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Opinions of Monday, 30 July 2012

Columnist: Ayidan, Kojo

Who or what killed President Mills?

‘Mills die be die’ ‘Mills matter, you matter’

By Kojo Ayidan

It may be too early to write a piece like this. But given that at least one institution has asked “what killed Mills”, and former President Rawlings has also assigned reasons for the president’s demise, I think it is not too early to examine a number of possible factors that ended the life of our dear president.

As I write, I am thinking to myself – how many people would view this as just a piece by a completely apolitical Ghanaian with a heavy heart over the loss of the father of the nation. President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills may or may not have lived up to people’s expectation of his ‘father for all’ mantra, but there is no doubt that as president, he was the father of our dear nation Ghana until his death at 14:15hours on July 24, 2012, exactly 68 years three days after his birth.

And speaking of his age, people are already drawing a link between that and the time and place of his demise. He died 24th July, that is 24/7 at the 37 Military Hospital. The sum of 24, 7 and 37 is 68. I found that in numerology, the number 68 symbolizes “The Mercy of God.” I am still trying to figure out how that fits; but maybe that was what happened – God showed mercy to a suffering man under pressure from circumstances and from people he expected support from.

By virtue of his age, some Ghanaians think we should not make much of his death because dying at age 68 is okay in a country where average life expectancy for men is around 60 years (59.78years). Moreover, people think dwelling on it extensively would only hurt us some more, and probably give a certain group of Ghanaians the opportunity to batter him some more, even in death.

But President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills is not just an ordinary 68-year-old man from my home town Osu, who was minding his business in some corner. This 68-year-old man was the President of the Republic of Ghana, minding the national business. So all ‘die’ may be ‘die’ for that 68-year-old man from Osu; but Mills ‘die’ is more than just ‘die’. Remember George Orwell’s Animal Farm? – “All are equal, but some are more equal than some” and “four legs good, two legs bad.”

And speaking of battering, the late President went down in the history of the country as arguably the most battered sitting president ever, taking it from both inside and outside consistently from day one. He also chalked a number of firsts in his four-year less five months term. He was the first sitting president to have been contested for the flagbearership of his party for the second term, which was never meant to be; the first to have been challenged by a woman for the presidential slot of his party; the first to have done only one term in office; and the first to have died as a sitting president.

So who killed the president, or what killed the president – was it sinusitis or throat cancer – was it the greedy bastards or the spin-doctoring propagandists – was it the all-die-be-die crusaders or the judgement debt collectors – was it the in-house attack dogs or the dooms day prophets – was it those who contested his flagbearership or himself, who allegedly gave notice long ago that he wanted only one term – or was it just destiny or providence? It could as well be that all those factors conspired to land our dear president, the asomdwehene (peacemaker) in the bosom of his maker even before he could finish that one term he may have wished for.

THE KILLER FACTORS It could have been any of the factors above, a combination of some of them, or probably all of them that sent our president ahead of many of us to the land of the ancestors. It is not a secret that his health has been a big issue of public concern and discourse since he became president. News made rounds even before he was sworn into office that he had expressed interest in running for only one term because of his health. Indeed, prior to him becoming president, a number of public appearances, such as the IEA Presidential Debate showed all was not necessarily well with him. But his men consistently denied that he was not well, even until his demise.

At his swearing in into office as president, he missed a few lines, and that again brought up the issue of his health, and his men went at the critics again and denied. But the president has since then been reading his speeches from ‘gargantuanly’ enlarged fonts, and yet his ‘honorable’ men insisted he was fit as a fiddle and stronger than most of the people who thought otherwise. Indeed, the Director of Operations at the Castle, my friend and classmate, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye was on Metro TV Good Morning Ghana show telling the whole public that the president had been lifting weight every morning, and doing arm press even better than him, Nii Lante. Is that what we call propaganda? I am only asking o! Nii.

