A flurry of activities has begun at the three principal locations that will host the late President John Evans Millsâs funeral activities from today to Friday.
Several members of the Funeral Planning Committee (FPC) were, yesterday, spotted at the venues frantically supervising the preparations for the biggest funeral ever organized in the history of the country.
On Tuesday, the Chairman of the FPC, Kofi Totobi-Quakyi, was seen by DAILY GUIDE at the Independence Square personally coordinating the set-up at the Square. The Independence Square will host the actual funeral ceremony on Friday, August 10, 2012 where world leaders are expected to attend.
However, reports from the diplomatic community indicated that envoys from the various foreign missions had not been properly briefed about the programme, wondering what information they could relay to their home countries.
President Millsâs spiritual godfather, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua (TB Joshua), arrived in the country yesterday for the event.
Mr. Totobi-Quakyi was conspicuously under pressure as he refused to talk about his assessment of progress made so far when quizzed by DAILY GUIDE.
His caution was also connected to recent media buzz aroundÂ him for revealing that the state burialÂ of late President Mills had not been officially budgeted for, hence the FPC was operating with a blank cheque.
However, Commodore Steve Obimpeh, a Senior Presidential Advisor and the man responsible for coordinating logistics on the grounds of the Independence Square, told DAILY GUIDE that the FPC was generally satisfied with the pace of work at the various locations, obviously because the preparations were being done with military precision.
The Military Band and the National Mass Choir were on Tuesday evening seen rehearsing frantically for the string of musical performances for the funeral.
At the forecourt of the State House (Parliament House), a frenzied state of construction was ongoing on the various stages that will seat dignitaries during the occasion.
Over 500 ushers were on hand at the State House undergoing strict drills about how to conduct themselves when ushering in the hundreds of dignitaries scheduled to grace the occasion.
By midday today, the body of the late president would be laid in state at the State House.
President John Dramani Mahama would be the first to pay his last respect to his predecessor. He would be followed by the Speaker of Parliament, Joyce Bamford Addo, Parliamentarians, members of the diplomatic corps and other dignitaries who would file past the mortal remains of Professor Mills.
No journalist would be given access to take snapshots of the inert body of the president in state.
According to Totobi-Quakyi, this measure was to prevent journalists from disrupting the free-flow of events.
Chinese Grave Diggers
By Friday, the corpse of the late President would be moved to the Geese Park Garden on the Osu Castle driveway where his final resting place would be.
On Tuesday evening, high-speed construction work was being undertaken by a group of Chinese contractors eagerly digging the presidentâs grave and constructing the mausoleum that would become a national monument for the departed president.
Earthmoving machines and bulldozers belonging to the Chinese contractor-whose name could not be readily ascertained, were digging and cutting out strings of walkways leading to the impressive Atta Mills mausoleum under construction.
According to the FPC, the site would eventually become the official presidential cemetery where all presidents would be buried.
The serene park, a few metres away from the presidency, is house to hundreds of geese that could be seen strutting freely around the cemetery area.
The scene at the Castle driveway merged perfectly with the black and red ribbons wrapped around all the trees on the curb.
A little reception centre had already been constructed adjoining the mausoleum to host future guests and tourists who would want to pay their respect to Ghanaâs dead presidents.
The capital city is awash with decorations, with streets being given a facelift at all corners.
Meanwhile, on principal streets and major market centres in Accra, the mood has begun to assume a heightened state of anticipation for the funeral as almost a third of all shoppers were donning black and red local cloths.
Shoppers inside the popular Makola market were practically scrambling over one another to get hold of particular fabrics dedicated to ex-President Millsâs funeral. Â A seller, Afia Nyantakyewaa, told DAILY GUIDE that sellers of the âSe Asaâ cloth were cashing in on the situation because the cloth was in high demand.
Four yards of the special fabric cost GHÂ˘40 on the average. âIt is a seasonal market and we are happy at the patronage,â Ms Nyantakyewaa told DAILY GUIDE.
On the streets, hawkers could be seen selling all sorts of funeral paraphernalia including red arm bands, red ribbons, black T-shirts emblazoned with pictures of President Mills, calendars, key rings, etc.
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Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Mumuni said several foreign dignitaries had confirmed their participation in the final funeral rites of President Mills, whose sudden death on Tuesday, July 24, 2012, shocked the nation to its core.
By Raphael Adeniran