July 29, 2013

Member of Parliament for North Tongu in the Volta Region, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has paid a glowing tribute to the memory of late president John Evans Atta Mills.

Next week Wednesday July 24, 2013, marks one year of the passing of Prof. Mills, which occurred at the 37 Military Hospital, in Accra.

Presenting a statement on the floor of Parliament on Friday, Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa who is also a Deputy Minister of Education, described “Prof. Mills’ reverence for Parliament as exceedingly significant”.

Read the full statement statement read in Parliament by Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa.


Mr. Speaker,

I am grateful for the opportunity granted to make this important statement in commemoration of the first anniversary of the shocking and painful loss of our departed beloved former President His Excellency Professor John Evans Atta Mills.

Next week marks exactly one year when this nation was drowned in tears and grief at the news of the sudden passing of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills that cold Tuesday the 24th of July, 2012. It was the first time in Ghana’s history that a sitting president died in office.

Prof. John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills, was born on 21 July 1944 at Tarkwa in the Western Region of Ghana and hailed from Ekumfi Otuam in the Mfantsiman East Constituency of the Central Region.

He began his illustrious academic journey by attending the Huni Valley Methodist Primary School and Komenda Methodist Middle School respectively. He subsequently attended Achimota Secondary School, where he obtained his General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced Level in 1963. He then attended the University of Ghana, Legon, where he received a bachelor’s degree and professional certificate in Law (1967).

A world class scholar; Prof. Mills studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science where he obtained an LLM in 1968. While earning a PhD in Law from the prestigious School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London, he was selected as a Fulbright scholar at the equally prestigious Stanford Law School in the United States of America. At age 27, he was awarded his PhD after successfully defending his doctoral thesis in the area of taxation and economic development.

His contribution to intellectual development is remarkable having lectured at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana for close to 30 years and authored numerous publications including:
Taxation of Periodical or Deferred Payments arising from the Sale of Fixed Capital (1974)

Exemption of Dividends from Income Taxation: A Critical Appraisal (1977)
Report of the Tax Review Commission, Ghana, parts 1 – 3 (1977)
Ghana’s Income Tax Laws and the Investor (1978)
Ghana’s New Investment Code: An Appraisal (1993)
Prof. Mills was also a visiting professor at Temple Law School (Philadelphia, USA), Leiden University in the Netherlands and at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Prof. Mills’ expertise transcended the lecture room:

He was a member of the Ghana Stock Exchange Council.
In 1988, he became the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service of Ghana and was named national tax commissioner in September 1993.
He also held examiner positions with finance-related institutions in Ghana, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Bankers, and Ghana Tax Review Commission.

He served on the Board of Trustees of the Mines Trust.
He was a member of the Management Committee of the Commonwealth Administration of Tax Experts, United Nations Ad Hoc Group of Experts in International Cooperation in Tax Matters and United Nations Law and Population Project

He led a study on Equipment Leasing in Ghana.
He chaired the casebook preparation on Ghana’s Income Tax.
He oversaw the Review of Ghana’s Double Tax Agreement with the UK.
Prof. was also a distinguished sportsman and sports administrator: he played Hockey and was a member of Ghana’s National Team and later the Veterans Hockey Team. He also played Football and was a reputable swimmer as well. The Ghana Hockey Association, the National Sports Council of Ghana, and the famous Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club remember him as an administrator par excellence.

On the political scene; Prof. Mills first emerged as running mate to President Rawlings who was seeking re-election for a second term in office. They overwhelmingly won the 1996 election and Prof. Mills became Vice-President of Ghana from 1996 t0 2000.

Between 2001 and 2008, Prof. Mills became the defacto opposition leader and earned an enviable reputation for decent politicking and accepting election results without fomenting trouble. He soon became affectionately known as the Asomdwehene, to wit, King of Peace.

On January 7th 2009, Prof. Mills was sworn in as the third President of the fourth Republic.

He was until his untimely death the presidential candidate for the National Democratic Congress for the 2012 presidential election setting a new record in challenged presidential primaries winning by an impressive 96.7%.

Mr. Speaker, We must take pride in ourselves for dropping our partisan robes by collectively and soberly paying our last respect to President John Evans Atta Mills, as well as giving him a befitting and dignified State burial.

This Parliament and indeed all Ghanaians ought to be commended for the smooth transition which has been hailed globally especially as we were in unchartered waters.

As he rests peacefully in the bosom of the Almighty, I have no doubt that he would be thankful to us for the maturity, dignity and peaceful manner by which we managed affairs.

Mr. Speaker, Prof. Mills’ reverence for Parliament was exceedingly significant. He attended to his constitutional obligations to this august house with deep commitment. It is to his legacy that the Job 600 project meant to house MPs was restarted.

He also mooted the idea of constituency offices which was piloted in a few constituencies before his untimely departure. His decision to offer to this house its first female Speaker for consideration in the person of the competent Right Honourable Joyce Bamford Addo has been lauded not only by gender activists across the divide but by all political watchers who are impressed with our former speaker’s contribution to Ghana’s Parliamentary democracy.

Mr. Speaker, Indeed the governance record of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills is unprecedented as he himself once famously remarked. During his relatively short 3 and half year tenure: Ghana’s economy grew by an unprecedented 14.4% in 2011.

Cocoa Production hit an unprecedented 1 million metric tonnes, inflation remained at an unprecedented single digit for the longest period ever under the fourth republic, he extended national electricity coverage from 54% to an unprecedented 72% – touching the lives of Ghanaians in 1,700 communities. Prof. also led Ghana to negotiate its biggest loan package of $3 billion from China – another unprecedented feat.

