I bring you warm greetings from Jubilee House, the seat of our nation’s presidency. Easter is upon us once again, and with it comes the solemn, yet very important reminder of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, which is the foundation of our very faith as Christians.
Easter symbolises God’s plan of salvation for our redemption from sin and the grave, and it must rekindle in us the Christ-like virtues of faith, hope, love and forgiveness. This is further amplified in the words of Holy Scripture, in Isaiah Chapter fifty-three verse five, which reads, and I quote:
“…he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
The season is, thus, a good opportunity to reflect on that sacrifice, and the hope it brings us.
Last year, due to the onset of the pandemic, we had a muted Easter celebration, and we all agreed that the usual festivities associated with Easter had to cancelled. We were faced with an unknown foe, and we, therefore, had to take the difficult but necessary decisions to protect our lives and livelihoods. One year on, COVID-19 is still with us, even though we continue to adhere to the mask wearing and enhanced hygiene protocols.
We have begun a vaccination campaign, with some six hundred thousand (600,000) persons vaccinated. We anticipate that, in the course of the coming week, three hundred thousand (300,000) vaccines would have arrived in the country. Our target is to vaccinate twenty million persons by the end of the year, in other words the whole adult population of Ghana.
Whilst the vaccination campaign is going on, the number of active cases, which stood at over seven thousand (7,000) a few weeks ago, is on a steady decline, currently at some one thousand, seven hundred and forty-six (1,746).
Clearly, my fellow Ghanaians, we are by no means out of the woods, and so, we will have to endure, this year, another quiet Easter, devoid of public gatherings and the merry-making that characterise the Season.
There will, therefore, be no Easter Conventions, Easter picnics, parties, or gatherings at the beaches. Church services must be held for a maximum of two hours, and the requisite social distancing rules must be strictly obeyed. Night clubs, cinemas and pubs continue to be closed. Funerals, concerts, theatrical performances, and parties are banned. Private burials, with no more than twenty-five (25) people, can take place, with the enforcement of the social distancing, hygiene and mask wearing protocols.
Spectators are still banned from going to the stadia to watch football matches. The Police Service will ensure strict conformity to these restrictions, and anyone found to be flouting them will be dealt with in accordance with law.
We all saw how the gains we made prior to last year’s Christmas, where our active case count stood in the hundreds, were eroded because of our failure to continue to adhere to the protocols. Collectively, we have since worked hard to ensure a marked reduction in the number of active cases, and Government, together with the security services, will make sure that, this time, these gains are protected. Let us be each other’s keeper until COVID-19 is eradicated and poses no more threats to our lives and livelihoods.
I know that, as a result of the pandemic and its impact on the economy, things are not what we would like, as far as the economy is concerned. We have, however, outlined a series of measures which, I am confident, will begin the revival and revitalization of the economy, and the rapid growth of the economy which we witnessed before the pandemic will be back again. The future is bright.
Whilst protecting ourselves from COVID-19, I want to make another appeal to you on a matter of considerable importance not only to me, but to the entire populace. Year-in-year-out, accidents on our roads have been, tragically, a part of the celebration of Easter. This year, we must do everything possible to reduce this occurrence to the barest minimum.
The Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) of the Police Service has reiterated its determination to enforce the road traffic laws and regulations, and it is my hope that this Easter will be celebrated without any road accidents. Let us help them in this endeavour by minimizing our speed, taking due precaution for other road users, driving without the influence of alcohol, and wearing our seat belts. Like we have done with the COVID-19 safety protocols, let us also embrace a positive road safety culture that keeps our families and nation safe.
Fellow Ghanaians, I know this is not how we wanted to celebrate Easter. However, just like Christ rose again on the third day, I am suret that Ghana, and, indeed, the whole world, will rise again. As we celebrate Christ’s victory over sin, death and the grave, let us observe all safety protocols and stay safe.
On behalf of my beautiful wife, Rebecca, my children and family, and on behalf of Government, I wish all Ghanaians a Happy Easter, with the hope that the blood spilled on the cross will heal our land, and cleanse us of our iniquities. Just as Christ is risen, Ghana will also rise.
May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong.
I thank you for your attention.