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Atta Mills Presidential Library rotting away

BY: Timothy Gobah
The front view of the library
The front view of the library

The John Evans Atta Mills Presidential Library, a memorial and research facility in Cape Coast which was completed and inaugurated about three years ago, is rotting away.

The development stems from the resolve of the contractor who executed the project to hold on to the keys for alleged non-payment for work done.

“The keys are in my pocket; I will not release them until I am fully paid,” Mr Kojo Mamphey told the Daily Graphic in Cape Coast yesterday.

When the Daily Graphic visited the facility yesterday, it was firmly under lock and key, with flags of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and Ghana flying at half-mast on the compound.

The UCC security man at the gate would not answer any questions, saying that every question about the project should be directed at the authorities.

As a result of the proximity of the multi-million-cedi state-of-the-art facility to the sea, some parts had begun falling off, with the air-conditioners and pillars being eaten up by the sea breeze.

Nothing has changed

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Mr Mamphey, who had in the past complained of non-payment for work done, said nothing had changed.

“This situation is breaking my heart; I don’t want to talk about it again,” he said.

Appeals/disappointment

Meanwhile, appeals had been made by residents of Cape Coast and other members of the public for the library to be opened for it to serve its intended purpose.

During the sixth anniversary of the passing of Prof. Mills, the Oguaaman Youth Development Association mounted placards registering its disappointment at the continuous closure of the library.

Many placards were placed around the library, calling for its opening.

Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Did Prof. Atta Mills labour in vain?”, “Is this the reward for serving this great nation?”, “The library is critical to the intellectual development of the citizenry”, “Open the library for the honour and respect of Prof. J.E.A. Mills” and “Is the library for Prof. J.E.A. Mills an honour or a disgrace?”.

Ms Adjoa Adedzewaa, who was a cleaner at the facility, said she had lost her job due to the impasse among the stakeholders.

She was of the view that given its proximity to the Cape Coast Castle, the library could complement the tourist facilities in the region and, therefore, appealed to the government, the contractor and the UCC to resolve their differences and open the facility for the benefit of the country.

The library received a facelift and was decorated in the colours of Ghana and the USA to welcome Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo and Mrs Melania Trump, the First Ladies of Ghana and the USA, respectively, when the latter visited the Cape Coast Castle in 2018 as part of her two-day visit to the country.

Background

Former President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated the library on July 24, 2016 to coincide with the fourth anniversary of the death of President Mills.

On that day he had said: “This library should be the presidential library befitting the life of Prof. Mills as a renowned academic, sportsman, politician, President and peace-loving Ghanaian.”

It has a 100-capacity auditorium, a 45-seater multi-media centre, seminar rooms and a museum that holds historical materials that reflect the life and works of the late President.

The edifice also has a virtual sound room that echoes the voice of Prof. Mills in his memorable speeches and images that bring to life his sojourn as a celebrated academic, keen sportsman, humble politician, devout Christian, servant leader, President and peace-loving Ghanaian.

Although not a typical book library, the facility will preserve and make available the papers, records, collections and historical materials of President Mills and other prominent African intellectuals and political leaders.