Former President Jerry John Rawlings on Friday paid tribute to the late President John Evans Atta Mills as follows:
“My earliest memory of John Evans Atta Mills was as a sportsman at Achimota School.
“Though Prof, as I preferred to call him, served in several institutional capacities during my tenure as Head of State, close contact was renewed when he was nominated and subsequently confirmed as Vice-President when the NDC won the December 1996 Presidential elections.
“Professor Mills was an outstanding Vice-President, gifted with an excellent retentive memory and served his role with full merit.
“He had an excellent sense of punctuality, which can best be described as non-Ghanaian.
“Having won my respect and admiration, there was no hesitation when I had to nominate him as Presidential candidate for the NDC.
“Prof had often presided over cabinet, as Vice-President, so I sought the opinions of the ministers to confirm if they thought he was good enough to be President and the response was overwhelming.
“Against strong opposition, some from within the party, I stood by the Prof and gave him full support after the electoral misfortunes of 2000 and 2004 because I was convinced he had the capacity to be an excellent President, having excelled as Vice-President.
“Prof, you came into office with your dignity and integrity intact.
“I do recall some of the night briefings you used to give me, especially after cabinet meetings and how I insisted you stand your ground when a few errant appointees attempted to test your integrity.
“A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the hard fought electoral victory of 2008. While many may perceive my criticism of the Prof as ill conceived, I was not going to look away while a man with such great potential was led astray from the ideals that we fought for; from the ideals that the NDC stood for.
“We waged a stout political campaign in 2008 and those who really cared for the Prof deserved to speak the truth to help him succeed as President.
“My final meeting with Prof before he passed away was on Thursday July 5 at the Castle.
“During our meeting we expressed our mutual respect for each other as was always the case and news of his departure on July 24 came with cold pain.
“Fare thee well Prof. Damirifa Due”.