Ghana is marking its 59th Republic Day anniversary today, July 1, 2019, albeit without a public holiday.
Many are unhappy the day is no longer a public holiday after it was scrapped by the governing New Patriotic Party recently.
Former President John Dramani Mahama took on the Akufo-Addo government in a Facebook post accusing it of revising the country’s history.
The former President in the post said: “Sadly, this significant page in our history has been revised by the Akufo Addo administration through the recent Public Holidays (Amendment) Act 2019, (Act 989).”
[contextly_sidebar id=”Ug3bGDvi4IywBZWMbTNdkOu4ZJK1l87X”]”By this act, the NPP Government has expunged Republic Day, also commemorated as ‘Senior Citizens Day’ from the list of public holidays and replaced it with a questionable founders’ day holiday on August 4th.”
Mahama in the post congratulated senior citizens and forebears for their sacrifices.
“On this memorable day, I congratulate all senior citizens for the significant sacrifices they have made over the decades in nurturing our dear nation to this current stage. I, also, salute our forebears who fought to establish Ghana’s name in history as the Black Star of Africa and the ‘Beacon of Hope’ for African liberation and integration.”
We’ll restore July 1 as public holiday – NDC
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) earlier said it will return the Republic Day to a statutory holiday should it win power in 2020.
After the Public Holiday Amendment Act, 2019 (Act 986) was assented to by President Nana Akufo-Addo in April 2019, Republic Day and AU Day became commemorative holidays.
The Bill also made January 7 Constitution Day. This was the subject of criticism from NDC and Minority legislators in Parliament who accused the government of trying to undermine certain historical figures.
The NDC in a statement marking the Republic Day said the government’s move degraded the significance of the day.
The statement said President Akufo-Addo “has deemed it fit to degrade the importance of this great day from a full public holiday intended to celebrate the efforts of our forebearers in our collective struggle to affirm the benefits of equality, liberty, freedom and justice.”
“The NDC would want to assure all Ghanaians living everywhere that upon its assumption of office in January 2020, Republic Day will be accorded full recognition as one of the more important nation days in our history.”
Setting the birthday of Kwame Nkrumah as Founder’s Day sparked debate over whether other contributors to Ghana’s independence were being sidelined.
In President Nana Akufo-Addo’s proposal, September 21 was to be observed as Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day.
The Presidency’s statement at the time said August 4, is “obviously the most appropriate day to signify our recognition and appreciation of the collective efforts of our forebears towards the founding of a free, independent Ghana.”
The shift was met by criticism from across the political divide, especially groups with Nkrumaist ties.
In May, the Public Holiday Amendment Act 2019 (Act986) was assented to by President Nana Akufo-Addo.
He assented to it on April 16, 2019, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry.
The statement signed by Minister for Interior, Ambrose Dery stated that all holidays are to be recognized by the general public with the awareness that commemorative days would not be observed as holidays.
Below are the recognized public holidays
New Year’s Day – 1st January
Constitution Day – 7th January
Workers’ Day – 1st May
Founders’ Day – 4th August
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day – 21st September
Farmers Day – 1st Friday in December
Christmas Day – 25th December
Boxing Day – 26th December
African Union Day – 25th May
Republic Day – 1st July
The new law now makes Republic Day and AU days commemorative holidays instead of public holidays.
August 4 per the law is now to be recognised as Founders’ Day and January 7th as Constitution Day.
The Minority in Parliament had kicked against the amendments accusing the government of trying to revise the country’s history.
Minority MPs walked out of Parliament to demonstrate their disapproval of the Holidays Amendment Bill.
On March 5 Parliament voted to pass the controversial Bill into law.
“The Holidays Amendment Bill 2018 is duly read for the third time and passed,” Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Aaron Ocquaye said at the time.