General News of Friday, 17 August 2012
A Deputy Minister for Information and Member of the Funeral Planning Committee, James Agyenim-Boateng, has discounted claims that Samuel Kofi Atta Mills, the only son of the late President John Evans Atta Mills, organized a private service for his father because he was sidelined during the state funeral held at the Independence Square.
Initial arrangements for the burial service for the late President Mills had Samuel Kofi Mills incorporated in the scheme of things, but his name was somehow crossed out from the programme unceremoniously and the youngman was not allowed to lay a wreath on his father’s grave or even read a tribute.
This is in spite of the fact that Samuel Mills was invited by the National Security apparatus a few days before the service from where he was moved to the State Protocol Department for a rehearsal about his roles during the elaborately laid-out funeral programme.
But not to be undone, on Saturday, August 11, Samuel Kofi Mills replicated some of the funeral procedures by organizing a ‘befitting’ funeral and laid a wreath for his late father.
A member of the Funeral Planning Committee and NDC Greater Accra Regional Chairman later explained in an interview on Okay FM’s Ade Akye Abia Morning Show, that Mills’ son was not allowed to read his tribute at the state funeral because they were far behind time and most of the dignitaries were visibly tired and hungry.
However, it seems his clarification did not go down well with Ghanaians, with some commentators flaking government for the unfair treatment meted out to the only known offspring of the late president.
Speaking to the issue on Peace FM’s “Kokrokoo” Morning Show, James Agyenim-Boateng opined that there is nothing wrong with the function held by the son of the late President. He disputed claims that Samuel Atta Mills held a private funeral because he was unceremoniously relegated to the background during the burial service held at the Independence Square.
According to him, Mills’ son only organized a small get together for friends which is mostly done by bereaved families when a loved one passes away.
The FPC member further clarified that Samuel Atta Mills was not allowed to read his tribute simply because they were running behind schedule, and going by the approach of the Military, punctuality and regard for time was of the essence.
“The funeral was a military one because every President is the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces and so following the demise of our president, the entire duration for his funeral was pegged at 1hr30. And you know the military, they are very punctual and had to go by the set time; everything was timed on paper…The programme delayed for over an hour and that was the only cause…At the end of the day, the programme was well organized… He (Samuel) didn’t perform his own funeral; nothing prevents one from also organizing a small get together and inviting friends. There is nothing wrong with it at all. What will one prefer, that the programme was successfully organized and it ended on time or that people would leave untimely because they are hungry, thirsty or were under the mercies of the weather with the sun scorching them?” the Deputy Minister rhetorically asked.
According to him, if the Funeral Committee really wanted to sideline Samuel Atta Mills by not allowing him to read his tribute, as some would want Ghanaians to believe, he would not have been included in the programme outline.
“People can have issues with it but at every point in time, Samuel Kofi Atta Mills was acknowledged and he was part of the service. If it was deliberate and we didn’t want him to read his tribute, why will his name be in the programme in the first place? But because we wanted him to play his role as the only son, that is why we printed and included his tribute…but as I said, it was because we were constrained by time…,” James Agyenim-Boateng said.