Feature Article of Monday, 13 August 2012
Columnist: Stephen Darko
After his befitting burial at the exquisite bird sanctuary next to the seat of government, the 17th Century Fort Christianborg, but now referred to as Osu Castle, late President John Evans Atta Mills fond memories continue to prick the minds of many Ghanaians.
After serving just three-and-half-year of his four-year mandate, his sudden departure without doubt, was roundly seen as a litmus test to our nascent democracy as a nation. But thankfully a chunk number of the populace saw wisdom in uniting in grief, despite our political and ethnic coloring.
Though he has largely been praised and carried shoulder-high for his generosity, humility and his workhorse habit after his departure—his ardent critics often questioned his management style when he was in office.
Arguably, the late president will go down in the country’s history as the most vilified and lampooned head of state even though former leaders, including Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor were also victims of unwarranted attacks.
He suffered myriad of harsh and unsubstantiated criticisms both within and outside his party, but his intense humility always made him chose to deflect such attacks on his persona in the most humorous manner one can ever think of at the slightest opportunity he had.
As a mortal like all humans, though he recorded some slips as head of state and opposition leader, he frequently did so well at reversing his negatives to gain thunderous adorations. It is an undeniable fact that the late professor of law accommodated several insults and unjustified criticisms, particularly from members of the largest opposition party (NPP).
The worst of it all, in my humble opinion, was when an apposition member (name withheld) labeled the president as a homosexual who was having sexual intercourse with one of his special advisers during a radio programme in Accra, but still ordered that the individual should be left alone. Oh what a democrat he was!
Indeed vindictiveness and acrimonious politicking were conspicuously missing from his priority list, despite the series of calls on him to react against unsavory comments against him and his family.
Most Ghanaians will bare witness to how some individuals were manhandled in this country, after going ballistic on sitting presidents. Your guess is as good as my!
It saddens my heart to repeat some of these unfound, fictitious and malicious allegations against the man I have personally branded in this article as the “Special One” in Ghana’s politics, especially in this mournful and momentous occasion, but for clarity sake I need to refresh the memories of Ghanaians.
The aforementioned attack on the personality of a man who rendered over 30 years of dedicated service to the nation in diverse ways—speedily reminds me of how those individuals would have been dealt with during the period of some regimes.
For the sake of the bereaved family and the respect for the dead, I will decline from reminding Ghanaians some of the unwarranted insults that were heaped at this illustrious son of ours.
The fallen leader survived an unprecedented contest from his own political party (National Democratic Congress) in 2011, over who should be handed the leadership mantle in representing the party in the impending general elections.
The FONKAR/ GAME will forever be remembered, as it went down as the first time a section of a ruling party took serious issues with its leader and president.
The hardliners in the party as it was seen at the time, sponsored and worked tirelessly to support no less a person than wife of the party’s founder and former President Jerry John Rawlings— someone who is highly regarded as the populous politician in the country’s history.
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings with the aid of some disgruntled followers of the party indeed gave the good-old professor a hectic ran for his money.
And during the period lots of rumors spread like wildfire, but again relied heavily on his sharp intelligence and modesty, to sail through and eventually romped home with an astonishing 93 per cent as against 3 per cent of the total valid votes cast at the party’s national delegates’ congress, which was held in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region.
He indeed drubbed the former first lady to win an accolade of having won an intra-party contest with the biggest margin ever in the country and the sub-region.
And that impressive victory booked for him another fierce contest with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate, Nana Akufo Addo— the same candidate he beat with just 40,000 votes to be sworn in as president in 2008.
President Mills first stormed the political arena in 1996 when former President Jerry John Rawlings named him as his running mate to the surprise of party hardcore followers and moved on to become vice president.
He suffered two consecutive electoral defeats, but won in 2008. He is the first person to become a vice president and president in separate elections.
President Mills surfaced three times to debunk rumors that he had died.
He died on July 24 at 37 Military Hospital, after being taken ill. His sudden demise leaves a lingering question on the limps of many Ghana, which is, when the nation is going to get an individual with his an unblemished record to engage in politics. “Demerafa Due”, Professor John Evans Atta Mills. Again is Prez Mills the best democrat Ghana has ever produced?