Perhaps, I might be too young to write on a giant who would have turned 72 on the 21st of this month July, 2016. Perhaps, because I may have been too far away from him both in public and private life. Or even, perhaps, I may be seen to lack the details of his life. But, I believe, whatever I have seen, and whatever I have heard so far, would provide me appropriate information to celebrate the life of a Professor.
Perhaps, and I succumb, I would require someone to come to my aid to help make my future writings on the man JEA Mills much weightier.
I was a young man when he attempted the presidency in the year 2000. I might not have noticed him because, the village boy that I was, with the struggles that abound in such settings, I was focusing on how to be able to access secondary education. That was what mattered to me most.
By 2004, before the elections, I was done with secondary school and had moved to Accra to bother about how to acquire higher learning. I still may have failed to notice him. Perhaps so, because, politics had not been much of an event at home.
Not even on any occasion have I heard my late parents discussed politics. But, after he lost the 2004 elections, I noticed him. From my village settings, I began following politics; and he stood out.
I saw him as a man who had opened the iron gate for politics for the soft, cool headed, and humble, as well as modest men and women to join. Perhaps, I fell much in love with him because he provided the opportunity for young men and women to work.
He simply demystified the title Professor, demystified the title President and the privileges it comes with and brought it to the level of the ordinary man.
I watched Professor Mills from a distance and my admiration for him kept soaring each moment that passed. His humble, calm, respectful, and intelligent demeanor had stood him out among his political peers.
Ahead of the 2008 elections, several political activities of his contenders were enough to push the leader of the largest opposition to flair up. He would have had the numbers to aid him take this country to the brink. But hey! How could you think that for Professor Mills? Prof. represented peace, truth, and trust. He believed that whatever he sought after, can only be handed him by God.
He left a major political strategy in our political engagements – door-to-door. Images of the good old Prof. are still making the rounds. He was with the aged, he was with the young; he was with the trotro drivers as he was taxi drivers; he was with the weak as was with the strong. He went down the trenches to speak with the people in the language they understood.
He simply was best at it. In the end, he came from below 45% in the first round of elections in 2008 to over 50% in the third round. A victory worked for and won on his strength after his opponents had managed to create an atmosphere of doubt around him for over 8 years.
Then he assumed the throne of president. He quickly and consciously demystified presidency and brought it to the people. This was a president whom many taxi drivers attested calling and speaking to. This was a president who would not hesitate calling serial callers to reprimand them on comments he disapproves. This was a president who would always want to know what was happening around his country.
He cared for his people. Having the opportunity to govern, he quickly set out to provide adequate structures for basic education. He started a project to eradicate schools under trees. He equally set out to expand education at the higher level, expanded access to water, roads, and to reconnect the people with their government by providing them with the necessary basics of society. Simply put, he did the little things perfectly for the people.
Having the power to chase after his opponents who never spared his wife and himself embarrassments resulting in the seizure of official vehicles at his disposal, he let go. He made them saints who were without blemish. Today, that singular act, had in a way, stabilized the country Ghana. He extended an olive branch to his opponents who held to it, but never lost an opportunity to vilify, insult and attack him.
On the international front, he had the opportunity to use diplomacy to aid in resolving a conflict in neighboring Côte d’ Ivoire which had the tendency to spill over to Ghana. His mantra “di wo fiɛ asɛm” which received local and international condemnation from certain quarters was largely appreciated eventually by the parties involved in the conflict in Côte d’ Ivoire.
A man, born onto this planet, will live and die when the time is due. He passed on at age 68 on that fateful day. And then tributes began pouring in from far and near. Tears had no brakes. Tears dripped off eyes like a fountain abound with water. The nation was thrown into grief. Ghana came to a stand still. The white clouds gave way to dark clouds to hang over Ghana and the heavens opened to receive their hero.
He lived, he walked, he achieved, and he departed. Such is what life has for us. We know and recall our birthdays. That has been assured. Death day is kept away from man.
The testimonies even four years of his death, say one thing; no matter how people perceived him, no matter how they accepted him or rejected him, they all agreed he was a good man.
He had broken mysterious barriers for many to pass. He opened doors for many hearts to accommodate. He provided opportunities for many to strive for excellence. He provided for men and gave reasons to remain steadfast to God until he says this is the time, take it.
While I tearfully bring this piece to an end, I wish to salute all who stood with him through thick and thin. His Vice President now President of the Republic John Dramani Mahama, Mrs Naadu Mills, Mr. Koku Anyidoho, Kwadwo Twum Boafo, Omane Boamah, Madam Valerie Sawyer, Sammy Atta Mills, Dr. Cadman Mills, Mr. Totobi Kwakye, Mr. Kwamena and Ato Ahwoi, and many others whom I cannot mention. God bless you all! Till we meet again. Father, Rest In Perfect Peace!