President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Born March 29, 1944, in Swalaba, Accra, was raised in Accra, Ghana’s capital. His father’s residence in Accra was effectively the headquarters of the country’s first political party,
the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), after it was formed at
Saltpond on August 4, 1947.
Three of the Big Six (founding fathers of
Ghana) were Nana’s blood relatives: J.B Danquah (grand uncle), William
Ofori Atta (uncle) and Edward Akufo-Addo, who became the third Chief
Justice and later ceremonial President of the Republic from 1970-72, was
Akufo-Addo had his primary education at the Government Boys School
and later Rowe Road School both in Accra Central. Nana went on to
England to study for his O- Level and A- Level examinations. He returned
to Ghana in 1962 to teach at the Accra Academy before going to the
University of Ghana in 1964 to read Economics. After graduating as an
economist, he went on to read law in the UK and was called to the
English Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971 and the Ghana Bar in 1975.
He is married to Rebecca, daughter of the Speaker of the Parliament
of the Third Republic of Ghana, the late Mr. Justice J.H
Griffiths-Randolph. They have five children, with five grandchildren,
and are both devout Church-going Christians.
LEGAL AND BUSINESS CAREER
Akufo-Addo stayed in France for five years as a lawyer at the
now-defunct New York-based international law firm, Coudert Brothers.
Apart from the welcome exposure to the dynamics of international
corporate transactions, his stay in France also made him fluent in
In 1975, he returned home to Accra to continue with his legal career.
He joined the chambers of U. V. Campbell from 1975 to 1979, and in 1979
co-founded the law firm Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co., which has become
one of the prominent law firms in Ghana. Some Ghanaian lawyers who
passed through his law firm are among the most outstanding lawyers at
the Ghanaian bar today.
They include Sophia Akuffo, Justice of the
Supreme Court; Joyce Darko; Daniel Afari Yeboah; Philip Addison; Joe
Ghartey, a former Attorney General and Minister for Justice; Alex
Quaynor; Frank Davies; Kweku Paintsil; Ursula Owusu; Atta Akyea,
Akufo-Addo’s successor as MP for Abuakwa South constituency; Akoto
Ampaw; Yoni Kulendi; Kwame Akuffo; Kwaku Asirifi; and Godfred Dame.
Like the “Doyen of Gold Coast politics”, J. B. Danquah, and others
before him, Akufo-Addo used his law practice to champion the cause of
human rights, rule of law, justice, freedom, and democracy.
He was well
known for giving free legal assistance to the poor and fought for the
rights and liberties of the Ghanaian people. Indeed, many of the
important constitutional cases of the modern era, which, inter alia,
protected the independence of the judiciary, the right of the citizen to
demonstrate without police permit, and the right of equal access of all
political parties to the State-owned media, were undertaken by him. He
is regarded as one of the most brilliant advocates in the history of the
Akufo-Addo has served on the boards and committees of a number of
political, legal, commercial, and social organizations in the country.
He was the first Chairperson of DHL (GH) Ltd; Chairperson, Kinesec
Communications (Co) Ltd, publishers of The Statesman; and the first
Chairperson of the Ghana Committee on Human and Peoples’ Rights. He was
responsible, through his association with the US company, Millicom, for
introducing mobile telephony into the country.
In his early thirties, Akufo-Addo was the General Secretary of the
broad-based People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ), which was
composed of political stalwarts such as Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, William
Ofori-Atta, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Albert Adu Boahen, Sam Okudzeto, Obed
Asamoah, Godfrey Agama, K. S. P. Jantuah, Jones Ofori-Atta, Johnny
Hanson and Nii Amaah Amarteifio (“Mr. No”). This group led the “NO”
campaign in the UNIGOV referendum of 1978, designed to solicit popular
support for a one-party military-led State.
The “No” campaign ultimately
brought about the downfall of the Acheampong military government on 5
July 1978, and the restoration of multiparty democratic rule to the
country in 1979. Akufo-Addo had to go briefly into exile after the
referendum, when his life was in danger. But, from Europe, he could be
heard constantly on the BBC World Service, vigorously criticising the
military rulers back in Ghana and calling for a return to democracy. He
is acknowledged as one of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement in
In 1991, Akufo-Addo was the chairman of the Organising Committee of
the Danquah-Busia Memorial Club, a club dedicated to the preservation of
the memory and ideals of the two great advocates of Ghanaian democracy,
J. B. Danquah and K. A. Busia, Prime Minister of the Progress Party
government of the 2nd Republic of Ghana. Akufo-Addo travelled throughout
Ghana to establish branches of the Club all over the country in the
grassroots style for which he is known. These branches eventually
transformed into local organs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) prior to
the elections of 1992, which heralded the reintroduction of democratic
governance under the 4th Republic.
