Mills' life is worth celebrating
7/26/2012 8:00:05 PM -
Ebo Quansah in Accra
In the midst of life, say the sages, we are in death. The passing away of Asomdweehene John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic and Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces has virtually frozen all activities at the centre of the earth.
'When beggars die,' wrote William Shakespeare, 'there are no comets seen. The heavens themselves blaze for the death of Princes.'
Since the official statement from Chief of Staff officially announced that Prof. John Evans Atta Mills had joined his ancestors, the nation has been in grief.
Tributes from all manner of people have poured in to sympathize with the Government and people of Ghana. United States President Barack Hussein Obama, the first head of state to visit Ghana after the swearing in of then President Mills, has expressed his regret at the passing away of the leader of the nation.
His Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has expressed her profound sorrow at the passing on of the man whose humble nature and willingness to co-operate with all manner of people endeared him to the hearts of all and sundry.
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. David Cameron described the late President as a tireless defender of democracy in West Africa and across the continent, and he will be greatly missed.
Former junta head, Jerry John Rawlings, who engineered the formation of the ruling National Democratic Congress from the butt of the gun, spoke to the BBC about his former deputy.
Though everybody knew that the deceased Head of State had not enjoyed a clean bill of health for sometime now, it was a bit out of the mark for the deceased Head of State's former boss to suggest on BBC that he could have lived longer if he had been wiser.
Everybody knew that Prof. Atta Mills had not enjoyed the best of health throughout the three and a half years of leading the nation. But I thought it was not statesmanlike for the former junta head to go on international radio to discuss the type of illness that might have taken him to his ancestors.
'It was quite a shock to both my wife and I because though he has been battling with cancer for a while. This is certainly the wrong time for him to go because we have elections around the corner in December,' Flt. Lt. Rawlings said.
The man who took the deceased Head of State from political oblivion to become Head of State of the Republic continued: 'Quite frankly, I think that had he been advised and done something wiser earlier on, he would probably have survived for six or seven years, I guess. But it got too high. It got extremely high.'
I do not believe that as a statesman, former President Rawlings had to make these assertions on international radio. I am appalled by Mr. Rawlings assertion that one of the reasons why he had failed to appreciate the work of the deceased Head of State was his unwillingness to try officials of the Kufuor Government for the murder of a number of women during his Rawlings' own regime.
I fail to appreciate the concerns of Mr. Rawlings. As head of state, he had no clue to the assassination of more than 32 women across the country. When the Kufuor regime tried to unravel the mystery, Mr. Rawlings, who had been touring the country and castigating members of the regime for their connection to these murders, was given the opportunity to prove his assertion.
Not only did he fail to do so. He created laughter in society by calling for chemical interrogation as condition for disclosure. The founder of the NDC acknowledged the contribution of the deceased leader in nation-building, though.
'He's played his part as my vice-President, he was one of the finest, but there again, considering that the cancer affected his eyes and ears, he could not sustain more than three hours a day, so it was going to affect his performance.'
It is common knowledge that there is no love lost between Jerry Rawlings and President John Dramani Mahama. Even then, I shudder to think about the former junta head's reason for declining to proffer an opinion on the man Mr. Rawlings himself chose to lead his Communication Ministry when he sat at the Castle.
Asked to comment on the competence of the new President of Ghana, Mr. Rawlings told the BBC: 'I don't k now, I hope.'
It is a known fact that the founder of the NDC and the new President are not the best of pals. In the run-up to the 2008 elections, the grapevine was awash with rumours that on the day Mr. John Dramani Mahama was officially accepted at a meeting of the Functional Executive Committee of the NDC to become the running mate to then Presidential Candidate Mills, a wrong time for the meeting was deliberately communicated to the founder. By the time Flt Lt. Rawlings got to the meeting grounds, Mr. Mahama had already been introduced and accepted as Vice-Presidential candidate.
Insiders said that the founder of the party was livid. But there was nothing that he could do to reverse the decision of the party's top organ. Evidence points to the fact that the tension that characterized the relationship between the office of the founder and the Castle is likely to continue.
I am inclined to side with ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, who suggested that the whole nation should celebrate the life of the departed Head of State. Kufuor said, having earned as an exceptionally great professor, a tax expert who led the Internal Revenue Service for a number of years and became President of the Republic. How many people will get the opportunity to live such a brilliant life?' Kufuor asked.
The Gentle giant said Ghanaians should let the departed Head of State's life guide them to temper with the incessant partisanship and divisiveness that has characterized the nation's politics.
I cannot agree more with the Gentle Giant, whose tenure as Head of State brought tension in society to a very low level.
The deceased President was a sportsman. He played for the University of Ghana team at football and hockey. In fact, he was playing active hockey as a key member of the Old Achimotan and Citizens teams, even when he was Vice-President of the Republic.
He became a top sports administrator - as Board Chairman of Accra Hearts of Oak, Board Chairman of the National Sports Council and Vice-President of the Ghana Olympic Committee.
On the academic front, he was lecturer, senior lecturer and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana. He was for several years head of the Internal Revenue Service, during which time he spear-headed the introduction of the Value Added Tax that has come to raise finance for a number of worthy courses.
With such an illustrious career, the nation has much to celebrate about the life of the former President. Some of us are waiting on the new President to outline how the nation would honour its departed head.
In the words of Archbishop Nicholas Duncan-Williams, head Pastor of Action Faith Chapel, 'it is not how you die. I think we emphasize too much about death. But the family and all of us as citizens should reflect more on how he lived so that all of us can be strengthened to up our eyes to the future.'