Feature Article of Friday, 24 August 2012
Columnist: Akuaku, Bennett
He was a Professor of Law, a tax expert and a President who followed signs and wonders very religiously, and he was a Christian who believed very much in modern day prophets.
He ended up being given the name ‘Asomdwehene’ or Prince of Peace’ in his lifetime, and today, even after his death, the late John Evans Atta Mills is being tagged a ‘Saint’ largely by his admirers.
The rest is now history, but most intriguing is the kind of tributes that poured in at his funeral.
For instance, Hon. David Lamptey, a former Member of Parliament for the Korley Klottey Constituency described him as an ‘angel who was without corruption’. “President Mills in his body person as I knew, was too good to be insulted, was too honest to be castigated… The people of this country have lost a great man and I tell you, they will live to regret it and I tell you frankly that they will live to regret.”
Kwame Pianim, an economist, said: ‘Mills was sent to teach Ghanaians to draw back from the brink. God wanted to use him as a lamb in the midst of wolfs in politics’.
Togbe Afede XIV, Agbogbomefia of Asogli Traditional Area and President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, said: ‘His death should be a spark of national consciousness for peace’, just to mention a few.
Then just around that time, a letter was released from his office in which he allegedly assured that he was in the bosom of the Lord, and that all would be well with Ghana as a nation.
Like Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Gandhi, etc. who assured their disciples of peace and directed them to pray through them for spiritual upliftment, Professor Mills, according to his ‘first epistle’ said he too would always be with us all.
Hear him in what was labeled ‘Everlasting Message’
“I came to serve; I have finished my time here on earth and have moved on to everlasting rest and celestial duties with my heavenly father. As you leaf through these pages of my life’s story, I pray to God that it touches you in many positive ways. Weep not, for I am not dead”.
“I am alive and awake in the Lord. Ghana will not die, Ghana will live to declare the works of the Lord. As I rest in perfect peace in the celestial realms with my maker, I pledge to always uphold and defend the good name of Ghana. Remember the Lord in all your ways, and he will protect you.”
“Stay well my brothers and sisters, for I will always be with you”.
As if the ‘Asomdwehene’ title was bestowed on him was not enough, some of his ministers claimed they had written letters to him, with some already saying they had received replies from him. The list of attributes to the late president could go on and on.
But coming to think of it in all sincerity was the late president as humane, humble and faultless as we are being made to believe? This is where I beg to differ.
I remember how exactly one year before his death (Monday, July 25, 2011) the then President was virtually hailed as the Christ Incarnate when it was reported that his physical presence at some flooded areas in Akyem Oda and Kade in the Eastern Region allegedly caused the entire waters in the two districts to instantaneously dry up.
He was given all the publicity in the world for that alleged miraculous exploit by the media, and strangely enough, the humble leader as he is now being painted, NEVER denied that ‘Jamal Testimony’ till his death one year later.
Secondly, barely one month after that incident (August 18, 2011), the professor again played ‘god’ when he announced before a large church congregation of the 3rd General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EP) in Ho that he would hand over power as president in 2017.
At the time many Ghanaians wondered where the hell the nation and its people were being driven to, especially in the light of Mills’ earlier utterances to the effect that God was the President of Ghana and that the nation had only one president, with him(Mills) being that president.
In the heat of those confusing statements, the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) asked him to ‘rethink’ his utterances, with some of its members bluntly calling him a one-term President. But flesh and blood as we all are little did anyone suspect that the one who ‘giveth and taketh life’ had already decided it was a ‘half-term’ presidency for him.
To be a bit more robust with my presentation and to recall past events further, is it not also true that had he not won the 2008 elections he would have made the country uninhabitable by turning Ghana into a Kenya? As a journalist I have records of him threatening he would do just that. At least I heard him say that at the IPS (Institute of Professional Studies) and later at Legon.
And as a manifestation of that threat and intention was he not remotely at the helm of the virtual invasion of the Electoral Commission premises by NDC hoodlums to arm-twist the EC to declare results that were then being collated?
What about the fact that his name could go down in history books as having supervised the most insolent and insulting cabinet team ever in Africa?
I can’t agree with Sekou Nkrumah any better, when he said the late president was a good man, but never a great leader.
Probably Sekou must have been told of how fanatics did a similar disservice to his father when they called him ‘Osagyefo’ and forced kids to sing ‘Nkrumah Never Dies’ every morning at school assemblies across the country.
After his father’s death, a whole Ideological Institute (Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute) was dedicated to his name at Winneba where people graduated and majored in what was called ‘Nkrumaism’. But in spite of all these, and the fact that his followers visited his grave side annually, his most priced legacy on earth, the Convention People’s Party (CPP), is currently the most fragmented and abysmal political party in the country. Today it is ‘Asomdwehene’.
Have we so soon forgotten how Emperor Haile Selassie was labeled JAH and was worshiped as the creator of Heaven and Earth, but after his death, his native Ethiopia witnessed one of the worst droughts in human history?
I am not a doomsayer, but is it not funny that with Kwesi Pratt and others already referring to him as a ‘Saint’, one will not be surprised if in the near future former President Mills’ grave site is turned into a ‘Shrine’ for annual pilgrimages?
That’s their cup of tea anyway, but I dare say that the humility tags being lavished on him have a lot of limitations, which can be summarized as being technically true but realistically false.
Yes he was a good man on earth, but he is far from being described as ‘a new plane of consciousness’.
Finally, shifting blame to political opponents by alleging that they were heartless and unsympathetic to the then ailing president is a politically disadvantageous move.
After all, who doesn’t know that in the final days of the former president as he was gradually losing the battle with cancer and it was indicative that his days were getting numbered, his own vice-president left him to his fate and was garnering personal attention by junketing in the US launching his so-called book on coup d’état?
If at all there is anyone to blame, charge or prosecute in this matter for dereliction of duty, that person should be his Chief of Staff, whose sole duty is to provide for the comfort and well-being of the president in the running of the country.
He saw the necessity to source for funds for a Presidential Plane with entertainment facilities, saw the need to rehabilitate the Presidential Lounge, had all the time and energy to argue back and forth over Presidential Palace controversy, but did not have the wisdom to create a Presidential Ward at one of the leading hospitals for any eventuality. Sadly, after the inevitable had happened, he quickly saw the wisdom in creating a Presidential Cemetery. How reckless can some people be?
It’s very sad to lose a sitting president in such a manner, but while no one wants to demonize him (at least he is human) it is equally not proper to castigate those who do not want to idolize him.
Bennett Akuaku (Negative Realities)
NB: The writer, a media analyst based in Chicago (USA,) is a member of Media Managers Club, a global association of reputable editors and newspaper managers, and can be reached via [email protected]