Eventually the late president had the opportunity to tell Ghanaians about the state of his health, at one of his encounters with senior journalists and editors at the Castle, and what did he say his doctors said was his sickness? The whole of Ghana heard him, so I am not about to repeat it. This is at a time when, sad to say, the late President’s palms had turned dark and local medical professionals were saying the black pigmentation of his palms was a sign of either an advanced stage of a cancer, or due to the treatment of a more serious disease than what the public might have been told.

Now the president is gone, and one of his arch critics, former President Jerry John Rawlings was on BBC telling the whole world the late president had cancer even at the time he was his Vice President, and that he could not survive for more than three hours a day, because the cancer had affected his eye and ear. Is it not strange that Rawlings, who has been openly critical of the president and claimed to be a crusader of truth, failed to say this until now; and rather tried to make political gains from it by attempting to push his wife through to become NDC flagbearer. Shocking isn’t it?

So the point is, why were Ghanaians not told exactly what the problem was? My opinion is that if we had been told the bare facts from the onset, we would have understood better and probably been more accommodating of the president’s petty flaws like pronunciation brouhahas, and even of the need for him to travel and be away for longer periods and get better treatment. I strongly believe that people made played politics with the president health because the president’s men decided to do propaganda with it, rather than tell us the truth so we can stand beside our president as he gets treatment, at whatever cost to us.

It is such dangerous propaganda that compels his men to return him to Ghana as quickly as possible to show he is fit, even when he may have needed to stay away for longer periods and get better and extensive medical attention. Once a colleague leading journalist asked some security capos at a security/media forum, whether it was in the interest of national security for the military to hide the fact that a top military capo was epileptic, or for the media to tell the public that top military capo was epileptic – is it not wise to let the public know so they could be more understanding of the military capo – after all Cecil Roosevelt was handicapped and he was president of the United States of America. So what if our president had throat cancer – are we better off being evasive about it?

THE LATE PRESIDENT IS UPSET Whether it was sinusitis or throat cancer, the propagandist were firmly at work, getting paid to do all the spin doctoring, even to the extent of bringing us messages supposedly from the president, when in fact the president was completely oblivious to it. The president was no cat hunter, and he made that sufficiently clear in one of his meet-the-press series. But long before then, Nii Lantey Vanderpuye reported said the president supported the call by the chairman of the NDC for the judiciary to either purge itself or be purged by the NDC and government: the infamous “different ways of killing a cat saga”. At the time the president was out of town, and on his arrival at the airport he completely dissociated himself from a statement attributed to him, saying that the judiciary must be left alone to do its work. He repeated position at one of the meetings with the press by asking the famous question “do I look like a cat hunter?” So which president was that Nii Lantey speaking for, and who sent him to go speak for the president?

People called for the head of Nii Lantey, but he has remained in office even till date. And that may have served as an impetus for the recent gargantuan fiasco, where the Chief Presidential Spokesperson, Koku Anyidoho went haywire sacking the ‘Ashanti Regional Manager’ of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) in the name of the President. The occasion was Ghana’s day of shame, when the lights failed to come on time at the Baba Yara stadium during a World Cup qualifier between Black Stars and their counterparts from Lesotho. Koku stated “the President is upset and heads are rolling and heads will roll – the Ashanti Regional Managing Director of ECG is fired with immediate effect.” This was even before the president could get full briefing on the problem to ascertain whether the problem was from ECG or not, and it turned out ECG was not to blame. This clearly confirmed the position of critics that the president was not on top of things. So the chief propagandist had to come back quickly and do another spin doctoring that he did not speak for the president but rather for himself and some ‘top government officials’ who took the decision without the president’s knowledge. So clearly, they showed to Ghanaians the president was not in charge; period.

