Hundreds pay last respects to Amissah-Arthur

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu, ACCRA
The body of the late former Vice-President Amissah-Arthur laid in state at the Accra International Conference Centre
The body of the late former Vice-President Amissah-Arthur laid in state at the Accra International Conference Centre

In a national outpouring of grief, hundreds of people from far and near came together yesterday to bid farewell to the late former Vice-President, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, on the first of his two-day state funeral.

Mr Amissah-Arthur was the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) before he became Vice-President after the death of President John Evans Atta Mills.

One after another, family members, politicians across the divide but mostly from the National Democratic Congress (NDC), religious leaders, academics and other dignitaries paid their last respects.

As they got closer to the bier, they took a bow in a show of respect before walking away from the foyer of the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) where the body laid in state for public viewing.

A delegation from the BoG, led by the Governor, Dr Ernest Addison, arrived about 10 a.m. to file past the body.


Some NDC heavyweights, including the Ahwoi Brothers, Dr Sipa Yankey, Dr Kwesi Botchwey and Mr E.T. Mensah, as well as national executives of the party, were also there.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and former Presidents John Dramani Mahama, John Agyekum Kufuor and Jerry John Rawlings will take their turn to file past Mr Amissah-Arthur’s remains this morning, before a memorial service at the forecourt of the State House and burial at the Military Cemetery at Burma Camp in Accra.

Eulogies were not delivered, as they were reserved for the memorial service today.

Participation

Hailed by many as a decent politician and gentleman extraordinaire, economist, academic and politician, Mr Amissah-Arthur, the fifth Vice-President of the Fourth Republic, died on June 29, this year at the age of 67, after collapsing as he worked out at the Ghana Armed Forces Gym in the morning of that day.

Yesterday, the AICC was a sea of black and red, the traditional mourning colours.

Also prominent were the red, white, green and black colours of the party on whose wings Mr Amissah-Arthur flew to become Vice-President.

His political allies who saw him as a towering figure in the NDC described his death as a big blow to the party.

A Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Koku Anyidoho, said Mr Amissah-Arthur’s death came as a shock to the party, especially at a time when the man was neck deep in the reorganisation of the party.

“He was an extraordinary mobiliser, father and unifier; it is an irreparable loss and we are here to pay our last respects,” Mr Anyidoho said in a chat with the Daily Graphic.

Modesty

Mr Amissah-Arthur’s widely acclaimed modesty was extended into his journey into eternity. His remains, which were placed in a simple casket draped in the national colours, arrived at the funeral grounds in a hearse accompanied by police dispatch riders about 6.30 a.m.

Military pallbearers in white gloves carried the casket to the foyer, where it was laid in state for mourners to file past.

With moving hymns from the Methodist Hymn Book being played in the background, many could hardly hold back their tears.

His widow, Matilda; his 90-year-old mother, Madam Efe Amissah-Arthur, and other family members were among the few who sat inside the foyer.

Many other mourners were seated under canopies erected at the forecourt of the AICC.

Some roads in the national capital were closed by the police to ensure free flowing traffic to the funeral grounds.

Two large posters bearing the images of the late Veep adorned the frontage of the AICC, with soldiers and policemen placed at various points to maintain order.

Profile

Born in Cape Coast in April 1951, Mr Amissah-Arthur was educated at the Mfantsipim School and the University of Ghana, graduating in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Economics.

He was granted a University of Ghana Post-Graduate Scholarship in 1975.

In 1980, he was awarded a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Economics and lectured at the Economics Department of the university for a number of years.

He also lectured at the State College of Education, Akyab in the Anambra State of Nigeria, from 1981 to 1983.

In July 1983, he served as Advisor to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and was appointed a Deputy Finance and Economic Planning Minister in February 1986, a position he held until April 1997.

After retiring from public office in 1997, Mr Amissah-Arthur continued to work on a number of consultancy jobs.

He was appointed Governor of the BoG on October 1, 2009.

On August 6, 2012, he was sworn in as Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana and served in that position until January 07, 2017.

A soccer enthusiast and great fan of Accra Hearts of Oak, he was said to be the second biggest shareholder of Accra Hearts of Oak.

The former Vice-President was a Christian by faith and was married to Matilda and the marriage was blessed with two children.