The beginning of the final journey
8/9/2012 2:30:05 PM -
Time stood still for all Ghanaians yesterday. It was the day when the journey of no return officially began for fallen Head of State Prof. John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills. The mortal remains of the late President was laid in state for people from all walks of life to pay their last respects. It was also an opportunity for the people to catch a last glimpse of the body before it disappears into eternity.
Before the body came to lie in state at the Banquet Hall of the State House, it was taken along some major routes in the national capital to his private home at the Regimanuel Gray Estate, off the Spintex Road, before a slow march to the Castle, the seat of Government, from where the late Commander in Chief operated until that Black Tuesday on July 24, 2012.
It was after the date with Castle staff that the body was sent to the Banquet Hall, where it would lie until the state funeral tomorrow. When the body finally arrived at the Banquet Hall, President John Dramani Mahama and his deputy, Vice-President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, and their wives were the first to pay their last respects, followed by former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor, with their better halves by their sides, before parliamentarians and political leaders took their turns.
At the time of going to press, many ordinary Ghanaians had taken their turn to file past the body of the fallen Head of State, who would be laid to rest after the funeral service at the Independence Square. The Chronicle takes the opportunity to congratulate Ghanaians for the unity of purpose exhibited so far. We are impressed with the unitary stance of all Ghanaians in this most difficult of times.
We are happy too that the ruling party has so far refrained from using the platform to campaign. So far, the NDC has respected the call for a bi-partisan approach to the mourning of the fallen Head of State. Of course, the various opposition parties have also recognised the fact that Professor Mills was a 'Father For All,' and contributed their quota to make the event, though solemn, very memorable.
When the leader of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, arrived with his officials and backroom staff, there was no display of party colours. Neither was there any vocal reference to his presence and that of his party members.
Paa Kwesi Nduom and officials of his Progressive People's Party, Hassan Ayariga of the People's National Convention, and Dr. Abu Sakara Forster and officials of the Convention People's Party would not be left out of the mourning, as they arrived to grieve with the bereaved family.
The nation has passed the unity test so far. The Chronicle would like to believe that national unity would survive the mourning period and aid the forward march of this society.
We would like to believe that arrangements for the funeral have been good so far. We are uncomfortable though, with the protocol programme for the viewing of the body, when President Mahama was made to stand and wait for his deputy, before entering the Banquet Hall.
We would like to believe that under the scheme of things involving the Presidency, it is the Vice-President who normally arrives to wait on the President, and not vice-versa. Yesterday, state protocol got it all wrong. We hope and pray that the slip would not be replicated tomorrow or any other time. So far, it has been so very good!
Having made this observation, The Chronicle is happy so far, with the arrangement for the final journey of our Head of State.