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Friday, July 27, 2012

Ghanaians still in shock over Mills’ death

From Sebastian R. Freiku and Issah Alhassan, Kumasi

From Sebastian R. Freiku and Issah Alhassan, Kumasi
The death of His Excellency John Evans Atta Mills has come as a shock to many residents in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital.
A few minutes after the rumour started, specifically from the social media platform like Facebook, about the sudden death of the President, many approached the information with cautious belief, with some speculating it was one of the usual buzzes that often surfaced about the late President.
Calls were made to friends, relatives and particularly the regional office of The Chronicle, seeking confirmation of the rumour about the demise of the President.
By 3 p.m. when it became apparent that the President was indeed dead, the mood and atmosphere in the Metropolis changed to that of sadness and sorrow.
While many immediately expressed dismay at the news, particularly considering the fact that the President recently arrived from medical check-up from the United States feeling healthier, others did not hide the fact that the leadership of government was the cause of the death of the late President.
Barely a day after the sad event, most people, particularly the self employed, who were in a moody situation and clad in mourning apparel took yesterday off their normal duties to mourn the late President in silence throughout the day.
Many public and private functions, which were scheduled to take place yesterday, were also canceled because of the sudden news of the death of the President. From drinking joints, lorry stations and inside commercial vehicles, the death of the President became the topic for discussion, with people expressing divergent views about circumstances that must have led to his sudden demise.
Some were of the opinion that the power brokers in government should have told the whole public the truth about the President’s health status, rather than keeping it secret, while others also said it was prudent security-wise, for the public to have been kept in the dark about the health condition of the late President.                                                                                                                           The paper has been speaking to some key political figures and personalities who have had association with the late President and his government.
The ex-Nifahen of the Mfantseman Council in the Ashanti Region, and an opinion leader in the Mfantseman community in Kumasi, Nana Ninsin-Imbeah II, said the whole Mfantse community in Kumasi was distressed by the news of the death of one of their own.
“I became speechless when I heard the news, the whole of today I have not gone out, I have not been able to go to work because I am still in shock,” Nana Imbeah lamented.
He observed that though he was privy to the unfortunate health status of someone who he said he had association with, he did not know that death was going to visit him so soon.
“We were expecting that at least the President would live to contest this year’s elections, but it was never to be,” Nana Imbeah bewailed and expressed the hope that the state protocol will put the necessary arrangements in place for the state to mourn and give him a befitting burial and funeral.
The former District Chief Executive of Sekyere East, Mr. Kwadwo Addae, said he could not believe his ears when he heard the news and had to do several calls to top rank government officials for confirmation.
He said the entire Sekyere East district and other adjoining towns were in a shock when the news broke.
Giving his personal testimony about the late President, Mr. Adae said he would fondly remember the late President for his humility and the fact that he gave him the opportunity to serve in his government.
A founding member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. George Ayisi-Boateng, said he was equally flustered when he heard the news of the President’s death. He said though he was a political opponent, he never wished that this should happen to the President, the NDC or the entire country.
“Death is not a good thing but God knows best, we wish he had stayed, but what God has arranged, man can do nothing about it,” he noted.
The NPP founding member said he was not, however, happy with the way leadership of government and top officials decided to deceive Ghanaians with the health status of the late President.
Mr. Ayisi-Boateng expressed the hope that the death of the President will unite the country and forge us ahead towards peace and tranquility in the upcoming elections.
The chairman of the erstwhile UK-based Ghana Democratic Movement (GDM), Mr. Alex Asabre, currently on short holidays in Ghana, expressed his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and wife of the late Prof. Mills, who he described as a great man.
Nana Karikari Appau II, Omanhene of Bekwai Traditional Area, noted that the untimely death of the late President was shocking and hoped Prof. Mills, who stood for  peace, sincerity and  honesty would be accorded a fitting funeral in his honour. He consoled with the family and urged the government to maintain the peace and unity of the people.
Mr. Patrick Adu Gyamfi, Bekwai NPP Constituency chairman and his executives have called on the local NDC constituency chairman, NDC constituency executives and the Bekwai Municipal Chief Executive to express sympathies of the NPP on the death of the President.
From the Afigya Kwabre district, Simmons Yussif Kewura reports that Mr. Badu Adu Boahene, Suame NPP constituency chairman was shocked at the death of President Mills. He said Prof. Mills was a good leader by all standards, and that his death was a great loss to the nation.  He said the late President would be remembered for his humility.
An NDC activist, Stephen Osei Owusu, who could not control himself, said the death of the law Professor was very painful.
Mr. Mohammed Loni, Kronum branch Organizer of the NDC said as painful as the news is, Ghanaians should take consolation in the fact that death is imminent. He said President Mills took Ghana on the path of development through his Better Ghana Agenda and hoped President Mahama can continue where his former boss left off and win the 2012 elections for the NDC.
Meanwhile, Ernest Best Anane, reports that the National House of Chiefs yesterday postponed its second general meeting to mourn with the people of Ghana, the wife and family of the late President of the Republic of Ghana, after His Excellency J.E.A. Mills passed away on Tuesday.
