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Prof. Mills Taught Us Not To Pay Back Our Opponents In Their Own Coin - Ablakwa   
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Deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa has indicated that the legacy of late President John Evans Atta Mills, ‘remains ever relevant’.

Speaking at the commemoration of the third anniversary in honour of the late President, the deputy Minister said the man who was known as ‘Asomdweehene’ “has taught us to abhor vindictiveness and not seek to pay back our political opponents in their own coin”.

Read the full statement


Right Honourable Speaker, may I express my profound gratitude to you and this august House for the opportunity to make this commemorative statement in honour of His Excellency Prof. John Evans Atta Mills – an exceptional Ghanaian leader and President who loved, toiled, lived and died for his country.

Mr. Speaker, I must admit this is sincerely a difficult task for me, because, not only am I unworthy to discuss the legacy of this remarkable African, I am even more constrained by his modesty when he was alive. I believe he is likely to be looking down upon us from the Heavens highly unimpressed that there was an attempt to extol his virtues.

Today the 21st of July, 2015 would have been his 71st birthday, were he to be alive.  He observed his 68th birthday only to be called by his maker three days after.  So this week marks exactly the third anniversary of his departure from this world, which is not our home.

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the world Education and Youth Ministers summit and Global Youth Camp hosted by Rev. Ock Soo Park of the International Youth Fellowship in South Korea. All of us in the Ghanaian delegation felt very proud indeed when Rev. Park, speaking to an estimated audience of 60,000 from 50 different nations, made reference to Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, recalling how he and his famous Gracias Choir had engaged the attention of President Mills the morning of that fateful 24th July 2012 and how they had been struck by his humility and devotion to God. 

Rev Park also recounted President Mills’ parting words with them - “now I can have a good rest” though they did not at the time understand the Professor.

Mr. Speaker, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills is not only being discussed in South Korea. His memory continues to be honoured here in Africa as well.  Later today, our nation will listen to a special Commemorative Lecture organised by the John Evans Atta Mills Centre for Law and Governance at GIMPA in partnership with the John Evans Atta Mills Memorial Library (UCC) to be delivered by the respected Nigerian, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, a former Governor of Ekiti State.

Mr. Speaker, as many home and abroad continue to testify of Prof. Mills’ amazing character and rare leadership qualities, one thing is evident to both friends and foes: that the legacy of President Mills, remains ever relevant and crucial to our forward march as a country and a continent.

Mr. Speaker, may I now respectfully seek your indulgence to elucidate on my humble attempt at selecting a 10-point legacy of the man who sacrificed his all for his dear nation, Ghana.

1)      Succession:

President Mills has taught us that great leaders choose great successors just as Elijah chose Elisha and Moses chose Joshua in biblical times.  President Mills left us in the safe pair of hands of his beloved John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, who has proven to be a wise and unifying leader capable of keeping his nation together and working tirelessly for its development.  President Mahama has also shown that taking over as leader of the National Democratic Congress, he has the leadership acumen and maturity to keep that great party united and formidable. Recent history is replete with how other countries especially in Africa have been unlucky when they have been faced with similar circumstances because they had not been blessed with the right Elisha or Joshua as we have in President Mahama.

2)      Asomdwehene:

President Mills truly earned this accolade.  He wholeheartedly pursued peaceful and non-violent politicking.  He did not relent in this pursuit even when some sought to almost ridicule him by the constant refrain “amidzi mipe asomdwee” to wit, as for me I am for peace. As we all come round to condemn the gruesome murder of the Upper East Regional Chairman of the NPP, Mr. Adams Mahama (may his soul rest in peace) and the scenes of violence that characterised the Talensi by-election a few weeks ago, we cannot help but admit that the Prof. Mills’ style of politics is what is good for the health of our democracy and our nation. Our politics must be nothing but peaceful and must have no place for warmongers and terrorist-like groups.

