Feature Article of Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Columnist: Mohammed, Chief Obosu
Our Late President Prof John Evans Atta-Mills has reached the end of his life; the liberated spirit has winged its flight back to the unknown world, the dust has returned to the earth as it was and the spirit unto God who gave it. Whiles we mourn the untimely departure of our President; let us not forget that, we too are mortals, which our bodies not strong and vigorous will find itself in the darkness of the grave that our spirits like his, will return to God who brought it into existence. Life is so uncertain and all our earthly pursuit is in vain.
Though, we all may one day visit the unknown land where our forefathers belong, but Prof Atta-Mills’ demise struck us (Ghanaians) with an iron fist and saddened our soul, especially when he together with his handlers made us believe, he was as fit as a fiddle for the present and future, and indeed was made to jog on the tarmac to prove people wrong.
This history is unprecedented; never have we lost a sitting President who was at the verge of completing his tenure, hence the national grief and tribute by all shades of persons across the globe.
I do have great respect for our late leader – the Late President Prof John Evans Atta-Mills. In fact, it will be un-Ghanaian for anyone to denigrate or speak evil about the dead. We are constantly reminded by our customs and traditions to at all material times speak well of the dead, however, in doing so, we must not expose our hypocrisy and bias, but place things in their right perspective.
Unfortunately, whiles we mourn or celebrate the life of our departed leader, some have decided to capitalize on his demise not only to campaign or play with the emotions of the populace, but to re-write our history solely for political expediency. Indeed, such dishonesty must not be encouraged as it will do much harm than good.
I have no doubt in my mind that our late President, Prof. J.E.A Mills was a good man and had good personal traits worthy of emulation, but the level of exaggeration of his persona, to make him look like a saint or an extraordinary human being is most unnecessary to say the least- it serves no purpose, it distorts history and serves the Late President’s soul no good.
His pseudo elevation to the 'King of Peace', a position reserved by Christians to Jesus Christ is sacrilegious, un-meritorious and smacks of sheer hypocrisy. Can someone tell me a single peace agreement he brokered before his untimely death? In my view, the Late President is akin to Marcus Brutus in Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar'- He was neither good nor evil in my humble opinion.
Though Brutus may have been a good man with good intentions for his people and country; he was a flawed human personality and allowed himself to be used by evil forces to perpetrate crime against the Romans, which was unjustifiable. At the end, he had to commit suicide for fear of being captured at the battle of Philippi. That was the fate of the ‘noblest man’ among the conspirators so described by Mark Antony (The man who turned the people against Brutus by his ‘Friends, Romans, My countrymen speech during the funeral of Julius Caesar) when he allowed himself to be surrounded by traitors who were selfish, power hungry, overly ambitious and led him into an abyss.
Our late President may have been a man of integrity, sincerity, honesty and had good intentions for the people of Ghana, but did he live up to expectation? Was he really the ‘King of Peace’ as we are being made to believe? A simple NO is the answer. This is not rocket science or do one need any rigorous research to make such a conclusion.
May be I am on a different planet and I ought to be educated or may be not. Was there any enraging war or any civil unrest in Ghana prior to our late President ascending to the high office as the number one Gentleman of the land? So what peace at all did he broker? Is it not true that under his tenure, the country became more polarized especially on ethnic grounds?
The Late President, Prof Atta Mills was bequeathed with a country with a stable economy, political stability, good governance and excellent democratic credentials such that Ghana qualified for Millennium Account funding on that basis, a country which President Obama choose to pay his first visit in Africa south of the Sahara precisely for those reasons, a country on economic ascendency and a country on the top half of happy to live countries.
To latch him with a tag from antiquity must command a certain exemplary and extraordinary attainments. We must pose ourselves some questions if we are to conclude that the Late President is indeed the King of Peace. Was he a charismatic and epoch-making personality who left an imprint not only in the affairs of our country but also in international affairs? Did he belong to that noble galaxy of great leaders who wielded extraordinary initiative in brokerage of peace such as Henry Kissinger, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan? By virtue of being the President, was he able to make a significant contribution to the practice of peace nationally and in inter-national relations. Did he enjoy a well-deserved prestige and profound respect on the international scene for his peace efforts across the country and as an international leader? Will he come close to making the shortlist for a Nobel Peace prize?