Prof. Naa S. Nabila, President of the National House of Chiefs, on behalf of the traditional authorities of Ghana expressed condolences to all the people of Ghana, especially the wife and family of President J. E. A. Mills.
The Standing Committee of the National House of Chiefs stated that the committee received the devastating news of the President’s death during their meeting in Kumasi.
The Committee recalled with nostalgia how only  four weeks ago (on June 29, 2012) the members of the Standing Committee had the opportunity to call on President Mills to welcome him back home, after his return from the United States, where he had undergone  medical check-up, and to wish him good health.
The National House of Chiefs expressed appreciation to Prof. Mills for responding to their appeal by contributing GH¢500,000.00 as seed capital for the establishment of House of Chiefs Endowment Fund endowment fund.
By his death, “Ghana has indeed lost a great statesman”, the chiefs emphasized, saying that since he was sworn-in as President in January 2009, “he (President Mills) worked so much, and worked so hard, to ensure the continued peace and stability for the development of the country.”
Northern Region
From Tamale Edmond Gyebi, reports that the former Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama has asked Ghanaians living in and outside Ghana to see the sudden demise of the late President, John Evans Atta Mills as “national disaster” and offer their support to the bereaved family.
He described the Late Professor as father and mentor for many Ghanaians, and thus his untimely death was a big blow to Ghana, and more especially his family and the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Speaking in an interview with The Chronicle, the former Vice President said he was deeply shocked and could not do anything than to stand in awe for minutes, immediately the news got to him about the death of the President.
“Even though I and many Ghanaians were aware that he was not well for sometime now, I least expected him to join his ancestors so soon. But all the same, I send my condolence to the Widow and former First Lady, Ernestina Naadu Mills, the entire family, the NDC as a party and all Ghanaians who are now in a state of mourning”.
Alhaji Aliu Mahama told The Chronicle that just as the New Patriotic Party’s Flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo had suspected his campaign activities as a result of the death of Prof Mills, he had also kept all his activities and meetings on hold, and at the time of speaking to the paper, he had joined other NPP families to pay a visit to the widow.
He, however, added his voice to the call for peaceful general elections, and charged Ghanaians to allow the virtues of the Late President as man of peace to permeate their conscience and to ensure that there was peace in Ghana during and after the polls.
Meanwhile, the demise of the President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Prof John Evans Atta Mills still remains a shock to members of the ruling NDC, opposition party members and other citizens within the Tamale Metropolis.
Several people, including government officials, motor riders, taxi drivers and party loyalists are still seen wearing red bands to signify their love, respect and loyalty to the Late President. Most government offices, including the Northern Regional Coordinat red flags and all street-lights in the Metropolis have been switched on since 3:00 pm on 24th July, 2012, till now.
The Chief of Tamale, Naa Alhassan Mahamudu Dawuni, said it was initially a rumour until around 5:00pm when the BBC and other radio stations in Accra broke the news through their affiliate stations in Tamale.
The Chief described the Late Prof Mills as “first class gentleman” and expressed his admiration of his humility and way of speaking.
The Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) for Tamale, Alhaji Abdulai Haruna Friday was also caught up by this paper in his office with red band around his neck, and surrounded by most of his honourable assembly members consoling him.
The Mayor told The Chronicle that he had had the opportunity to work with the late Prof Mills even before he became the President, and he eventually made him a mayor.
The Northern Regional Chairman of the NDC, Awudu Sofo Azorka in an interview with The Chronicle also said he was yet to accept the fact that the President was dead until he personally sees his corpse.
According to him, he spoke to the President few days before the news broke out and he was supposed to meet him at the Castle for some discussions towards the preparation of the NDC in the 2012 general elections.
The Tamale Metropolitan Manager of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Mohammed Adul Sallam almost broke down in tears, when he attempted to speak to this paper about how he took the news about the death of the late President.
He cautioned the NDC Communication Team members in the Northern Region to stay away from making comment on how activities would be outlined for the burial and funeral of the President until they are asked to do so by the National Executive Committee.
Upper East, Bolgatanga
Members of the public, including politicians of various political parties and their activists in the Upper East Region were lost for words to comment on the passing on of President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, reports William N-lanjerborr Jalulah from Bolgatanga.
Most residents in Bolgatanga, who were contacted to share their memories about the late President could hardly speak, except to say his death was a big loss to Ghana.
Business activities came to a halt in most parts of the city as both buyers and sellers sniffed for confirmation of the President’s death. One could hear some people shouting; “Oh! President Mills, why so soon?” Others asked why he should die at this crucial time, when Ghanaians have just five months to the elections.
It was extremely difficult to get to speak with the regional NDC executives because they were all shocked and dumb-founded by the death of the President, since they were not aware of his illness. When the Regional Youth Organizer, Mr. Robert Yeli-Oni was reached, he could hardly speak, except to say, “We are mourning”.
When she was contacted, however, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Regional Chairperson, Mrs. Agnes Asangalisa Chigabatia said “I broke down when I heard the sad news”. She said in the first place, he is a human being and secondly, he is the President of Ghana and not President of the NDC”.
