My fellow Ghanaians,
It is a privilege for me to celebrate with you this evening the end of 2014, as well as the arrival of a New Year, 2015. Indeed, it is a blessing for us to be alive today to witness the passing of yet another year, and for this, we give thanks to the Almighty God.
I am sure we can all agree that 2014 was a year that presented great challenges, but it was also a year in which those challenges were met with great courage, and even greater compassion. This was especially evident in the way we attended to our losses and made manifest our victories.
The losses this year seemed to be many. A number of us mourned the departure of loved ones, people whose absence will always be felt in our lives. Together, Ghanaians also mourned the departure of several of our nation’s prominent sons and daughters; individuals who served this country with pride and distinction; individuals whose contributions will still be felt far into the future.
In 2014, we were reminded, again and again, of the value of human life. We were reminded that our fates, as citizens of this country and as sister nations of the African continent, are forever intertwined.
And we used these reminders to bring us to a place of triumph as a nation. While the rest of the world hesitated before offering their help, Ghana immediately took a bold stand against fear to lead the fight to contain the Ebola epidemic that has claimed the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters.
It is this type of courage, determination and generous display of humanity that has always defined us as a people, as a nation- not only on an international stage but also right here, on our own soil.
We are at a pivotal point in the development of our nation, and this year many Ghanaians came forward to share their ideas, express their concerns, and offer their opinions on the state of the nation’s affairs and the projection of its future.
As a committed social democrat, I have been encouraged and bolstered by this feedback, which ranges from the critical to the complimentary.
I have listened.
I am listening.
And I will continue to listen.
One of the hallmarks of democracy is the continuous communication that it instills between the people of a nation and their elected representatives. This communication encompasses much more than the exercise of free speech. It supports the assumption of a shared goal, which is the greatest good of the nation.
When I was elected President, I vowed to work in partnership with all the people of Ghana in order to meet that shared goal. To that end, I have relied, and will continue to rely on this free-flow of communication as we move forward on this journey of transformation.
So, beyond listening, beyond hearing, I want to also assure you, my fellow Ghanaians, that your feedback is also being incorporated into programmes, policy and planning of this government.
We must not forget, however, that Ghana is a nation of millions. And while we all share the goal of a peaceful and prosperous Ghana, we will not always agree on how we should meet that goal. But it is through the healthy exchange of ideas and information that we are often able to find or establish a common ground.
So, it is important that as we make our voices heard, we also respect the right of others to have their voices heard as well. If we are to work together for the greater good of our nation, we must communicate responsibly.
Criticising constructively and focusing on solutions instead of merely dwelling on the negative; Defending our opinions without devolving into threats or acts of violence; These are just a few ways that we can strengthen our union.
And working together, despite our seeming differences and all the superficial divisions, we will surely find that no challenge is insurmountable.
My brothers and sisters, the New Year before us holds a wide expanse of possibilities.
Let us not enter 2015 with any cynicism or sense of limitation.
Let us choose to fill the days ahead of us with hope, not despair.
When we look ahead, let us see all that we can achieve, and let us work, individually and collectively, in the interest of progress. We can turn that vision into a reality.
I know that we can do it.
I implore you to please keep your celebrations safe and I wish each of you a Happy and Transformative New Year.
I will see you soon in 2015.