Former President John Dramani Mahama has described late President John Evans Atta-Mills as an "honourable and dignified statesman whose love for his country and his people was without question."
For him, Prof. Atta-Mills was a "phenomenon best felt than described," he posted on Facebook on Sunday, July 24, 2022.
Narrating events prior to his death at a launch of John Evans-Atta Mills Memorial Heritage in commemoration of the 10th anniversary since the passing of Prof. Mills, Mr Mahama said President Atta-Mills was supposed to travel to Nigeria on the day he died.
Prof. Mills died on July 24, 2022. He was the first sitting President in Ghana to have died while still serving his term.
Narrating the events that took place before the death of President Atta-Mills, Mr Mahama said on the said day, he [Mahama] had been alerted that he would be asked to act as President because Prof. was likely to travel to Nigeria. He said he was alerted by the Secretary to the President, Sir James Bebaako Mensah.
Similarly, Mr Mahama said he was again informed by Prof. Mills' Secretary that Prof. Mills had requested specifically that "I stand in for him at the official launch of the Brand Ghana Project, which was to take place at the International Conference Centre. I attended that function with the Chief of Staff, Mr John Martey Newman."
He said, "Upon our return to the Castle, which at that time was still the seat of government; as I proceeded to my office, I asked Chief of Staff, Martey Newman to inform Prof. that I was going to cross over and see him to discuss a few important issues after meeting a former President who was waiting in my office."
According to Mr Mahama, "moments after our return, the Chief of Staff called me frantically and said that Prof had been rushed to the 37 Military Hospital in an emergency. I wrapped up my meeting with the former President and prepared my staff to rush to the hospital. It was then that Sir James Bebaako Mensah entered my office, [and] delivered the devastating news, Prof dead? How? How can Prof die? Were the questions I asked. The world came to a standstill."
For him, when the news of Prof. Mills' death got to him, it broke him down, saying "Nothing in my political life and experience had prepared me for a moment like this. The shelter I have been working under Prof had been a wonderful experience. His death left me in trepidation of stepping up to the plate, realising the huge responsibility one was stepping into and that the back was going to stop with me, and no one else."
He added, "The swearing in ceremony was a blur and I struggled to complete my acceptance speech without breaking down in front of a sorrowful nation. When I left the podium, I missed my way back. I went and sat back in my Vice Presidential seat until the uproar from the MPs reminded me that I had sworn the Presidential oath and should move to the ceremonial Presidential seat. The rest is history to be narrated at another appropriate time."