Let’s use Mills’ demise to unite - Prof Ahwoi
Prof Kwamena Ahwoi, a governance expert, has asked Ghanaians to let the death of the late President John Evans Atta Mills unite the nation.
“His death is too recent; the wounds are too fresh, and the pain is still too unbearable. Besides, the country needs to unite. Let Ghana use the death of President Mills to unite us,” Prof Ahwoi said in Accra when he delivered the first anniversary commemorative lecture in honour of the late President Mills.
President Mills died at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra on July 24, 2012 at 1415 hours, three days after marking his 68th birthday.
The lecture was part of activities planned by the Government of Ghana on the first anniversary of his death.
Delivered at the Accra International Conference Centre, the lecture touched on the life of the late Ghanaian leader as a religious man, sportsman, a lawyer, an intellectual, tax expert and internationalist.
Tracing his association with the late President, Prof Ahwoi said during his student days at University of Ghana in 1975, he (Ahwoi) carried with him into an examination hall, four chilled bottles of beer, when at the time the late President was the invigilator. He said in a friendly manner, the late President allowed him to take two bottles of the four.
“I have told this story to illustrate one trait about Professor Mills. He was patient to the fault. But his patience often yielded positive outcomes as it did in my case. If it had been some other lecturer that could have been the end of my University career,” Prof Ahwoi said.
Prof Ahwoi recalled another encounter with the late president in 1996, when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was searching for a person of impeccable character from either the business community or academia to partner with then President Jerry John Rawlings to contest the 1996 elections.
“A search party had been constituted for this purpose after listening to the Minister for Education, Harry Sawyerr, extol the virtues of Professor Mills, then the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, at a Cabinet meeting, and the loss the country was going to suffer as a result of his failed bid to be appointed Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana. It was decided that he was the kind of person we were looking for as the NDC’s Vice Presidential candidate. Since President Rawlings knew I had a relationship with the Professor, he delegated me to see Professor Mills and try to convince him to accept the position,” Prof Ahwoi said.
“When the late Professor Mills finally accepted the offer, he declared that it was the will of God, saw his call as divine, and immersed himself into the 1996 Presidential campaign with zeal, vigour as total commitment as if he were on a divine mission”, Prof Ahwoi said.
He observed that the late President Mills, who was only ‘third time lucky’ in his bid to become President of Ghana, was convinced that there was a mystical force of God driving his destiny.
Prof Ahwoi said the late President Mills considered Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, as his political mentor, and Nkrumah never started any function without calling on God to guide him.
“As a family man, his wife Naadu became his friend, companion and confidante. He was devoted to his son Kofi. His siblings and his extended family were a big part of his life.
The lecture threw the searchlight on the late president as an internationalist, who believed in the ECOWAS regional integration agenda, and was seen as an ardent Nkrumahist dedicated to the cause of African continental unity, Pan Africanism and the concept of the African personality.
Prof Ahwoi said the late President Mills was also consulted extensively by world leaders, who valued his counsel, and this was epitomized by the selection of Ghana by US President Barack Obama as the African country in which to make his policy statement that African needs strong institutions rather than strong men.
Additionally, Queen Elizabeth of England specially invited the late President Mills to pay a state visit to the UK.
Prof Ahwoi drew the attention of President John Mahama to take up the challenge to have Ghana host the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting.
He referred to tributes that poured in from the four corners of the world as an attestation to the international nature of the late President Mills.
The late President Mills, according to the lecturer, was described as “a president we could trust”, and made significant contributions to education by establishing two public universities at Ho and Sunyani - promised made during the 2008 campaign, constructing School of Fisheries at Anomabu, giving out free uniforms to school children and removing “schools under trees’.
Other contributions, he added, were in oil and gas, agriculture infrastructure and governance.
Expressing his conviction that “his commitment to building a “Better Ghana” was genuine, Prof Ahwoi said the agenda to build a “Better Ghana” required the NDC to lead the country to work hard to produce wealth, to uphold the truth, abhor corruption and distribute the benefits of hard work equitably.