|THE LATE PRESIDENT JOHN EVANS FIFII ATTA MILLS.|
Article: Seth J. Bokpe & Zainab Issah
On a day when sorrow conquered many hearts, tears flowed freely unhindered and the sun took cover behind a gloomy sky, his journey to eternal rest began last Wednesday.
While hisbody was moved form the 37 Military Hospitals through his Regimanuel Gray Estate residence to the principal streets of the Christiansburg Castle where the late President J.E.A Mil steered the ‘Yutong Bus called Ghana,’he left behind a trail of spectators in tears as the funeral cortegemoved on.
On the streets of Accra, the red and black clothes pictured the sorrow of Ghanaians.
Finally the hearse touched down at the Banquet Hall of the State House where the late President was laid in state his infectious smile and high sense of humour gone with the death that snapped his soul.
President Mills might not be charismatic but that which he had not in charisma he made up for in humour.
At the height of the Woyome saga, Mr Martin Amidu who had just released his first of what would later be known as epistles alleged that some ministers were committing ‘gargatuan crimes against the state'.
The word although an English word caught on becoming one of the many word’s in the country’s political lexicon.
When President Mills had the opportunity to address Parliament in his last state of the nation address, not even members on the minority side in Parliament, who wore red armbands and mourning attire and jeering him throughout his delivery and the showing of red cards amid chants of “away, away, away” could stifle his side splitting joke.
Hear him “before I came here I knew I would be heckled because it is the routine, but I didn’t expect this gargantuan heckling.” ''Madam Speaker, i must say...this time the heckling was gargantuan," to which the parilamentarians cracked up, breaking the ice of tention-filled floor of parliament.
Remember the Dr Kwabena Adjei, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Chairman’s rave about purging the judiciary in the wake of the string of losses the government suffered in court?
Dr Adjei not-too-happy with the losses rambled ‘‘People in the judiciary can make a very good case look very bad. If the judiciary is biased, if the judiciary has made its mind in one direction, not even Jesus Christ who was appointed as the Attorney General (sic) can change things. We will clean it if they don’t take steps to clean it. We will clean it and let everybody everywhere blame us for interfering in the judiciary and we will take them on. … at the right time, you will see how we clean it. There are many ways to kill a cat.”
The NDC Chairman received the bashing of his life. When the dust settled on the matter and Mr Koby Fiagbe the Editor of the Ghanaians Lens baited the late departed President at a media encounter early this year, asking whether the President had any intention to remove the Chief Justice, Justice Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, as had been speculated in sections of the media, the late President proved that he had his comics gloves on.
President Mills, who had stood throughout the session ostensibly to send a message across about his state of health took a step forward, removed his spectacles and boomed “Stand here and look in my face. Do I look like a cat hunter?”
Not even Dr Adjei, the ministers and the squad of journalist could control their laughter at the humour everybody present burst out in an uncontrollable laughter.
At the same event, Shamima Muslim, a Citi FM news anchor sought to know what kind of a leader President Mills would want to describe himself - charismatic or transformational.
The late President tonned down looked in her direction and responded “We like borrowing words we don’t understand. My simple answer is that whatever I am I have enable Ghanaians to have water, extended roads, removed schools under trees, migrate Ghanaians unto the Single Spine Salary Structure, call it madam what you may”.
During his presidency, one of the things many Ghanaians would respect and remember him for was the fact that he never let go of an opportunity to preach peace.
When the Ivorian political hiccup reached its peak and ECOWAS had reached a decision to launch a military attack on former Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo if he failed to relinquish power peacefully, the late President humorously captured his foreign policy on Cote d’voire in three words in his native Fante Language “Dzi Wo Fie Asem” to wit mind your own business.
It was given more than enough airtime in the Ghanaian media and the BBC and attracted a flurry of text messages, some of which were highly venomous. But the good old Professor stuck to his guns and refused to allow the country to be used as a launch pad for war.
The current Ivorian President who would have later become a beneficiary of such an action would later describe the decision of the late President Mills as “wise”.
Make fun of the late President Mills and he would reply back in equal measure not with insults but with a rib-wrecking response.
The flag-bearer of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Akufo-Addo , caught in the web of campaign euphoria right after he was elected the NPP flag bearer referred to President John Evans Atta Mills as ‘Professor Do Little’, saying he has failed Ghanaians.
Prof Mills response, even when some government spokespersons and NDC functionaries had put Nana Akufo-Addo on the chopping board and shredded him was simple and comical.
“Oh thank God he didn't say I am Prof Do Nothing at least he acknowledges that I am doing something,” the late President said characteristic of his response to the numerous political jabs that he received.
When reports from the rumour mill powered by the media traversed media space that the late President’s fund for the NDC flag bearer race was GHC 90 million, President Mills’ long laugh and subsequent reaction, “Ebei” would later become the signature tune of some local programmes.
Like many of us, the late President was not immune to tongue slips. He had a few at state functions and some Ghanaians did not fail to turn those slips into instruments of mockery. They came in T-shirts, ringtones and songs sometimes blaring on radio stations.
‘Ecomini,” the late professor’s gaffe at his first State of the Nation address was one such item that became a mix for some DJs.
When the late Asomdwehene or King of Peace as he was affectionately known had the opportunity to respond, it was one that put a smile on some faces. "Now that the economy has improved, it's
now an economy and not ecomini,"he joked.
now an economy and not ecomini,"he joked.
That is the man the earth is about to swallow. That is the man death has stolen from us. That is the man whose death seamlessly has held this country together, the first time in the history of this country.
President Mills may your gentle soul rest in peace. President Mills adieu.