3)      Gracious In Defeat:

President Mills proved to be not only a good sportsman in the disciplines of hockey and football but also in the political sport.  As leader of the opposition, he taught us to be gracious in defeat, put the nation’s unity and stability ahead of narrow political and personal interests and to live to “fight” another day, even when some party supporters think otherwise. On losing the 2000 and 2004 elections, he never held this country to ransom, always emphasizing that his presidential ambition was not more important than the peace, unity and stability of our nation.

4)       Father For All:

President Mills has taught us to abhor vindictiveness and not seek to pay back our political opponents in their own coin.  He taught us that though it may be against the popular wish of one’s party members and supporters, and may even be costly and make you lose some key allies and heavyweights, it is always better to allow for genuine justice and to build a nation of equal opportunity for all.

5)      Modesty:

To say that Professor Mills was modest and selfless is obviously a huge under-statement.  It has often been said that, give a man power or money and then you will know his true character.  President Mills taught us that one can rise to the highest office and yet be the most modest and simple of citizens.  He drastically reduced the size of the presidential convoy, the size of government and presidential delegations that travelled abroad, refused to accept hampers and gifts, reviewed the end of service benefits for ex-presidents and is not known to have acquired any property while in office.  

6)      “Nowhere cool”:

As he humorously told a team of senior journalists in one of his regular interactions with the Ghanaian media, he understood that the presidential office was not for cooling off but rather for hard work and diligence.  Despite his age, he was noted for his intelligent and hands-on approach to leadership. His constant field trips and surprise visits to strategic agencies of State endeared him to many a Ghanaian and enlightened us on some of the best result-oriented leadership techniques.  Perhaps that approach may be credited with what later became known as his unprecedented achievements.   

7)      Believe in Youth: 

For a quarter of a century, Professor Mills taught, moulded and shaped the youth of this country in the classroom.  That credits him with making an outstanding contribution to the human capital development of people in all three branches of Government: the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.   

Professor Mills’ time in the classroom did not only give him an invaluable understanding of the youth, but also fortified his belief in the youth and their abilities to contribute positively to nation building. No wonder that he gave opportunities to many young people, including my good self, to serve in his Government. He vehemently disagreed with the notion that the youth ought not be heard or seen in decision-making and policy formulation a belief fully shared by President Mahama. It is obviously to Prof. Mills’ credit that today, in all the major political parties, there appears to be a renaissance for youthful additions. 

8)      Anti-Corruption:

Few Presidents in our continent have been noted to leave office or died during their tenure and there have not been revelations of dubious secret bank accounts discovered abroad or properties dotted all over the world.  This is a man who defied the dominant narrative from Africa and proved that public office could be used to improve the lot of the common man and not to amass personal wealth.

9)      “I care for you”:

This may have been thought of initially as a mere vote-catching slogan of an opposition leader, but coming into office, President Mills left a legacy of trust that, slogans before the votes can have meaning after the votes are counted.  Despite a relatively short stay in office, his signature achievements in efforts to eliminating schools under trees, providing free school uniforms, establishing two new public universities in the Volta and Brong Ahafo Regions, recording Ghana’s highest GDP growth rate and attaining the longest period of single digit inflation in the Fourth Republic, just to mention but a few, guarantee his place in history as a man who deeply and truly cared for the people he served.  

10)  God reigns in the affairs of men: 

Prof. Mills left a legacy consistent with Psalm 127:1 – “Except the lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.  Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain”. 

He was not ashamed of his faith and encouraged prayers for the success of our nation.  In line with his humility, he believed that God could bless our best efforts.  It is to his memory that we now have an institutionalised national day of prayer. 

Mr. Speaker, as I bring down the curtain on what may appear as the ten commandments for Good Governance, may I conclude, by observing that once again, from this great nation, a rare African leader cast in the image of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has come and gone.  As we eulogize the good old Professor, may we all take pride in the fact that our democracy produced this noble leader in our time, and may we all be inspired to emulate his steps until the day, that this nation, under God, achieves the golden dream.     

I thank you.

Source: Peacefmonline.com

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