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PV Obeng, an admirable unifier and tireless public servant - Mahama

BY: Daily Graphic

Tributes have started being paid in memory of the late Paul Victor Obeng, the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), who died suddenly on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Obeng, who was the Senior Presidential Advisor, is said to have died of what is suspected to be an asthmatic or heart attack.

He was reported to have collapsed behind his steering wheel at the Agape Filling Station on the Spintex Road and was rushed to the Inkoom Hospital at the Coastal Estate, from where he was referred to the LEKMA Hospital at Teshie in Accra, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

An attendant at the Agape Filling Station told the Daily Graphic that about 2.05 p.m. last Saturday, after he had finished serving a taxi, a Land Cruiser, with registration number GM 3705-13, pulled up.

The attendant, who gave his name as Nana Yaw, said the occupant of the Land Cruiser started making frantic calls, while trying to open the front door of his vehicle. 

According to the attendant, the occupant who was later identified as Mr P.V. Obeng, looked helpless, a situation which prompted him to call for help.

Nana Yaw said the taxi driver he had served moments earlier assisted in conveying the man to the Inkoom Hospital at the Coastal Estate. 

 

Tributes

In his tribute, President John Dramani Mahama, described the late Obeng as an “admirable unifier and tireless public servant”, reports Kwame Asare Boadu from the Flagstaff House.

“We have lost a tireless public servant, an admirable unifier and a giant of our political landscape over the past 30-plus years,” he said in a statement issued yesterday.

Mr Mahama said of the man he also labelled as a trusted advisor: “He was  a passionate nationalist and patriot, full of practical ideas, solutions and optimism for the good of Ghana and Ghanaians.”

“I have leaned on him many times for advice, guidance and support. He was always there to bring his vast experience, institutional knowledge and great connections across many sections of Ghanaian society to bear on any challenges we have faced,” he added.

The President recalled the effective role Mr Obeng played in ensuring the success of the just-ended National Economic Forum.

“Just last Thursday at the National Economic Forum in Senchi, he was ebullient, forward-looking and full of vigour, as he offered his wise counsel throughout the proceedings and to the conclusion of that important event.

“With his affable, jovial and engaging manner, you could always count on him to bring some unique perspectives into discussions," he added.

 

Rawlings 

In his tribute, former President J. J. Rawlings said the late Obeng was one of Ghana’s most adept and captivating minds.

In a statement, the former President said PV, as the late Obeng was affectionately called, played significant roles in the country’s socio-political development from 1979 till his unexpected demise.

“As a politician, technocrat and professional, he paid his dues in diverse ways and his loss is a national loss. He had his imperfections but he was still a rare gem of a man,” the statement added.

 

Kufuor

In his reaction to the news of Obeng’s death, former President John Agyekum Kufuor said he could not believe his ears when reports of his passing reached him.

"We will all die one day or another... Every death shocks, but this particular one is perhaps more shocking than normal," he said.

He recalled that only last week he had shared a joke with Mr Obeng in Kumasi, saying for his death to come so sudden was hard for him to accept.

"He was a good person; very bright, intelligent and industrious, and in spite of the fact that our politics didn't agree, we were friends.

"From where I stand, I believe I can say that he was a leadership chamber within his party — from the PNDC era to the NDC. He was a very intelligent, capable leader. He contributed to our public life. That's the legacy he left behind," the former President said.

 

Nduom

The Founder of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, in his tribute, said Ghana, in its current state when there was a desperate need for the good counsel of statesmen and women, would miss the late Obeng.

A post on his facebook page said: “He will be missed, especially this period in our nation when we need unity of purpose and when we have a desperate need for statesmen and women to step forward and pull all our efforts in the same direction.”

Dr Nduom remarked that Ghana had lost one of its long-serving public servants.

He recalled that he was not present in the country “when he (Obeng) was with the PNDC administration. I knew him post-PNDC and, to me, he was a kind, civil and hardworking person”.

 

Reactions

News about the death of Mr Obeng, 69-year-old mechanical engineer, statesman, politician and advisor in both residential circles and the Good Shepherd Parish of the Catholic Church, started making the rounds between 3 and 4 p.m. last Saturday, Rose Hayford Darko and Benjamin 

 

Xornam Glover reports from Tema.

When the Daily Graphic got to his house at Tema Community 2, it was obvious that there were dark clouds hanging around.

Some of those present were in mourning clothes trying to hold back their tears, while others looked disappointed.

There was police presence to maintain peace and order.

It was all about group discussions as to what had led to his death, with some sympathizers standing outside the house.

The Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive, Mr Isaac Ashia Odamten, and his predecessor, Mr Kempes Ofosuware, were among the first people to call at the house.

Mr Ofosuware told the Director General of Police Operations, COP John Kudalor, and his team on their arrival that family members had left for the hospital to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the information.

 

Good Shepherd Parish

Mr Obeng served in several capacities in the Good Shepherd Parish of the Catholic Church at Tema Community 2 where he worshipped.

He initiated the founding of the Christian Fathers Guild in the church and served as an advisor to the church.

The mood at the Good Shepherd Parish yesterday was rather solemn.

Some members of the church who spoke to the Daily Graphic described Obeng’s demise as a bad loss not only to the congregation but also Ghana, considering his contribution to national development.

Mr Isaac Offei, a member of the parish, said the news of Obeng’s death a day before the service had terribly affected the mood and tone of worship.

“He worships with us regularly and is a strong pillar behind this church. We will miss his contributions to church growth and development,” he said.

 

Other positions

Mr Obeng was also the Chairman of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Council.

An accomplished politician with long years of service, he was appointed in 2010 as the Chairman of the NDPC in the late President John Atta Mills administration.

He was the chief consultant and Chairman of OB Associates, a public and private sector consulting firm, and Chairman of the Ghana Agro Food Company (GAFCO).

He served as the Chairman of the Committee of Secretaries in the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime from 1982 to 1992.