- President John Kufuor has finally broken his long silence on the wild public punching that followed the creation of the new highest honour, the "Grand Order of the Star and Eagle of Ghana", dispelling notion from some quarters that he had designed the award for himself.
Rather, he said, the honour that supersedes even the former highest "Star of the Order of Volta" created by the constitution of Ghana in the post-independent era, is created for the institution of the presidency.
Mr Kufuor's government that created the highest award also nominated 241 Ghanaians for national awards. The personalities nominated for their diverse contribution to the growth and development of Ghana included former President Jerry John Rawlings, the leader of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, Professor John Evans Atta Mills and several opposition and ruling party members at a national event on 3 July in Accra.
Some of the nominated awardees, including Mr Rawlings, Mr Mills and several opposition figures have publicly rejected the award, arguing that the inclusion of some personalities has demeaned its essence.
"I have, after very careful reflection, come to the conclusion, regretfully, that I am unable to accept the award of, Order of The Star-Companion, for which I have been nominated by President John Agyekum Kufuor," said Mr Mills, unconvinced that the "award would help promote national unity, reconciliation, social cohesion and also enhance multi-party democracy."
The new award for President Kufuor has already sparked controversy in almost every strata of Ghanaian society, with most people blaming Mr Kufuor for rewarding a serving head of state, starting with himself. They asked the President to allow other people to determine whether he deserves such an award.
The Ghanaian leader who was conferred the Grand medal of St. Mark differs with his critics, believing that the occupant of the highest office of the land is entitled to be honoured if he serves the nation well.
He said has to set the ball rolling for others to follow. "As for the President being given honours he is entitled to it and I have to start it for others to follow," he said.
A delegation of Christian leaders - the Pope, Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa of the Greek Orthodox Church - bestowed the Grand medal on Mr Kufuor. The highest church award, which is equivalent to the knighthood, is usually preserved for leaders of Presidents who offer distinguished services to their countries.
Beatitudes Theodoras, who led the delegation, said President Kufuor for his excellent contribution to Africa while serving as the Chairman of the African Union.
Under President Kufuor's rule, he said, Ghana under had become "a respectable and shining example in Africa." Theodoras said, "we are happy to see you do many important things for Ghana and Africa."
Some Ghanaians supported Mr Kufuor's creation that the new honour will "give respect to the office of the President," a fact he has "known and appreciated."
Kufuor regretted that too much has been centered around something whose creation is in tandem with the constitution.
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