President John Agyekum Kufuor has promised to fulfill the wish of the 90-year-old mother of the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Madam Yaa Atiapa, as long as God permits.
Madam Atiapa had requested the President on one of his trips to Agogo to assist her son Baah-Wiredu to bury her when she dies. Unfortunately, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the former Finance and Economic Planning Minister, did not live to fulfill the wish of his mother, leaving the burial of his beloved mother on the shoulders of the President.
“With God's help, I promise that I shall discharge that responsibility,” President Kufuor pledged in a tribute read on his behalf to thousands of mourners who had gathered at the forecourt of the State House in Accra for the burial service of the late Baah-Wiredu.
The late Finance Minister who died at age 56 has been lauded for achieving many feats in his short life but “if he would have any anxiety about any incomplete business, it would probably be about his aged mother.”
The deceased was the first minister to be appointed by President Kufuor shortly after the latter took office as Ghana's President. Hon Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu was appointed as the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in 2001 and then sent to the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, from where he became Finance Minister, a portfolio he held until his untimely death.
“I had no hesitation and he did not let me down… he was exemplary,” said the President.
“He was, of course, very much concerned with development as we all are; but maybe because of his total grounding in and love of figures, he was not one to make plans in the air.”
When it came to Ghana, “Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu's dreams and aspirations were particularly spectacular, long range, but always supported by figures.”
In a sermon, Rt. Rev. Abraham Tagoe, the Methodist Bishop of Accra said Baah-Wiredu never let the entire country down because he served all and sundry to the best of his ability, stressing, if all Ministers would serve as him, Ghana would be a prosperous country.
“Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu worked tirelessly and fought against poverty and diseases, laziness, ignorance, arrogance, pride, dishonesty, and everything that hinders development.”
According to Bishop Tagoe, in spite of the late minister's heavy schedule he leaned on Christ, and therefore called for all and sundry to be disciplined and prayerful to enable them have a life of righteousness and holiness.
Using the occasion to advise Ghanaians to conduct themselves well during the forthcoming elections, Bishop Tagoe challenged Ghanaians to be disciplined.
“Let us not just listen and vote but think through the issues and vote wisely.”
Without doubt, the Ashanti Akyem township of Agogo will be thrown into a state of mourning as the man whose death shocked Ghanaians is laid to rest tomorrow.
Mr. Baah-Wiredu who died in a South African hospital on September 24 was liked by all - journalists, ordinary Ghanaians and members of the opposition.
He was an affable and easygoing person who never looked down on people.
Even in death Mr. Baah-Wiredu was acknowledged for his great works as board of governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conferred on him the best finance minister in Africa at their meeting in Washington D.C.
Last year, the hardworking minister ensured that the country chalked some successes such as the country attaining a growth rate of 6.3 percent with prudent and fiscal policies.
This resulted in him being given the Top Reforming African Country award by the World Bank in London last year for reforming the economy and business environment.
In his first portfolio at the Local Government Ministry he saw to the establishment of the decentralization process, expected to facilitate development in the districts.
His strength lay in the rallying of people around him, and this innovation made his work easier since everyone contributed to make work at the ministry smooth. He exhibited this attitude also in supporting agencies such as the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) and the Value Added Tax (VAT) Service where revenue generation improved immensely.
He was part of the team that ensured that domestic revenue increased from GH¢3million in 2001 to GH¢16 million in 2008.
The financial icon as some people describe him was also a secret special adviser to Yaw Osafo-Maafo, first Minister of Finance in President John Agyekum Kufuor's administration.
By Emelia Ennin Abbey, Sheilla Sackey, Awudu Mahama & Charles Nixon Yeboah