Born July 21, 1944, Late President John Evans Atta-Mills of Ghana who died last
Tuesday at the age of 68, was from the Fanti ethnic group in the central region of Ghana. Like one destined to be a statesman, he remained at the corridors of power for sometimes and only succumbed to the cold hands of death on July 24, 2012 after a prolonged battle with cancer.
Mills’ political career came to limelight in 1997 when former President, Jerry Rawlings appointed him as Vice President, a position he held until the year 2000. In 2000 and 2004, the man popularly called “Prof’ took a shot at the presidency as a candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) but lost.
In 2008 his determination paid off when the former law teacher defeated his opponent, Nana Akufo-Addo, with the slimmest margin in Ghana’s political history that was decided in an equally symbolic run-off.
Within three years of his presidency, Mills transformed the economic, social and political landscape of Ghana. Under his government the country’s economy stablised leading to sustained reduction in inflation from 18 per cent to 9 per cent within two years. Also Ghana’s International reserve grew from $2 billion to $3.5 billion, while the currency (Cedi) stablised.
A renowned academic, Mills took Ghana’s education to an enviable height that was underscored by the attraction to study in Ghana. In the judiciary, Mills proficiency as a law teacher for 25 years impacted positively on Ghana’s judicial system.
He also transformed the health sector remarkably and ensured the power sector remained celebrated as one of the best in Africa. It is on record that Mills launched Ghana into the ranks of world’s petroleum producers.
Indeed, we sympathise with Ghanaians and share their sorrow as they mourn this great and inspirational leader, who made history even in death as the first President to die in office.
As a matter of fact we shall miss his genuine patriotic African spirit profoundly manifest in the regional organisations. Mills elicited a rare kind of courage, awe and brotherliness just as he was focused, humble and well guided in his thoughts and actions.
But for his death last Tuesday, he was scheduled for a one-day official visit to Nigeria in August to seek amicable solution to the foreign retail trade controversy which affected many Nigerians. Such is the leader Africa has lost.
Ghanaians must take heart and be strong for it is not how long one lives, but how well one was able to utilise the opportunity life offers to serve humanity. In this moment of uncertainties and national auguish Ghana must ponder on the legacies of Atta-Mills.
He has established a platform that is recognised worldwide that can still be the spring-board to showcase Ghana. It was in recognition of Mills’initiatives that the United States President, Barack Obama visited Ghana in 2009 and eulogised the country as a success story economically and as a model of democracy.
Indeed Ghana’s democratic maturity has become obvious, the latest was the smooth take-over of power by the former Vice President, John Dramani Mahama who was sworn in last Tuesday without any problem.
As Mahama takes over and prepares Ghana for another round of elections in December 2012, we can only wish the country well. In spite of the short time left, Ghana must use the forthcoming elections to honour John Atta-Mills.
The Tide is happy that Atta-Mills was one leader Africa can be proud of. He was a true African leader, in fact, one of the finest in our time. Under his watch, Ghana achieved relative stability, in many sectors and became the destination of choice for people seeking quality education, leisure and business.
We are proud to join millions of well meaning persons across the world to commiserate with the government and good people of Ghana over the death of Atta-Mills. We hope that other African leaders will emulate his good sides and make the continent move away from the past as to position our people for the challenges of the moment.
Like Atta-Mills, African leaders should commit more to regional cooperation and peace. African leaders should look beyond the peculiar needs of their countries and take the whole of the black race to her enviable place in history.