relevant clarification for what was about to be imposed on some citizens and residents of Ghana, Nana Addo said:
“All that government is doing is intended to achieve five (5) key objectives – limit and stop the importation of the virus; contain its spread; provide adequate care for the sick; limit the impact of the virus on social and economic life; and inspire the expansion of our domestic capability and deepen our self-reliance.”
Since importation of the virus had already been addressed with closed borders, the next point was to avoid its spread within the country.
Based on recommendations by the Ghana Health Service, Ghana’s president His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, on powers granted under the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012) restricted movement I the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area for a period of two weeks.
“It will give us the opportunity to try to halt the spread of the virus, and scale-up effectively contact tracing of persons who have come into contact with infected persons, test them for the virus, and, if necessary, quarantine and isolate them for treatment, should they prove to have the virus,” Nana Addo said of his announced restrictions.
After outlining specific details of the partial lockdown, Ghana’s president would go on to say something that has been a favourite quote of the world as it battles the coronavirus pandemic: “we know what to do to bring back our economy back to life. What we do not know how to do is to bring people back to life.”
Highlighting projections by the Bank of Ghana’s worst-case GDP growth rate scenario of 2.5% for 2020, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a mixture of self praise of what his government had achieved in shaping Ghana’s economy and concern for the lives of the people it is his job to protect said:
“Fellow Ghanaians, with the Bank of Ghana predicting a worst-case GDP growth rate scenario of 2.5% for 2020, should the virus continue to linger for the rest of the year, the effects on our economy would be dire.
“However, as we have demonstrated over the course of the last three years, where we inherited an economy that was growing at 3.4% and transformed it into one which has grown by an average of 7% over the last three (3) years, I assure you that we know what to do to bring back our economy back to life. What we do not know how to do is to bring people back to life.
“We will, therefore, protect people’s lives, then their livelihoods.”
Starting with a few Ghanaians on social media jokingly highlighting how Nana Addo’s quote will give Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari unwarranted backlash on Saturday based on previous trends, the quote of Ghana’s president swiftly moved from there to become the word’s favourite in this troubling time.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization acknowledged the powerful message by Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, thanking him for his words to the world for a healthier, safer and fairer world.
Professor and chair of Global Public Health at The University of Edinburgh Devi Sridhar quoted the president’s tweet with literally what can be termed ‘Nana Addo to the world. Hashtag leadership’.
Sherry Pagoto, a professor at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) and a clinical psychologist hailed Nana Addo for setting the example of how to lead.
Piers Morgan, popular English broadcaster, journalist, writer and fair to say a critic of many things, showed his appreciation of how Akufo-Addo ‘perfectly spells out the bottom line’.
Internally in Ghana, people continued to love His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s charisma in handling all coronavirus updates in the country.
The love showed from the outside world was no different from within.
From popular Ghanaian musician Joey B’s ‘you’re wise’ acknowledgement of Nana Addo’s tweet to nationalities of other countries asking if Ghana’s president His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo could rule two nations at a go, here’s how an African politician became a world favourite with his quote in the face of coronavirus pandemic.
Read more reactions to Nana Addo's coronavirus quote HERE.