Feature Article of Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Columnist: Obed, Jane

Allow the late Prof. Mills to rest in perfect peace

NDC Council of Elders, Please Tell President Mahama to Allow the Late Prof. Mills to Rest In Perfect Peace!!!

Since the untimely and deeply sad passing of former President Mills, I have watched and listened with interest, sorrow and indeed trepidation, to some of the declarations made by President Mahama about Prof. Mills. The purpose of this piece is to implore you, Council of Elders, to advise Mahama to desist from making needless, unguarded and judgmental statements about Mills who, unfortunately, is not around to defend himself, or at least respond to the pronouncements and insinuations. Not many people find it prudent or fair to cast aspersions on the dead for the simple reason that the dead are bereft of the opportunity to make a case for themselves, therefore, I am inclined to believe that President Mahama thinks that death rather creates an avenue to, probably, settle scores or prove a point, no matter how lame.
It may interest you to know that a week after the death of Mills and before his burial, Pres. Mahama was televised making deplorable statements like, “Mills was not a perfect man, he had his faults.” In fact, I looked at him askance wondering what his motive was and what his perception of the utility of such a statement was.
Subsequently, he was reported by the media to have said rather callously yet insightfully that, “[i]t is often said that in adversity, there are opportunities. God has been good to our party. The death of President Mills has opened a door of opportunity for me to become President.” (Emphasis mine) And how can I forget a thoughtless pronouncement like, “God has in his wisdom shifted the mantle of power to a new generation and I call on the generation of young people of this country to stand by me….”
After making these statements without reproach, President Mahama took the liberty of plunging into insinuations. He started his “half-baked” campaign and to promote his chances of winning, he decided to present himself as being the very opposite of some prevailing perceptions of Mills. So, on his bill boards meaningless phrases like, “action-driven,” “accessible,” “decisive”- the very things that people had accused Mills of not being. If nothing at all, Mills chose Mahama to be his Vice!!
Recently, on relocating to the flagstaff house he decided to create an opportunity to portray Mills negatively by suggesting his move marked “the closure of a chapter of Ghana’s history and the dawn of a new era.” And what exactly does that statement mean? That he Mahama, unlike the “pre-independence born” Mills, was in favour of moving to the flagstaff house? Well, I guess I now know why Mahama chose to dump Mills at the Castle, make it a tourist attraction and flee.
To crown it all, in commenting on the decision of the Pope to resign, Mahama indicated, “[w]e received with shock the decision by His holiness the Pope to resign but we admire his courage as not many people can look within themselves and say that as a result of deteriorating health, which is not making me carry on duties to an optimum, I want to step down so that someone else takes it and continues to push the objective for which our organization exists and I think that is a mark of courage.” When the bible tells that we have the right to do all things but that not all such things are befitting of us, it is talking about such circumstances where we have the right to express opinions on an issue but in the light of certain conditions, it is foolish to so comment.
I am not suggesting that Prof. Mills should be idolised, but I am kindly asking that the criticisms of him, if necessary, be constructive. So far, I only hear statements which unfortunately, are potentially divisive and targeted at embarrassing the memory of Mills. I would have thought that most of us would focus on drawing on incidents and experiences which would enrich our communication. None of the statements referred to serve that purpose and Mahama could have made his point without alluding to Mills.
Instead of focusing on Mills and his perceived weaknesses, kindly advise the President to focus on building his own reputation as for the first time in the history of our country, the first suspect in a ‘fraudulent’ gold transaction was the President himself! At least with Mills, we would have been sure that he knew nothing about it.
Secondly and again for first the first time in the history of our country, a State of the Nation address was so porous that people were calling for the development of a template to prevent the repetition of such. Mills with all his “imperfections” and “pre-independence mentality” gave addresses that were befitting of our nation. It was customary to hear the Opposition say after his address that it was ’uninspiring” but never was it so base and depthless that people did not find it worthy of comment but rather suggested that we define a standard for it.
Let the President know that NDC was built on and is sustained by the toil, love and sacrifices of many good people. Everyone in the party will testify to the work that Mills put into sustaining the party especially, when he was in opposition. Those times were hard!! Encourage Mahama to find out the magnitude of the burden that was placed on Mills’ (and others, of course) shoulders to move the party forward and how money was raised those days to finance the ridiculously high bills that were presented to Mills during congresses and on many other occasions. Ask those who went from door to door campaigning, virtually begging for an opportunity to serve the people of Ghana, what it means to work hard and make lasting sacrifices to achieve something.
Mills was genuinely committed to the NDC and it is because we do not want to undermine the respectable effort that he put into sustaining the party that we have kept quiet about a number of things that will surely be of much interest to Ghanaians!! Moreover, we know better and we have sacrificed too much to destroy what we helped to build. Let President Mahama know that Mills with all his “imperfections” was loyal and faithful and these virtues count for something, not to mention the fact that he President Mahama is riding mainly on the qualities and legacy of the very person he creates opportunities to needlessly denigrate and degrade.
Lastly, let Mahama know that he is not under an obligation to honour Mills’ memory (Mills does not expect that of him, especially when some of Mahama’s election T-shirts for the year 2012 were printed as far back as 2009!) but he owes it to himself not to defame Mills or else his comments about the Pope, and inferentially, Mills, will come back to haunt him very soon.

Thank you.

Jane Obed