The Deputy General Secretary (Operations) of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Koku Anyidoho, has described the closure of the John Evans Atta Mills Presidential Library, a memorial and research facility in Cape Coast, as extremely sad and unfortunate.
The library has been closed down due to lack of funds.
Reacting to the story on the closure of the facility in yesterday’s edition of this paper, Mr Anyidoho, who is also the Founder/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Atta Mills Institute, said the facility belonged to the state of Ghana and was meant to be a centre of academic excellence and learning and that was why it had been attached to the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
Mr. Anyidoho said it was for very good reasons that the library had been cited close to the Cape Coast Castle so that the numerous tourists who visited the castle on a daily basis would also visit the library.
He said interestingly, this year would be seven years after the passing on of Professor Mills and that the UCC would host the sixth in the series of the late President’s memorial lectures.
“It is sad that the library is being left to rot. That facility has the capacity to generate a lot of income on its own if managed well and also if you consider the number of tourists and the number of educational facilities and senior high schools within the metropolis and neighboring communities who could take advantage of the facility,” he lamented.
He said if the UCC and the New Patriotic Party(NPP) administration could not run the facility, “I will run the facility to tell the story of Atta Mills, as well as the history of the country’’.
According to him, considering the facilities such as the conference rooms, an audio-visual center, lecture theatres, as well as the rooftop terrace, it was not a place that must be allowed to run down.
He said the late former President Mills was a teacher, a lecturer, a professor and an educationist who always believed in academic excellence and education and that “some of us would not allow his legacy to be destroyed’’.
Currently, the UCC which is responsible for the administration of the library has not been able to pay the water and electricity bills of the facility.
To make matters worse, the contractor who worked on the project is said to have locked up the place and taken the keys away, denying the university access to the two-story building situated opposite the Cape Coast Castle.
President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated the library on July 24, 2016, to coincide with the anniversary of the death of President Mills.
The library has a 100-capacity auditorium, 45-seater multi-media center, seminar rooms and a museum that holds historical materials that reflect the life and works of the late President.
The edifice also has a virtual sound room that echoes the voice of Prof. Mills in his memorable speeches and images that bring to life his sojourn as a celebrated academic, a keen sportsman, politician, devout Christian, servant leader, president, and a peace-loving Ghanaian.
Although not a typical book library, the facility will preserve and make available the papers, records, collections and historical materials of President Mills and other prominent African intellectuals and political leaders.
The Vice-Chancellor of the UCC, Professor Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, said he had a discussion with the Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who agreed that there must be a budget line for the edifice.
“The library in memory of the late President is a good idea, but sincerely the university cannot run it,” he said.
Prof. Ampiah said even as the facility was not being used, the university last month received a water bill of GH¢3,000. He told the Daily Graphic that when the facility was handed over to the university, a few things were not in place.
“So we demanded that those things must be put in place and they were done. But when it was eventually handed over to us, there was no budget for it,” he said.
Prof. Ampiah said the electricity meter at the facility was prepaid, but all efforts to change it to postpaid had not been successful, as the District Office of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) declined the proposal.
He said at one point, the university wanted to use the facility for a day’s programme and the ECG demanded that it paid GH¢300 for that period.