President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Friday joined scores of Ghanaians to bid farewell to Ghana’s iconic illustrious elder Statesman, Joseph Henry Mensah, who died on July 12, 2018.
In a glowing tribute at a solemn burial service at the Accra International Conference Centre in Accra, the President described the late economist and astute politician, as “one of the greatest servants of the Ghanaian people”.
“Modest in his living, disdainful of material things, his passion was for the public weal, the public good, the public interest, ‘res publica’, the public matter,” the President said, in remembrance of the astute politician.
President Akufo-Addo recalled his association with the late J.H. Mensah as a young lawyer in the Second Republic, when he defended him in court on a charge of sedition against the military government in 1975, at which he was eventually acquitted and freed.
After that episode, the President said J.H. Mensah became his mentor, adding that, “I enjoyed his company enormously, the brilliant intellect, the impish sense of humor, the urbane, civilized personality, and, above all, the deep love of the Ghanaian people and their history, and the dogged faith in their capacity to build a progressive civilization, the equal of any on the face of the planet.”
He lauded J.H’s profound attachment to democratic values and his concept of development in freedom, which he said helped him (President) confirm his conviction that with strong democratic institutions, Ghana’s rapid development was possible.
President Akufo-Addo noted that, whilst J.H. Mensah’s political career was chequered, one of the most edifying was the great verve and panache with which he led the Minority in the Second Parliament of the Fourth Republic.
He recalled that with his adept, combative, eloquent, resilient, and an unshakable love of the Parliamentary institution, J.H “set a standard of engagement as a minority leader that will be difficult to replicate”.
“It was a pleasure and privilege to have been part of the small band of 61 NPP Members of Parliament, who acknowledged him as our undisputed leader,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo extolled J.H Mensah’s role as a senior Minister and the invaluable contribution he brought to bear on the administration of the erstwhile government of John Agyekum Kufuor.
He said President Kufuor and members of his cabinet benefitted immensely from his experience, far-sighted, visionary and intellectual leadership, which helped address difficult matters at that time.
The President made reference to J.H. Mensah’s thoughtful observation a decade ago, where he pointed out the need to employ the infrastructure of Ghana’s schools, which lay dormant for nearly half of the year.
Justifiably, the president noted that J.H. Mensah, had suggested the double-track school system, which the country was about to experience, saying, “that was the measure of the man, insightful and perceptive.”
He bade him eternal rest in the bosom of the Almighty. “God bless, most marvellous of men, and thank you for everything”, the President said.
The burial service was attended by the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Speaker of Parliament Prof. Mike Aaron Ocquaye, former President's Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama, Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Opare, and the Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Freddie Blay.
Others were the Service Commanders, the leadership of both sides of Parliament, as well as legislators, Ministers of state, Senior members of the NPP and other political parties, members of government, the Judiciary, the Diplomatic Corps, traditional and religious leaders, amongst a host of others.
The Late J.H Mensah, who was given a full state burial, was later interred at the new military cemetery in Burma camp, with bugles sounding and canons booming at the background.
Many were those who witnessed the final departure of the astute civil servant, international public official, Member of Parliament, Minister of Finance and Senior Minister. He was 89 years.