Dr Omane Boamah: A great peaceful African democrat – John Evans Atta Mills
Ten years ago we lost a great peaceful African democrat when he was President of the Republic of Ghana. John Evans Atta Mills graduated with merit with an LLM from the London School of Economics and was awarded a Ph.D. in law at the School of Oriental and African Studies at age 27 in the 1960s.
His passing left Ghanaians in a spontaneous outpouring of tears for weeks because he provided compassionate and selfless service to Ghana.
He loved and played several sports in addition to his academic achievements, taught many of Ghana’s top legal luminaries, rose from an internationally renowned tax practitioner to senior tax administrator for the Internal Revenue Service, became Vice President and President of the Republic of Ghana. .
Above all, through the changing seasons of life, he died having lived up to his name as “A Man of Peace – The Asomdwehene.”
President John Evans Atta Mills is that man we have celebrated every July since his passing on July 24, 2012. That terrible Tuesday, I was a very young man in a meeting (chaired by the late Captain Kojo Tsikata (Rtd .)) with very experienced men who had gathered in the office of the late PV Obeng at the National Development Planning Commission.
We met regularly every Tuesday afternoon to plan the re-election of President Atta Mills. The 2012 election was just four clear months away. When his aide called me with the terrible news, and I relayed it to my senior colleagues, the room froze momentarily.
Still, with Captain Tsikata’s guidance, we managed to organize a smooth transition later that night.
I remember President Atta Mills for several reasons.
Without violating my Hippocratic oath, I remember how protective and secretive he was about his health. One day, as I entered his office at Osu Christianborg Castle with him after a meeting, the professor asked, “Omane, I have to go to the United States for medical examinations; What do you think?” I hesitated a bit.
I assumed he was more worried about the mincemeat his political opponents would make from his time away from Ghana. And they did. But my answer was one and only – from a professional point of view first and then political. “Professor, you must go; we will take care of their wrongdoing.
I also remember his relentless and selfless quest for socio-economic development to ensure “A Better Ghana” for all Ghanaians, not just a few privileged citizens.
In doing so, he not only added to the gains of his predecessors, but also gave due recognition to their efforts, in particular, to make Ghana’s oil dream possible.
In his first State of the Nation address, this peace-loving African democrat, President Atta Mills, graciously declared:Madam President, Kwame Nkrumah laid the foundations for oil and gas development in Ghana. Jerry John Rawlings created the institutional framework for his operation. Oil and gas were extracted in commercial quantities during the time of John Agyekum Kufuor. Actual commercial exploitation begins in the days of John Evans Atta Mills. In the meantime, others have played their part…”
Moreover, I remember how he achieved unprecedented growth in the Ghanaian economy (over 14% of GDP) in 2011. More importantly, this astronomical growth was not solely driven by oil revenues.
According to the Ghana Statistical Service, non-oil GDP in 2011 (at 2006 constant prices) was 8.2%. That is, the relative contribution of the non-oil sector was greater than the impact of oil on the unparalleled GDP recorded by the NDC administration of Atta Mills.
Clearly, he was putting Ghana on the path to avoiding Dutch disease so that crude oil would not hurt Ghana’s economy.
In the health sector, I remember Atta Mills for critically considering emergency health care and distributing 160 new and additional ambulances nationwide to augment health care services. In addition, he initiated many policies and infrastructure projects in health, education, communication and transport.
The scope of the achievements of this great African democrat is vast. Internationally, President Barack Obama of the United States duly recognized him for having significantly improved democracy in Ghana; and along with Mo Ibrahim and three others, Columbia University’s Journal of International Affairs listed Atta Mills as one of the “Five Faces of African Innovation and Entrepreneurship.”
In Ghana, many Ghanaians loved him and named him ‘Asomdwehene’ (King of Peace). In 2014, President Mahama – who, in Atta Mills’ own words, was a man, “in whom he was well pleased” – led his cabinet to name the second floating production, storage and offloading vessel ( FPSO) of Ghana after John Atta Mills to ensure the actual production. of First Oil in commercial quantities.
After the 2012 election, we issued commemorative postage stamps in honor of Atta Mills on World Post Day. His brother Dr Cadman Mills joined me at the Ghana Post headquarters near John Evans Atta Mills High Street (also named after him) in remembrance of Atta Mills as “…a humble man who loved his country…”
Similarly, the Judicial Council revered his high regard for the independence of the judiciary and named Ghana’s most modern court complex after him, and the University of Ghana also named the building of the Faculty of law in honor of professors Atta Mills and Akua Kuenyehia, a former dean.
President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, a great peaceful African democrat, continues to rest well in the Lord.
Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah
Former communications minister and health policy planning and financing analyst.