In 1992, he was the first national organiser of the NPP and, later
that year, campaign manager of the party’s first presidential candidate,
Prof. Albert Adu Boahen, the man of courage who broke the “culture of
silence” in Ghana, and played such a crucial role in the reintroduction
In 1992, Akufo-Addo set up and financed The Statesman newspaper, which has become the unofficial mouthpiece of the NPP.
In 1995, he led the famous “Kume Preko” demonstrations of the
Alliance For Change (AFC), a broad-based political pressure group, which
mobilised millions of people onto the streets of Ghana to protest the
harsh economic conditions of the Rawlings era. Some pundits in Ghana
believe that this was instrumental in re-establishing the NPP as a more
formidable force after Professor Adu Boahen.
Akufo-Addo was elected three times between 1996 and 2008 as Member of
Parliament for the Abuakwa South constituency in the Eastern region of
Ghana. From 2001 to 2007, as Cabinet Minister, first as Attorney-General
and Minister for Justice for two years, and later as Foreign Minister
for five years, Akufo-Addo served in the government of President John
Kufuor with distinction.
As Attorney-General, he was responsible for the repeal of the
Criminal Libel Law, which, hitherto, had been used to intimidate the
media and criminalise free speech. The repeal has enabled the Ghanaian
media become one of the most vibrant and freest in Africa. Under his
chairmanship of the Legal Sector Reform Committee, the implementation of
the court automation programme was initiated.
As Foreign Minister, he was fully involved in the successful Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peace efforts in Sierra
Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Guinea Bissau, and was chairman of the
ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council in 2003.
In 2004, Ghana was elected one of the 15 pioneer members of the
African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council, a mandate that was
renewed at the AU Summit in Khartoum in January 2006.
chosen by his peers on the AU Executive Council to chair the Ministerial
Committee of 15 that fashioned the Ezulwini Consensus, which defined
the African Union’s common position on UN Reforms. He negotiated for the
2007 AU Summit to be held in Accra as part of Ghana’s Golden Jubilee
celebrations, and chaired the AU Executive Council in 2007.
Ghana was elected by her peers to take the non-permanent West African
seat on the UN Security Council for 2006-07. In August 2006, Akufo-Addo
chaired the meeting of the Security Council which took the decision
that halted Israel’s massive incursions into Lebanon. Again, Ghana was
elected to the new UN body, the Human Rights Council, with the highest
number of votes—183 out of 191—of any country, and as a pioneer member
of another UN body, the Peacebuilding Commission.
In October 1998, Nana Akufo-Addo competed for the presidential candidacy
of the NPP and lost to John Kufuor, the man who eventually won the
December 2000 presidential election and assumed office as President of
Ghana in January 2001. Akufo-Addo was the chief campaigner for candidate
Kufuor in the 2000 election and became the first Attorney General and
Minister for Justice of the Kufuor era.
Akufo-Addo resigned from the Kufuor government in July 2007 to
contest for the position of presidential candidate of his party, the
NPP, for the 2008 elections. Competing against 16 others, he won 48% of
the votes in the first round of that election, but was given a unanimous
endorsement in the second round, making him the party’s presidential
In the 7 December 2008 presidential race, he received, in the first
round, more votes than John Atta Mills, the eventual winner. In the
first round, Akufo-Addo received 4,159,439 votes, representing 49.13% of
the votes cast, placing him first, but not enough for the 50% needed
for an outright victory. It was the best-ever performance for a
first-time presidential candidate in the Fourth Republic.
run-off, Mills received 4,521,032 votes, representing 50.23%, thus
beating Akufo-Addo by the smallest margin in Ghana’s, and, indeed, in
Africa’s political history. Akufo-Addo accepted the results without
calling even for a recount, thereby helping to preserve the peace,
freedom and stability of Ghana. Akufo-Addo again contested in the 2012
national elections against the NDC candidate, the late Mills’ successor
as President, John Mahama, and lost.
That election generated
considerable controversy, and was finally decided by the Supreme Court
in a narrow 5/4 decision in favour of John Mahama. Akufo-Addo is
credited with helping to preserve the peace of the country by the
statesmanlike manner in which he accepted the adverse verdict of the
Court, at a time of high tension in the country.
In March 2014, Akufo-Addo announced his decision to seek his party’s
nomination for the third time ahead of the 2016 election. He secured an
unprecedented, landslide victory of 94.35% of the votes in the party’s
presidential primary in October 2014, in a contest with seven
competitors. Akufo-Addo also served as Chair of the Commonwealth
Observer Mission for the South African elections in 2014.
He was elected President of Ghana in the December 7 elections, after
obtaining 53.85% of the total valid votes cast, as announced by the