Nation mourns Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey

BY: Kobby Asmah & Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson
The late Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey

The immediate past National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey, is dead. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, who is one of Ghana’s finest statesmen, died at a hospital in London at dawn Sunday after a protracted illness.

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The type of illness was not immediately made known but it would be recalled that there were social media speculations in December last year that he had died when, in actual fact, he was receiving treatment in South Africa.

A leading figure in advertising and marketing, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, who was born on February 4, 1946, had a rich political history. His father, Mr Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, was a member of the Big Six who delivered Ghana from the shackles of colonialism.

Few hours after his death, tributes started pouring in on media platforms from political personalities and institutions


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Messages of condolence ­

The flag bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, described the demise of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey as a tragedy.

Addressing worshippers of the Power Chapel in Kumasi yesterday, Nana Akufo-Addo eulogised the former NPP Chairman and called on the congregation to observe a minute’s silence in his memory.

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"On my way here today, I got some very bad news and I have to share it with you. A man who has been a life-long friend of mine — we grew up together, our fathers worked together for Ghana; they were part of the people who gathered in Saltpond on the 4th of August 1947 to establish the UGCC from where began our struggle for freedom and independence.

"He has been a life-long supporter of our party's tradition and values. Recently he has not been well and was flown to South Africa and later to London. This morning, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey went to our Lord," Nana Akufo-Addo said to a grief-stricken congregation.

At Obetsebi-Lamptey’s residence

The atmosphere at Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey’s residence in Accra Sunday was one of quietude as leading NPP stalwarts trickled in in turns to commiserate with the family.

As of the time of leaving the residence at 4:20 p.m., Mr Paul Awentami Afoko and Mr Sammy Crabbe were there to commiserate with the family.

Although they did not meet any family member, in a terse statement to the press, Mr Afoko said: “Personally, as the one to whom he handed over his gavel, I will sorely miss Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey.”

He said “ever since I became National Chairman of the NPP, he has given me counsel privately and the benefit of his experience as the immediate past National Chairman of the NPP”.

He described Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey as a great statesman who won the admiration of the party and the country at all times.

Earlier, according to a security man at the residence, a former Vice-Chairman of the NPP, Mr Fred Oware; the acting General Secretary, Mr John Boadu, and a former General Secretary, Mr Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, had been there too.

Efforts to speak to the occupants of the house proved futile, as the security man informed the Daily Graphic that a daughter of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was the only person in the house and that she would speak to the media at the appropriate time.

It was gathered that Mr Obestebi-Lamptey had travelled to London with his wife to seek medical attention.

Kufuor shocked

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor also expressed profound shock and sadness at Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey’s demise.

He described Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey as “very professional in his field of Public Relations and Advertising” adding: “He conducted serious matters with a relaxed mien and charm, was affable and had a great sense of humour. He was a good man.”

 “Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was born into the Danquah-Busia tradition and stayed true to its tenets throughout his adult life.  The party has lost a pillar and Ghana a true son.

“The party must be in mourning and his death must be a period of deep and sober reflection for all NPP members. It should help in our efforts at reconciliation and unity which are principles for which Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey stood. May he rest in peace,” the former President said in a statement signed by his Spokesperson and Special Aide, Mr Frank Agyekum.

NPP flags at half mast

In a related development, the NPP has asked party officials to fly all party flags at their offices nationwide at half-mast as the nation “mourns this great man of our party and country”.

In a statement, the acting General Secretary, Mr John Boadu, described Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey as a man who did not only serve his party selflessly and diligently but also helped in nation building.

“Indeed, a true son of the nation and the Great Elephant family has passed on; a great pillar has fallen,” it added.

Meanwhile, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has commiserated with the NPP on the passing away of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey.

"In all honesty, contemporary Ghanaian political history cannot be written without the mention of Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey and we pray the Good Lord finds a peaceful resting place for his soul," a statement signed by the party’s General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, said.

According to the statement, the sad news of the passing of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey had hit the NDC very hard in the heart

It expressed the party’s heartfelt condolences to the immediate and extended families of the late former Chairman of the NPP and also commiserated with the NPP in this moment of grief.

Relatedly, former President Jerry John Rawlings and Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings have also learnt of the sad demise of Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey.

In a statement, they expressed their deepest sympathies to his family and asked God to give comfort and peace at this difficult moment to the family.

“May the soul of your beloved Jake rest in peace,” it said.

Brief Profile

Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey led the NPP to victory in the 2000 and 2004 elections as the National Campaign Manager. The 2000 elections saw the first constitutional (civilian-to-civilian) transition of power in the country.

He served in various ministerial positions in the Kufuor administration and led the NPP in the 2012 general election but the party lost.

He was at first the Chief of Staff and later Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations in the Cabinet of President Kufuor.

He also served as Minister of Tourism and Modernisation of the Capital and Minister of Information.

He resigned his post but failed in July 2007 to win the NPP nomination for the 2008 presidential elections.  

Fact sheet

Advertising”, adding: “He conducted serious matters with a relaxed mien and charm, was affable and had a great sense of humour. He was a good man.”

 “Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey was born into the Danquah-Busia tradition and stayed true to its tenets throughout his adult life.  The party has lost a pillar and Ghana a true son.

“The party must be in mourning and his death must be a period of deep and sober reflection for all NPP members. It should help in our efforts at reconciliation and unity which are principles for which Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey stood. May he rest in peace,” the former President said in a statement signed by his Spokesperson and Special Aide, Mr Frank Agyekum.