Ladies and Gentlemen!
Today, we recognise not only Professor Mills, but also our Founder, Jerry John Rawlings, and also our former Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, who have since passed away.
I invite you to pay a minute’s silence for their souls. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
We are all gathered here, at the Asomdwee Park, today – as citizens, family, friends, sympathizers and members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) – to celebrate the life and legacy of President Professor John Evans Atta Mills.
Prof., as we all fondly called him, is our departed hero and inspiration who continues forever to live in our hearts and minds.
Nine years ago, even the heavens themselves displayed the ominous signs when the skies, which were previously bright, suddenly darkened as though about to rain. A gripping cold enveloped the whole nation.
Yes, it was a Tuesday afternoon. Our nation was in shock when news came through confirming the unprecedented event of the death of our sitting President, Professor John Evans Atta Mills. It is a tragedy we all pray would never befall our nation ever again.
Nine years have passed but anytime we celebrate the anniversary of his departure, we are reminded of the values and principles he extolled and lived-by: a Leadership of Service, Compassion, Integrity, Humility, Sacrifice, and Unity.
Nine years ago, his family lost a God-fearing, devoted father, brother and husband; our country lost a priceless gem, a true servant leader; Africa lost an exemplary illustrious son, the NDC lost a torchbearer, and I lost not only my superior, but a friend and mentor.
Although his Presidency was unexpectedly short-lived, his legacy and record remain unmatched in the annals of our nation’s history. I am honoured to have played a humble part as his Vice President and Head of the Economic Management Team.
He was a team leader and it was under his guidance that the NDC administration chalked most of its notable achievements, including the longest period of single digit inflation in the history of Ghana for two years continuously, the highest economic growth record of 14.4%, placing Ghana at the top of the World Bank ease of doing business survey for West Africa, making Ghana the number one preferred destination in West Africa for investors.
This was not all. Every sector of our national life, including education and health received massive boost and growth, particularly through investments in socio-economic infrastructure and human resource development.
Yet, being the humble achiever that he was, Prof. in tandem with the tradition of the NDC, derived no satisfaction or desire to reel off his unmatched economic statistics in self-praise, when his work was there to speak for him.
He was more concerned with seeing to the upliftment of the socio-economic circumstances of the people of Ghana so they could live in dignity and prosperity, irrespective of where they were coming from or belonged.
Yes, he was a father for all!
Indeed, as a social democratic party founded on modesty and not bragging, it must be obvious to all sincere minds that only the party that achieved that feat knows what it takes and can take the country to those heights again.
The leadership of President Mills, together with the hardworking and resourceful team in government, gave our nation a blueprint of excellence- the NDC, having laid a strong socio-economic foundation, would utilize in its next government in service to the people of Ghana and in honour of President Mills.
President Mills demonstrated that one could rise to the highest positions in life – Professor, scholar, expert in his field, and President – and still be a humble learner.
Power never changed him. He changed the direction of power by giving it back to the people whom he led and saw as key partners towards the realization of an open and transparent government. His ultimate aim was to achieve a better Ghana of shared prosperity for all.
Like an open book, he was transparent and saw as important, the need to account to the people of Ghana. He respected Ghanaians. Professor Mills was passionately concerned about wastefulness, profligacy and arrogant dissipation of public funds and resources. He didn’t just espouse his principles; he lived by them.
His strong abhorrence for corruption energized and encouraged anti-corruption agencies to come out and expose all persons found to have been involved in the canker in every strata of society. He saw anti-corruption campaigners and activists as partners in the fight against corruption rather than enemies of the state.
President Mills strongly abhorred politics of insults. He saw politics as a contest of ideas and was constantly concerned about the need for leaders to be proper role models to the younger generation who are keenly watching and may end up emulating the actions of the political class.
Unfortunately, he was attacked viciously by opponents even when he was unwell, but the NDC has continued to live by his tolerant nature.
It is imperative that we, as members and sympathizers of the NDC, continue to be guided by the values of truth, humility, transparency and accountability that are exemplified in Professor Mills.
I lived it, and while some, including from within our party will criticize me for it, I believe that our politics must be a platform and opportunity to ensure total development and a general improvement in the lives of the Ghanaian, and not an opportunity for wickedness, trampling on the rights of your people, the destruction of businesses of perceived political opponents, pushing the parochial interests of your family and friends, etc.
It is especially critical for the survival of our nation that the NDC as a social democratic party restores these values and principles that have been lost in our country in order to be distinct from the NPP, and above all, in order that our people can begin to hope again and trust in our institutions once again.
In closing, as we are all gathered here in celebration of this great icon, I wish to paraphrase the eternal words of the incomparable bard, Shakespeare, who noted centuries ago that the memory of heroes like Professor Mills will never fade as it is etched on our hearts.
Centuries will come and go, and monuments will rise and fall, but your name and memory, Prof., will last throughout the ages.
Long live your memory, long live the NDC, long live Ghana.