“It was his remarkable ability to stay calm and unruffled under pressure in addition to his other formidable gifts that set him on the path to national leadership,” he said.
The lecture was organised by the University of Cape Coast and Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration in furtherance of Professor Mills’ ideals and commitment to the advancement of law and governance in Ghana and across Africa.
It was on the theme: “Intellectuals in politics and governance: lessons and legacy of Professor John Evans Atta Mills.”
Vice President Amissah Arthur, Speaker of Parliament Doe Adjaho, Ministers of state, traditional leaders and the Nigerian community in Ghana were among the distinguished personalities who graced the lecture.
Dr Fayemi noted that Prof Mills “professorial mien often seemed to make him ill-suited for politics,” but added that he was personable and had a rare knack for making people feel at ease around him.
He said: “Though calm and unflappable, Mills could be passionate about his convictions and occasionally emotional.”
Prof Mills practised politics of civility and was typically courteous to colleagues and rivals alike, he added.
The former Governor also observed that Prof Mills eschewed, what he called, “intemperate jousting, discourtesy and ad hominem attacks” that many politicians favour.
“Mills preferred to dwell on issues rather than personalities,” he said; and was a great man who inspired many across the continent and beyond.
He quoted Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari as saying: “President Atta Mills was a good man; a very good man; one of the best from our continent.”
Dr Fayemi said governance was a knowledge-based, ideas-centred and data-driven enterprise with service to people as its sole motivation; that African leaders are expected to innovate and generate creative solutions to the challenges facing the continent.
“Our readiness to compete effectively in the 21st-century global economy is measured by…how much commitment we show to knowledge production and intellectual reflection in our political culture and leadership selection processes,” Dr Fayemi added.