Why do I say so, Mr Speaker? Mr Speaker, it is common practice and knowledge that when some leaders bring some matters before this august House, the tendency is to push that agenda through.
But with President Mills, if there was a matter before this august House and his attention was drawn to the fact that there were other legal, constitutional or other administrative concerns associated with that matter -- whether a Bill, a loan agreement, an Instrument, et cetera, he would say “if you have those challenges, have it withdrawn and then clean it and bring it back to the House.”
I can recall the STX Agreement had to be withdrawn and brought back to this House. I can recall the CBB Loan Agreement, at some instances, had to be withdrawn and brought back to this House. This was somebody who listened to people; this was somebody who respected the opinion of this august House; so, he was a listening President.
Mr Speaker, I would want to take this opportunity to put on record that we as Ghanaians, love our leaders; we loved President Mills and then we love leaders who are listening people. We love leaders who are humble and we love leaders who are God-fearing. It is against this backdrop that following his death, we all came together.
The positive thing about us Ghanaians is that, when there are challenges facing us as a nation, we rally together. We put back our political differences, our idiosyncrasies and then come together as a country and then as one people. This was discerning during the time President Mills, unfortunately, died and during the time of his funeral.
I say this because Mr Speaker, with regard to this august House, on that fateful day of 24th of July, 2012, when the Leadership of this House's attention was drawn to his demise, around 3p.m. or thereafter, I was called to the Castle and told that under the constitutional provision and the rest of them, we should see how we could summon the House to swear in the then Vice President John Mahama as the President of Ghana.
We came back and met the Hon Minority Leader, fortunately, he is still acting as the Hon Minority Leader-- and the leadership of the Minority Caucus. We came back, discussed and by the evening --[Interruption] -- Mr Speaker, by the evening of that same day, we had met as a House in all our numbers and swore in the then Vice President John Mahama as the President of the Republic of Ghana, at a very short notice. And that was because of the understanding and co-operation that both sides of the House had for each other and the will of the people of this country.
Mr Speaker, following that, I recall when he nominated the then Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Paa Kwesi Arthur as his Vice, you could appreciate or recall the hullabaloo -- “Oh, do not vet him”; “oh, vet him in camera”; “he is the number two man in the country”, this and this and that -- We as a people, particularly in this Chamber, came together and said collectively that we did not need to undermine the legacy of the late President Mills.
The spirit that had prevailed during his funeral will be the spirit that must prevail in this House. So, we said, by the Constitution, by the Standing Orders, we will give a public hearing of him, but we will do it professionally and in that same spirit.
Mr Speaker will recall that when he was then the First Deputy Speaker and Hon Chairman of the Committee, the vetting of the then Vice President was very professional and I commend Hon Members of the vetting Committee and the entire Members of this House who were then in Parliament and all Ghanaians for the support and the professional manner in which they did it.
That was a legacy that we Ghanaians owe to President Mills and this is how we have been demonstrating it.
Mr Speaker, I know that we are lucky that President Mills died in office. I am saying this not to provoke any debate or sentiments. But I recall that the first President of the Republic of this country died in exile and that was unfortunate. The Prime Minister of Ghana in the Second Republic, Dr Busia also died in exile and that was unfortunate for Ghana.
Dr Hilla Limann, the President of the Third Republic, even though he died in the country, but also under ignoble circumstances because of a coup d'état that did not last. But President Mills had done three and a half years in office. He could have concluded the four years and God willing, he would have come back as a second-term President.
I am making this point because it is important that we appreciate his legacy. We appreciate that we owe those who have led this country, who have served this country a great deal. Hon Members of Parliament appreciate the sacrifices they are making for their constituencies. If you are making sacrifices for one consti- tuency, what about the person who had made sacrifices for this entire country? He is owed a lot.
Fortunately, we have our two surviving Presidents -- President John Jerry Rawlings and President John Kufuor still alive. I think we should treat them well; we should respect them; we should honour them until they depart this world, to show that we do not respect those who are dead only when they were in office but we respect people who have been in office and are still alive. We owe them a duty and that Ghanaians have a duty to show respect and dignity to them.
Let me conclude, Mr Speaker, by saying that a lot has been said about the late President Mills' humility, his under- standing and the rest. But I think there is one other aspect of his life that I should indicate, following my close association with him. That he was very frank and full of conviction. If he was committed to something, he prosecuted it.
I say so because I remember in 2011 or thereabout, I was going to the Castle in my capacity as the Leader of the House to join him to receive American Senators and Legislators. And when we had the working lunch with them, they raised the issue of gay rights, whether Ghana should not pass a law to legalise gay rights.
The President told them point blank that as far as he remained the President of the Republic of Ghana, he was not going to paddle a Bill to Parliament to legalise gay rights. He said that and somebody would say, “Eh! You are saying this to the United States of America, the policeman of the world and the rest of them; how are you able to do that?” But he was bold and he was firm. And this is the President Mills whom we have lost.