Thirdly, he has died at a very crucial time when Ghanaians are preparing for the election.” Mrs. Chigabatia concluded by praying for the soul of the late President to have peace in the bosom of the Lord.
A visit to Atlantic base, the most popular sitting base of NPP supporters in Bolgatanga, saw members in a state of sadness. At the Regional Police Headquarters, both the police flag and the national flag were flying at half-mast, to signify the sadden demise of the Country’s leader.
Upper West
Residents of Wa on Tuesday evening gathered in small groups all over the township, discussing the sudden death of former President John Evans Atta Mills, reports Musah Umar Farouq from Wa.
The streets were unusually quiet as people stood in groups, wearing mournful faces and discussing the unfortunate and heart-breaking event. They expressed shock at confirmation of the news, while those who could not hold back their emotions shed tears.
Those who could not believe the story tuned into local radio stations, using their mobile phones to monitor live reports from partner radio stations in Accra, to confirm the news.
Speaking to The Chronicle, many residents were not happy that the death of the President was announced immediately, saying it could have been delayed for at least a day.
Mr. Abdul-Razak Mustapha, a business man described the death as “a sad day for Ghana” and appealed to Ghanaians to be mindful of utterances regarding the demise of the late law Professor and not to politicize the matter.
“We need to stand together and put our differences behind us at this emotionally difficult and challenging time,” he said.
Adams Fuseni, a lotto seller, said he was shattered by the sudden and unexpected passing on of the President. He said he could not believe the news because there was an earlier report by the various radio stations that President Mills was on a day’s return trip to Nigeria.
From Sunyani, Michael Boateng also reports that the news about the demise of Professor John Evans Atta Mills on Tuesday was received with shock and disbelief by residents of Sunyani and other parts of the Brong-Ahafo region, bringing business activities to almost a standstill.
Initially, it was taken to be another unfortunate rumour about the President’s health by some faceless persons, but this time the information compelled the doubting members of the public to get closer to their radio and television sets for confirmation.
The mood of the entire populace within the Sunyani Township changed suddenly after the death of Prof. Mills was confirmed, as people expressed total shock and dismay, particularly at the time where Ghana is preparing to go into another general election.
Prof. Mills’ demise was the main issue of discussion across the Sunyani Township, and in Taxis, drinking spots, shops, offices, restaurants and market places.
A visit to the Regional Offices of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) saw most of the party members and sympathizers rushing in to confirm or deny the death of the President, who is also the flag bearer of their party.
The forecourt of the regional headquarters was eventually turned into funeral grounds after the official confirmation of the death.
The late President’s demise seems to have calmed the political tension in the Municipality, because for once, The Chronicle observed that almost every Ghanaian, regardless of one’s political inclination were united in grief to mourn the late President.
The Regional Executives of the NPP yesterday visited the NDC regional Secretariat to express their condolences to the party for the calamity that has befallen them and the entire nation. The Regional Secretary, Mr. Alfred Ofori Annye noted that the death was unfortunate and the opposition party would join their NDC friends to mourn the departed President.
He explained that NPP took the decision not to talk for now in other not to give room for some people to read political meanings to whatever they say.
Mr. B.K. Ameyaw, Brong-Ahafo Regional Chairman of CPP, on his part said the demise of President Mills should unite the nation as one people, calling on every Ghanaian to set aside personal, religious and political difference to mourn the President.
He called for total support for the newly sworn-in President, John Dramani Mahama, so that he could continue effectively to lead the country to the desired destination.
The Municipal Chief Executive of Sunyani, Kwasi Oppong Ababio commended Ghanaians for exhibiting a true sense of unity to mourn the late President, saying “Ghana needs such an attitude and oneness to flourish in it development agenda”.
Volta Region, Ho
Correspondent Samuel Agbewode reports from the Volta regional capital, Ho, that the Municipality has been thrown into  a state of moaning following the announcement of the death of President John Evans Atta Mills, as most people were seen wearing red and black clothes and bands, indicating their sad moments of grief in almost every part of the Municipality.
The sudden death of the President had become a topical issue for discussion in the Municipality, as most of the people who spoke to The Chronicle expressed shock about the sad event, which is the first to be experienced by the country.
A businessman, Mr. Bazooka, said since he heard the news, the whole household started mourning and that he could not even eat. According to him, the last time he (Bazuka) personally heard about the President was when he went to the USA for medical check, and was very happy when the President came back looking healthy.
Madam Vida Adzotor, a business woman said God knows best by taking the life of the President at this crucial time in the history of the country.
Mr. Kafui Asem, a retired Communication expert and an elder of Tsito-Awudome at a meeting of traditional rulers at Awudome–Avenui prayed for the late President, after the gathering had observed a minute silence in his memory.
The Ho-East Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Raybon Evans Anyadi on behalf of the entire membership of the Ho East Constituency of the NPP and on his own behalf, expressed heartfelt condolences to the National Democratic Congress, the family and Ghanaians for the sudden death of the President, and prayed that his soul rest in perfect peace.

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