Like so many leaders, Late President Atta-Mills was in the right place at the right time. Prof Mills did a lot of good things: boost trade up trade and focused on agriculture etc and I commend him for that. Although the end of his political career reeks of self-serving nepotism and corruption and lies after lies from his stable, the beginning is still remembered as promising.
He did not champion the cause of national peace, international peace and reduce ethnic tensions. He had platforms such as Ecowas, the Commonwealth, NAM and UN. Did he effectively use these platforms for promoting peace and tranquility? Indeed, was he not the same person who used the infamous ‘Dzi wo fie asem’ during the civil war that rocked neighboring Ivory Coast which saw thousands of men, women and children die in cold blood? This is a clear antithesis of our adage which states that ‘we are our brother’s keeper’. The strategy was to stand aloof and let them shed blood till there was a clear winner. Can such a leader be the ‘King of peace’?
He did not only fail to preserved the rich heritage of Ghana’s enormous contribution to peace within the West African sub-region and increase our commitment by making his own personal contribution to our enviable reputation. Under his stewardship Ghana’s voice was no longer heard with respect in various international organisations and forums. Just listen to the tame, bland speeches of Late president Atta Mills in the few international forums he was able to attend and you will be left in no doubt that he did not add anything new to peace on the world stage.
So where from the King of Peace label? On the national scene? On the national front, he did not demonstrate an abiding concern for the ethnic clashes in the country and put in place policies, procedures and strategies which automatically widen the area of peace and security in those areas of conflict. What has happened to Dagbon, to be precise Yendi? Were we not promised a lasting solution to the conflict? And what has become of it and the many other ethnic and communal conflicts that have plagued our country in recent times?
You will recall that in all of these conflicts, not even a single visit or word of inspiration to the people in those areas to calm their nerves was initiated by the President. Perhaps, he was advised by his handlers to keep mute and allow the conflicts to run their course and die on their own. Could this bring peace? How can inertia be a policy and yet he is being exalted for not taking proactive measures in conflict resolution?
Is it not interesting to note that under the leadership of the ‘King of Peace’, there have been unprecedented divisions from among his own ranks, his own political party, which has culminated in the formation of another political party? Did we not see the emergence of the NDP, which is backed by the Founder (J.J Rawlings) who is the founder of the National Democratic Congress (NDC)? Could this be peace? If this is peace, then what is turbulence?
We are all witness to the political violence that erupted during the bye-elections at Atiwa, Chereponi and Akwatia, which saw blatant abuse of power to which the response of the then President was that he was not a policeman or a prosecutor to deal with it.
Like many politicians he got a little power-hungry and did some negative stuff toward the end of his regime: he used government resources for campaigning for his re-election and became deeply involved in a plethora of what is now called judgment debt scandals.
It is however important that we decipher the truth from falsehood. President Mills did his best for Ghana, as to whether his best was good enough, we live that to posterity to judge. Indeed, he can be likened to Brutus in many ways; though he may have had good intentions, he allowed himself to be let down by people around him, and was made to believe all was well and rosy for the Ghanaian people. That exposes him as a flawed-human character and could have not been an extraordinary person or a saint. An excellent academician he was but his handling of the nation and his political leadership credentials could have been much better.
The late President, in my opinion, remains a symbol of humility in Ghana and will be remain so in our history. It will be an enormous task to tag him though as a King of Peace. That is fantasy and cannot be sustained without propaganda. Such an accolade, if it should hold, must come naturally from the entire Ghanaian populace but not orchestrated solely for electoral reasons.
On the whole, I will say the Late President was a fascinating man and was President in a fascinating time of our history, a time when make-belief becomes reality and this desperate attempt to tag him as “King of Peace” will be transient unless some of the issues raised here are dispassionately clarified. If that is done I will happily use that tag without any fear of contradiction myself.
Fare thee well, Prof. Till we meet again, when the trumpets are blown for us to account for our stewardship whiles on earth by the all Wise and all powerful Judge, Damri fa due!
Credit: Chief Obosu Mohammed