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Opinions Mon, 11 Nov 2013

Tribute to Mr. Harry Sawyerr

Mr Harry Sawyerr, one time Minister of Transport & Communications passed away on Thursday November 7, 2013 at the ripped age of 87 years. For those of us who were growing up the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, he’s perhaps best remembered for introducing the TATA buses into the Ghanaian transportation system. This noble gesture was greeted with much appreciation by the ordinary citizens due to the fact that it helped to reduce the normal transportation hustle. The Limann government was in power for just over 27 months but such was the impact of Mr Harry Sawyerr’s contribution to nation building. With all his sacrifices, he had to spend about 3 months in jail after the overthrow of the Limann government in December 31, 1981. He was released from jail when he was found to be of no blemish. He continued to serve the nation in different capacities in the new government. Such is the persona of Mr Harry Sawyerr.

It is very rare to find such noblemen of character who have the nation’s development at heart because they are also prepared to go every length to make their contributions count. For example, part of the citation accompanying his recognition by President J. E. A. Mills in 2011 with the highest honour of state, Companion of the Order of the Volta, indicated that “as Minister of Transport and Communications he would be remembered for introducing into Ghana TATA buses for public transportation, and procuring at his own expense the first conveyor belt for the Kotoka International Airport”. This is coming at such a time when most government officials are found to lack the passion for nation-building.

It is also important to note that he served as the Minister of Education between 1993 and 1997 and during that period, he reformed the ministry and the Ghana Education Service to a great extent. For example, lead the Ministry to set up the framework for the establishment of the FCUBE programme as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and also established the Best Teacher Awards Scheme to recognise and encourage teachers.

The contributions of Mr Sawyerr make him one of the best ever Cabinet Ministers Ghana has had in our nationhood. If Ghana had just 10 of his kind, the country would have experienced a tremendous turnaround for the better.

I propose that we establish the Harry Sawyerr Centre for Leadership and Nation Building in his honour to educate government officials about the principles of nation building and selflessness. It is high time such great and selfless individuals are given their due recognition to encourage others that the nation rewards selfless and valuable services.

Mr Harry Sawyerr, we were honoured to have benefited from your selfless services and we endeavour to be of good service to dear our nation (Ghana). Now praise we great and famous men! May his Soul Rest in Peace!

Columnist: Otabil, Kofi