By Margaret Jackson
Now praise we great and famous men,
The fathers named in story;
And praise the Lord, Who now as then
Reveals in man His glory. (MHB 896)
The weather in Accra on Tuesday spoke volumes. The day started with the sun coming up but just at the stroke of 9 am the weather suddenly became very dull and seemed like it was going to rain. But the rains never came. By mid-day, the whole atmosphere in Accra and its environ sounded like something was not right. But majority of Ghanaians in Accra could not figure out what was amiss.
Then the rumour mill began that President John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana has passed away. The rumour gained a wider currency with my phones ringing uncontrollably with some friends who have heard the rumour trying to either inform me about it or asking if I have heard of it.
But who am I to confirm the passing of this great man who also happens to be one of my heroes and the President of the Republic of Ghana and the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces if even I am privy to the information about his passing when the official announcement had not yet been made.
Then around 4 pm the breaking news came that President Mills who recently returned home after a medical check-up in the United States and was in fact due to travel to Nigeria on Tuesday on a one-day working visit and was expected to engage in some bilateral deliberations with his Nigerian counterpart, President Goodluck Jonathan, has indeed passed away at the 37 Military Hospital whilst receiving medical attention after suddenly being taken ill around noon on Tuesday July 24.
This is the most heartbreaking news to Ghanaians especially to the members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of which President Mills is the leader. The death of President Mills suddenly changes the political dynamics of Ghana which is due to hold both the presidential and parliamentary elections in December 7, 2012.
This is the first time since Ghana gained independence in 1957 has its president ever died in office. The death of President Mills throws so many things into play but it would be premature at this time to put your hands on anything concrete.
Ghana has indeed lost a great leader who is seen as somebody who did not enter politics to make money. In fact it is on record that President Mills is the first president in Ghana to forgo per diem when he travels outside the confines of his place of abode.
President Mills who just celebrated his 58th birthday on Saturday July 21, by donating some items to some blind students was fondly referred to as “Asomdwehene” by Ghanaians due to his character trait which hinges on peace.
Ghana has indeed lost one of its most illustrious leaders in the person of President Mills who taught as a law professor for close to 30 years at the University of Ghana, Legon and is credited for teaching about 70 percent of the multiple lawyers operating in both the public and private sectors of the country.
Many NDC faithful who have been crying uncontrollably in all the 10 regions of the country when the news broke out cannot believe that President Mills is indeed no more. Many hearts are indeed broken and many Ghanaians cannot fathom that President Mills who have been rumoured multiple times to have kicked the bucket has finally been called home by His Maker.
In order not to create any leadership vacuum, the Speaker of Parliament, Mrs. Joyce Bamfo, immediately summoned Parliament into session and the Vice President, John Dramani Mahama was sworn in by the Chief Justice, Mrs. Georgina Theodora Wood as the new President of the Republic of Ghana as stipulated by the country’s Constitution. President Mahama was sworn in at exactly 8:06 pm after taking in the oath of office administered by Mrs. Wood.
In a short address President Mahama who was visibly shaken by the death of ex-President Mills, stated that in honour of ex-President Mills declared one week of mourning and ordered all flags to fly at half mask for one week.
President Mahama announced that ex-President Mills was suddenly taken ill and was rushed to the 37 Military Hospital where he passed away peacefully at exactly 2:15 pm. He expressed the country’s deepest condolences to the family of ex-President Mills especially to the wife, Mrs. Naadu Mills.