In other departments, President Atta Mills gave Ghana the University of Health and Allied Sciences in the Volta Region, and the University of Energy and Natural Resources in the Brong Ahafo Region.

The elimination of thousands of schools under trees, the construction of new classroom facilities at various levels of the educational strata, the distribution of over 100,000 laptop computers, the introduction of the Mathematics Science and Technology Scholarship Scheme; are all lasting testimonies to his great efforts at giving more meaning to education.

President Atta Mills re-equipped and re-tooled the security agencies; making it possible for, The Military, The Police, The Fire Service, Immigration, The Prisons Service, CEPS, etc, to have a new lease of life.

In the health sector, the upgrading, and virtual reconstruction of the Tamale Teaching hospital and the establishment of numerous health facilities cannot be forgotten.

His impact on our good governance architecture by commissioning a review of the 1992 Constitution and submitting himself to unfettered questions from journalists once every year in the Castle is worth noting.

Mr. Speaker, Prof. Mills had an unshakable belief in the Ghanaian youth. Having been a lecturer most of his life, and i know many of us here were his students and are his products; Pof. was obviously not in doubt of the capacity and promise of the Ghanaian youth.

He went beyond tokenism and proved that if the Ghanaian youth is given the right support and guidance, we can excel. Prof. deserves all the credit he has been accorded for composing a government made of a useful blend of old and youth. Ghana’s democratic future is all the richer for this.

Mr. Speaker, on the international stage, Prof made all Africans proud. The international community couldn’t resist his democratic credentials and his remarkable wisdom on world affairs. His stature in global diplomacy was to be seen by his ability to rally his peers in ECOWAS and the African Union to pursue common objectives including convincing them to support Ghanaian candidates for various international assignments.

A more permanent evidence of this humble Pan-Africanist’s clout amongst his peers is that well-deserved giant golden statue of his mentor and idol – Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah which now stands at the forecourt of the new African Union Building in Addis Ababa bearing the inscription “Donated by the Government of Ghana and unveiled by H.E. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, President of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and Chairperson of the African Union, H.E. John Evans Atta Mills, President of the Republic of Ghana and H.E. Dr. Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Addis Ababa, January 28, 2012.”

Mr. Speaker, I take cognisance of the fact that time will not permit me to list all the achievements of the late President Mills; history and time will properly tell the story of this selfless African icon who dedicated his entire life to bettering the lot of all Ghanaians. Already, one is beginning to lose count of the honour being done his memory by the naming of numerous projects and edifices after Prof.

I can immediately recall: the Accra High Street renamed John Evans Atta Mills High Street by an Accra Metropolitan Assembly resolution, a street linking Cape Coast Castle to Mfantsipim Junction renamed President John Atta Mills Street by the Paramount Chief of Cape Coast, Omanhene of the Oguaa Traditional Area, Osaberema Kwesi Arthur, The New Millennium City School at the Salvation Army Cluster of Schools renamed President John Evans Atta Mills Educational Centre of Excellence, An ICT Centre built at Prof. Mills’ alma mater-Huni Valley Methodist Basic School, while the University of Ghana, Legon, recently named its new Faculty of Law building after Prof. Mills and Prof. Akua Kuenyehia.

The Chief Justice and the Judicial Council of Ghana has also named its largest to be court complex after Prof. Mills in acknowledgement of what the Chief Justice described as “a true democrat who respected the independence of the Judiciary and worked to promote it.”

Mr. Speaker, The International Institute of Education (IIE) in New York has posthumously bestowed on Prof. Mills its highest award – The Fritz Redlich Alumni Award in recognition of his distinguished career and exemplary leadership that increased cooperation and understanding between Ghana and the world, and his resolute support for advancing education to prepare an entire generation in Ghana for today’s competitive, globalized economy and to honour him as the first ever Fulbright Scholar to become the Head of State of an African nation by becoming the President of Ghana.

Again Mr. Speaker, Prof. Mills has also been posthumously awarded the highest prize as the 2012 Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize Laureate on Democratic Governance and Development in Africa. According to the Prize Committee, the award was in recognition of his genteel disposition, virtues, devotion and commitment to the enhancement of good Democratic Governance and Development in Ghana and Africa at large.

Mr. Speaker, beyond the physical structures that Prof. left behind and will be remembered for, It is my considered view that perhaps his most enduring legacy would be his exceptional style of tolerance, modesty, sincerity, humility, decency, sacrifice and non-vindictiveness by which he plied his trade of politics.

He was a true statesman and a man who had deep respect for the people he served no matter their views or persuasions. He may go down in history as the most vilified and taunted President both from within and without his own political party and yet he was the one to smile to all, to embrace all, to love all and to bear grudge towards none.

He was a true father for all who imbibed in us a true sense of patriotism. We remember him for his remarkable punctuality and sense of urgency. We will forever miss his presence; his candour; his compassion; and his great sense of humour.

Mr. Speaker, May I finally commend His Excellency President John Dramani Mahama for setting up a commemoration committee chaired by the distinguished former Minister for National Security, Mr. Kofi Totobi Quakyi. Indeed our heroes and role models ought to be constantly remembered hence I wish to entreat honourable members as we take a deserved break and also all Ghanaians to endeavour to participate in the activities that the committee has publicly outlined.

May the Good Lord continue to grant the soul of our dearly beloved President Mills eternal rest, and may the peace of the Almighty be with his family especially his widow Dr. Ernestina Naadu Mills and son Sam Kofi Mills.

God bless our homeland Ghana and continue to endow us with such great men.

I thank you Mr. Speaker.