THE GREEDY BASTARDS Speaking of the President not being in charge, it brings us to the greedy bastards, Rawlingses infamous description of the men around the president. The ‘greedy bastards’ around the president signed off and paid GHS51million of our money to one man even when the President of the Republic of Ghana and the courts of the land had asked them not to pay. The Minister of Justice, who initiated the payment process, simply resigned and is walking free; but the Minister of Finance, who actually paid the money away, have since remained in office and continued to manage/mismanaged our finances. Now even the young propagandists have turned into judgement debt collectors, and they are spending their last few days in office to run a the government’s communication machinery as a quasi-PR outfit for private corporate bodies, some of which have been cited for crimes against this country, all in the bid to get the state to pay those companies whopping sums in judgement debts and settlements, so maybe, funds for their electioneering campaign would not be a problem.

As if the greedy bastards and the judgement debt collectors were not enough, the president have had his own political mentor and founder of the NDC, Flt Lt. Jerry John Rawlings bombarding him with name calling, and very derogatory and demeaning descriptions of him and his performance as president. His Jerriship, Efo Kwashie has not spared the president from day one, calling on him to deal ruthlessly with members of the opposition, without which, in his opinion, the president was weak, a traitor, oversaw corruption, surrounded himself with greedy bastards, leading the country into an abyss and into darkness and all that. No president in Ghana, and probably in any country, has had his own party founder running him down like Yevuvi did to the Asumdwehene. And the president never replied because he remembers that former president Rawlings was the one who introduced him to the political limelight, so he contained all the pain, and that could be poison to the soul and eventually to the body. Rawlings’ attacks may have been enough poison, but the president had to take an overdose of that from Rawlings’ attack dogs, code named FONKAR.

Rawlings went to the extent of predicting that President Mills was going to lose the December elections. Well, I guess Rawlings and his men must be happy because President Mill lost the elections even before the elections. But Rawlings was not the only one who predicted the disastrous fate of the late president. Quite a number of self-styled prophets have said on public radio that the late president Mills would either not make it the December elections, or he would lose the elections. Some have even prophesied that a fourth John, in the person of John Mahama, would rule Ghana as president after John Rawlings, John Kufuor and John Mills. Now John Dramani is indeed President of Ghana. Some also prophesied that at least four African Presidents would die this year – it begun with Libya, now Ghana, and former Egyptian President and Zimbabwean president is also taken ill, could they be numbers three and four? So even the prophecies poisoned the spiritual atmosphere for the late president, and this time it seem not even his favorite Prophet TB Joshua could save the day.

All of that was poison from within and from neutral sources, but there was also the All-die-be-die crusaders, who have done everything in their ‘out of power’ to hang every misdeed of the greedy bastards, judgement debts crusaders, and lying propagandists on the head of the Asumdwehene, and sought very hard to drum home their claim the late president was a hypocrite, because they felt he pretended not to see what his boys and men were doing, but was usually quick to call for cease fire when opposition reacts to the deeds of his own men and ‘boys’. The all-die-be-die crusaders swore that even if it would take their blood to ensure the late president lost the December elections, they were willing to sacrifice their own lives. Apparently, they have lost the opportunity to compete with him in December because he has gone forth into Glory for a better crown and seat, than the wooden seat and staff that came with the presidential office in Ghana.

So make your own judgement, whether it was sinusitis or throat cancer; the greedy bastards or the lying propagandists; the all-die-be-die crusaders or the judgement debt collectors; the in-house attack dogs or the dooms day prophets; those who contested his flagbearership or himself, who allegedly gave notice long ago that we wanted only one terms, or whether it was just destiny or providence; better yet all those factors together that sent the president off the playing field into an early shower.

Whatever it was that killed our president, we shall remember him as father for all and Asumdwehene; we shall also not forget the moments of ‘Dzewufie asem’ (cry your own cry); ‘Ecominy’, ‘slow but sure’, ‘so far so better’, ‘I am in motion – I have hit the ground and running’, ‘do I look like a cat hunter?’ and many more fond memories of him. He may have not been strong to withstand all the pressures from the enemies within and without, but he lives in our hearts as a father figure, a peacemaker, God-loving and as has been recognized by all international organizations, incorruptible.

May his soul rest in peace, and may all that wished him dead find forgiveness from God.