29.05.2008 Feature Article

Mills' Award - An Opinion

Mills' Award - An Opinion
29.05.2008 LISTEN

The ongoing brouhaha on President John Agyekum Kufuor's decision to nominate Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Flag Bearer of National Democratic Congress (NDC), for the highest national award of "Companion of the Star of Ghana 2008" is typical.

Ghanaians like to express their views openly and that is good for the nurturing of the fledgling democracy.

The Ghana News Agency on Friday May 23, 2008 reported: "President John Agyekum Kufuor on Friday nominated Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Former Vice President and Flag Bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for the highest National Award - Companion of the Star of Ghana for the year 2008.

"A statement signed by Mr Andrew Awuni, Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman, said four other prominent Ghanaian personalities were also nominated for the same category of awards.

"They are Alhaji Aliu Mahama, Vice President; Nayiri Naa Bohugu Mahami Shirigu, Paramount Chief of Mamprugu Traditional Area; the Yegbun Wura Bawa Doshie, Paramount Chief of Gonja Traditional Area and the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

"This year's National Awards ceremony is scheduled for July 3, as part of activities to mark the Republic Day.

"The statement said 158 persons would be given various national awards.

"Five of them for the Order of Star of Ghana (Companion Division); 50 for Order of the Volta (Companion Division); 38 for Order of the Volta (Officer Division); 16 for Order of the Volta (Member) and 49 for Grand medal."

On Saturday May 24, 2008 the GNA again reported: "The Office of the President announced on Saturday that, the full list of this year's National Awards is still in preparation and a number of Ghanaians, who have contributed to the growth and development of the country, including high personalities in the previous and current governments are being considered.

"A statement issued by the Office of the President and signed by Mr Kwadwo O. Mpiani, Chief of Staff and Minister of Presidential Affairs, said when the list is finalized and it receives the assent of the President, the public would be informed accordingly."

These statements are from the citadel of political power of Ghana. One dare say that all other government functionaries are subservient to these two major sources. In fact they must be told the truth that they hold their political positions at the leisure of these two sources. Sometimes it is good to tell people such things in the face to get them to fall in line.

This is one instance that this Writer, who sees himself as a traditionalist, has gone against the normal Ashanti tradition of not referring people to their ancestry in the negative sense. One comes across expressions like; "ye nnkyere obi ase" in a typical Asante court.

This Writer has had the occasion to state elsewhere that if all Ghanaians pursued the national interest genuinely, there would be little room for disagreement and that conflicts come about when group or personal interest is projected above the national interest.

The report about the nomination of Prof Mills for the award came from the Presidency and it was very clear.

Our Elders say: "Brekensoo besi ni tiri ase no, na efri dee asaase aka akyere no;" literally put "If the palm frond, which normally points upwards turns to point downwards, then it means that the earth had told it something".

It, therefore, stands to reason that before the Presidency decided to honour Prof Mills it had done its homework, which included anticipating the reactions of some people to the nomination.

The Presidency might have its own reasons for nominating Prof Mills, which this Writer is not privy to, but he knows a few things about Prof Mills that makes him to think that the Presidency has made the right decision.

The first reason is that Prof Mills commands the support of more than three million Ghanaians as the figures of the two previous Presidential Elections indicate. He could have used this support base to create confusion in this country but he did not do that.

For those who do not know, let them know from now on that Professor Mills is a true statesman. He stood up against intense pressure from the Hawks within his Party to reject the results of Election 2000 because they insisted that the Elections were rigged in the Ashanti Region.

The Hawks cited the figures from Bantama Constituency, which when computed using the number of votes cast and the number of polling stations and the time used for voting indicated that one person voted every 30 seconds, which of course was impossible.

But Prof. Mills decided to accept the results because he said he would not in the pursuit of his political ambition do anything that would lead to the spilling of the blood of any Ghanaian. Indeed, he was under intense pressure not to accept the result.

Prof. Mills was very resolute and called the GNA to come for a statement in which he conceded defeat and congratulated the then Candidate John Agyekum Kufuor.

This Writer was the Editor on duty and crafted the most important story ever written since Ghana attained independence with one of the Agency's Correspondents at the Presidency.

The GNA reported: "Accra, Dec 30, GNA - Vice President John Evans Atta Mills, candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Friday evening conceded defeat to Mr John Agyekum Kufuor and congratulated him on his victory in last Thursday's Presidential Election runoff.

"'I would like on behalf of the NDC and its millions of supporters, to congratulate Mr. Kufuor most warmly for his electoral victory. We wish him and the NPP well, both in the Executive and in the Legislature,' Prof. Mills said in a statement to the Ghana News Agency (GNA).

"He said 'as an outgoing government, we pledge to make his transition into office as smooth as possible.'

"Prof. Mills expressed his gratitude to Ghanaians for helping to make the December 7 and 28 elections as free and fair as possible.

"He said irrespective of reports and evidence of violence, intimidation, harassment and other irregularities, the elections were generally free, fair and transparent.

"'We also wish to salute the Electoral Commission and its staff, political parties and their polling agents, the Mass Media, law enforcement agencies, our development partners and local and foreign electoral observers for the various roles they played in the conduct of these elections.'

"Professor Mills thanked members and supporters of the NDC for their faith and loyalty and urged them to maintain their confidence in the Party as it goes through a period of restructuring and rebirth to become a strong opposition and to prepare to win the elections in 2004.

"'By our collective conduct, Ghana's constitutional democracy has been further deepened and our nation's name has been recorded once again, in the annals of African history as a model for constitutional democracy.'

"He said based on projections after the results of 194 constituencies have been declared he recognises that the people of Ghana have decided to elect Mr Kufuor as the next President.

"Vice President Mills urged the leadership of the NPP to prevail upon their members who are allowing their electoral victory to spill over into molestation of NDC supporters and their families to stop the aggression.

"'The leadership and membership of the NPP may wish to recall that when the NDC won the 1992 and 1996 elections, no NPP supporters were molested anywhere in the country.

"'We call on them as members of an in-coming government to begin to show the high sense of responsibility required of a government.'

"Prof. Mills appealed to Ghanaians to remain calm and supportive of the historic transition.

"Mr Kufuor had taken an unassailable lead by polling 57.28 per cent of the votes as against 42.72 per cent received by Vice President Mills.

"The runoff was occasioned by the failure of any of the seven candidates in the December 7 Elections to obtain the required 50 per cent plus one vote stipulated by the Constitution.

"Professor Mills said he had been trying all evening to call Mr Kufuor on phone to congratulate him without success."

When the GNA called President Kufuor to inform him that Prof. Mills had conceded defeat all the NPP gurus, who were with him, broke into jubilation. They happened to be having a caucus meeting.

The Electoral Commissioner, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan in announcing the result of Election 2000 later in the day, said even though he had not received all the results, he was going ahead to declare the winner because according to GNA, Prof Mills had conceded defeat.

True to his pledge, Prof Mills got his team together to hand over power to NPP peacefully.

This is the stuff that Prof Mills is made of. Who can say that this man does not deserve the highest honour of the land?