President Nana Akufo-Addo (R) and Sierra Leonean President Maada Bio

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been decorated with the highest national award of Sierra Leone, as part of that country’s 60th Independence Day Celebration.

Conferring the “Grand Commander of the Republic of Sierra Leone” award on Tuesday, Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio, noted that the award was in recognition of President Akufo-Addo’s selfless contribution to “deepening democracy and the rule of law in Ghana, and heightening and providing leadership for regional integration and co-operation in Africa.”

The Honour was also in recognition of President Akufo-Addo’s “outstanding career of public service”.

President Maada Bio cited several landmark constitutional cases his Ghanaian counterpart undertook, which have protected the independence of the judiciary, and guaranteed the rights of Ghanaian citizens.

“A bold advocate of multiparty democracy, he challenged despotism, and has since worked to deepen democratic culture and practice in Ghana. His vision of ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ is predicated on the notion that with a structured economy, investments in education and infrastructure, African economies can gradually, but confidently, relinquish the era of aid reliance,” the citation said.

It added that, “An unapologetic multilateralist, President Akufo-Addo is a firm believer in African political and economic integration and socio-economic development…This award also recognizes the immense contribution of the Republic of Ghana to the restoration of peace and democracy in Sierra Leone.”

In his remarks, President Akufo-Addo congratulated the Government and people of Sierra Leone on the 60th anniversary celebration.

“If there is any country in West Africa that has shown resilience and the will to persevere, in the face of numerous challenges and obstacles, there is no better example than Sierra Leone, and this is worthy of commendation”, President Akufo-Addo stated.

“Building a New Sierra Leone Together”, the theme for this celebration, the President stressed, imposes a sacred responsibility on Sierra Leoneans to contribute their quota to the construction of a happy and prosperous Sierra Leone, as well as deepen their sense of cohesion.

“So, whether you are Mende, Temne, Limba, Loko, Fula, Mandingo, Krio, Susu, Kissi or Kru, I appeal to you to look beyond where you come from. You must deepen the cohesion amongst you, and promote a spirit of reconciliation for the sake of your beloved country, its progress and prosperity. You are Sierra Leoneans, first and foremost, and I urge you to wear that accolade with pride,” he added.

As Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS, President Akufo-Addo urged “all of us in the Community to work towards the day when all of us will look to doing business, first in West Africa and Africa, before looking to Europe, Asia or the Americas, because we have the men and women, the goods, the services and the quality.”