I am very glad to be here this afternoon at the investiture ceremony of an outstanding Ghanaian, who has become the Chancellor of Ghana’s premier University, my alma mater, the University of Ghana, Legon.
Offspring of one of the prominent figures of the United Gold Coast Convention, the first nationalist party, UGCC of blessed memory, the eminent jurist, the late R.S. Blay, she is one of the first female alumna of the University.
Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse is taking over as Chancellor from one of Ghana’s most illustrious sons, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, under whose stewardship the University has attained the rank of the best in West Africa. I thank Mr. Kofi Annan, who served the two terms of his mandate, for his invaluable service to the nation. It is not every day that one picks up the mantle of leadership from such as Mr. Kofi Annan So, Madam Chancellor, I am sure that you know that you have your work cut out for you.
Nonetheless, I believe the University could not have picked a worthier successor than you. Your wealth of experience – Chief Director at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations, Member of the Governing Council of the University, Advisor to the 2nd President of the 4th Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor – should ensure a seamless transition, and put you in good stead to help spur on the University onto even greater heights. I commend the authorities of the University for the excellent choice of this distinguished person, one who is also, happily, a firm believer in academic freedom.
As the first female Chancellor of any Ghanaian university, Mrs. Chinery-Hesse blazes, again, a trail for other women to follow, and, moreover, I am sure the University will definitely feel the added benefit of that special quality that a woman can bring to leadership.
One of the most important, immediate challenges, which will confront this University and others, will be the dramatically increased population of students, who will be seeking admission in some two years, as a result of the Free Senior High School policy. I urge you, Madam Chancellor, and all heads of our tertiary institutions, to begin making adequate preparations towards this and future years. The Free Senior High School policy will be a permanent feature of our educational architecture. We cannot be caught off guard, and, as the saying goes, “the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today”.
Chancellor, Chairperson and Members of Council, Vice Chancellor, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Members of Faculty, Students, Ladies and Gentlemen, I assure you of Government’s steadfast commitment and continued support to the University of Ghana, and, indeed, to all other universities in the country. It is my expectation and hope that Legon will continue to produce graduates, who are moulded to take on the opportunities and possibilities for higher achievement, through innovation and creativity, in today’s science and technology-led, knowledge-driven global economy, and who will, thereby, help generate prosperity for the mass of our people in our time.
I pray the University of Ghana has a very happy 70th anniversary celebration, and long may it continue to proceed in truth and integrity to make our nation proud. And, as on the occasion of any anniversary, let us remember, too, those who have gone before, especially those who fought so valiantly for the establishment of this now renowned institution of learning, such as that incomparable Ghanaian of destiny, the great scholar, statesman and apostle of freedom, Joseph Boakye Danquah, whose mighty efforts led the way to make all this possible.
I would want, in concluding this brief intervention at this most auspicious of proceedings, to share with you, especially with the young people on this campus, and, indeed, young people, generally, everywhere in Ghana, one fundamental belief that shapes everything I do, and that is that, we have it in us to be the best generation, the generation that fulfils the dreams of the great patriots who brought our nation independence, the generation whose work will give full meaning to the words of our country’s motto, Freedom and Justice, the generation that will build a new Ghanaian civilisation the equal of any on the face of the planet. Let us be up and doing. Greatness beckons.
Once again, Chancellor, warm congratulations, and I wish you the very best of luck, and God’s guidance in the discharge of your large responsibilities. Enjoy every bit of this moment, you have earned it a hundred-fold.
May God bless Mary Chinery-Hesse and us all, and may God bless our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
Thank you for your attention.