The one-week celebration of the late President John Evans Atta Mills was virtually turned into a political campaign when President John Dramani Mahama seized the opportunity to market himself and his political ambition.
At a well-attended celebration at the Efua Sutherland Children‚Äôs Park in Accra, President Mahama sought to woo the youth into voting for him in the upcoming elections since he had now become the flagbearer of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
In the course of his speech, Mr. Mahama noted, ‚ÄúGod has in his wisdom shifted the mantle of power to a new generation and I call on the generation of young people of this country to stand by me and let us show our fathers that we are ready to take over this responsibility and make a good job of it and that tomorrow when they are dead and gone, they will know that their children were well brought up; took over the responsibility and made sure that the nation Ghana continued to hold the pride of place in Africa.‚ÄĚ
He went a step further with a brief account about himself.
‚ÄúI was born in 1958. I‚Äôm the first president of this country to have been born in the nation Ghana after we attained independence; all previous presidents were born before 1957.‚ÄĚ
All this while, his right-hand man, Kwesi Seinti Baffoe-Bonnie, was seen urging the crowd to applaud in a very patronizing way.
Whilst admitting that President Mills‚Äôs death had placed what he described as ‚Äúa very heavy responsibility‚ÄĚ on him, Mr. Mahama appealed to the country‚Äôs teeming youth to rally behind him since ‚ÄúI cannot do it alone. I can only carry this responsibility if I have the support of the majority of the people of Ghana.‚ÄĚ
Even before him, speakers like former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Betty Mould-Iddrisu and Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, had set the tone for politics, eulogizing the president and touting his credentials.
In a tribute to the late president, a quivering Betty said, ‚ÄúProf, you may have left us but your spirit and your love will remain with us forever beyond December 2012 when we go forward in victory.
‚ÄúWe will see another inauguration; the inauguration of President John Dramani Mahama as the next president of Ghana.‚ÄĚ
In an unusual voice, Mr. Afriyie-Ankrah also eulogized his new boss, John Mahama, with sugar-coated words when he suddenly grabbed the microphone and showered praises on the new NDC standard bearer.
Present were the likes of Prof Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, formerly of¬† the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital Cardio Centre, Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa, Dr Nyaho Tamakloe of NPP and a couple of Ministers of State including the Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, Mayor of Accra, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, and some Metropolitan and Municipal Chief Executives.
Scores of Ghanaians especially supporters of the NDC, some of whom were ferried to the venue, were clad in mourning clothes with the inscription ‚ÄėS3 asa‚Äô, literally translated as ‚Äėit‚Äôs over.‚Äô
They sang and danced as the Army, the Police and the Salvation Army bands as well as the Wulomei and others provided music.
At exactly 2:15pm, the same time President Mills reportedly died a week ago, a minute‚Äôs silence was observed for him.
President Mahama also took the opportunity to preach forgiveness, noting, ‚ÄúWe have had our differences in this country‚Ä¶in our government and in our party. Those differences have resulted in harsh words being said to each other, but the good book teaches us that we must have a heart to forgive.
‚ÄúPresident Mills has paid the ultimate price for this country and I urge all of us in our country and in our party and in the family to find the heart to forgive. It‚Äôs not easy; it‚Äôs difficult but let‚Äôs find it in our hearts to forgive.‚ÄĚ
He appealed especially to the late president‚Äôs family, saying, ‚ÄúPeople would have said very harsh things to him; people would have vilified him but God says vengeance is mine,‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúit is not for us human beings to judge; God is the ultimate judge‚ÄĚ.
‚ÄúPresident Mills is dead and gone; let‚Äôs, in memory of him, forgive any hurt or any insults that were thrown at him and let us all collectively come together and mourn the passing of a great man,‚ÄĚ he said.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu