President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) are all grieving over the death of their party stalwart Lawyer Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, affectionately called Sir John in Ghanaian politics.
Sir John was reported to have died Wednesday night at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital for reportedly battling with the deadly respiratory disease, COVID-19.
Until his passing at age 67, Sir John, was the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, and of course, a party kingpin by all standards.
He also, with distinction, served the party in various capacities at all levels culminating in his election as the NPP General Secretary, a position he held from 2010 to 2014.
In a sorrowful tribute, President Akufo-Addo said, “I received the news of the death of Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, aka Sir John, with great shock and deep sadness.
“The disbelief and grief expressed by many at the news of his death are testimony to how people, in and out of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), felt about him”.
President Akufo-Addo described Sir John as a “passionate devotee of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia political tradition, outstanding stalwart of the NPP, strong defender of human rights as a lawyer, proud, faithful adherent of the Christian Adventist faith”.
According to him, “These were the multi-faceted aspects of the career and character of ‘Sir John’, which earned him considerable renown both as erstwhile General Secretary of the NPP and CEO of the Forestry Commission”.
President Akufo-Addo said Sir John was, “Energetic, ebullient, jovial, with an exceptional sense of humour, and possessing a limitless store of folktales and proverbs, he affected positively every person with whom he came into contact”.
He acknowledged that Sir John “was truly unforgettable, and our party and government owe him an immense debt for his work and commitment.
“My wife Rebecca and I extend our deepest condolences to his entire family. Sakora Wonoo has lost a valiant son. He will be widely missed”, adding, “May the Good Lord bless him, and give him a peaceful place of abode in His Bosom until the Last Day of the Resurrection when we shall all meet again.
“Sir John, we will never forget you!!”
Sir John was a good man-Bawumia
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia also paid tribute to Sir John, describing the departed Forestry Commission Boss as a people’s man.
In a tweet, Dr Bawumia said, ” Sir John was a good man who truly paid his due to the Party. I will miss him. Rest in peace my good friend”.
He expressed his heartfelt condolences to the family.
“I spoke with Sir John only yesterday but little did I know that was our last conversation,” the Vice President stated.
The NPP said it received with profound shock and disbelief, news of the passing of one its leading members, Sir John, which sad event occurred at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
A statement issued by NPP’s General Secretary, John Boadu has extended its condolences to the bereaved family and party’s fraternity for the loss of the man general described as “people’s man”.
“The party is indeed saddened by his passing, and accordingly, extends its condolence to his immediate family particularly his wife and children for this incalculable loss.
“The NPP equally commiserates with his close associates in the party as well as workers of the Forestry Commission and indeed the rest of the nation for the loss of such a great national asset.
“As a mark of respect in honour of his memory, the NPP directs that all party flags at the National Headquarters and in the respective Regions and Constituencies be flown at half-mast for the next seven days.
“May the soul of our dearly departed find comfort in God’s bosom and may the family he left behind and indeed all of us in the party and beyond find fortitude to bear this great loss. Damerefa Due!!!”, the statement concluded.
Ayikoi Otoo’s testimony
Ghana’s High Commissioner to Canada, Lawyer Ayikoi Otoo has given a vivid testimony about the man Sir John.
“I met Sir John at the University of Ghana in 1976 and were mates from Law Faculty to Ghana School of Law after which we and the 1981 Class were called to the Ghana Bar. We went our separate ways. I into private practice in Accra, he first as a public servant and later in private practice in Kumasi. Our paths crossed as leading members of the NPP and later in 2013, became my most famous client together with Hopeson Adorye, in the celebrated Election Petition case, when I represented both of them, charged with Contempt of Court.
“As General Secretary of the NPP, he was phenomenal and complex in his ways but had very simple habits. He was free with everyone and never showed any pomposity.
“He was very sarcastic and made light work of many issues. Everyone knows his media encounters and how quickly, he described himself as a village boy.
“As CEO of Forestry Commission, he saw to the implementation of the government’s policy in Youth In Agriculture and Afforestation with the recruitment of over 60,000 JHS, SHS and University Graduates who were otherwise unemployed. Many can attest to the assistance he offered to them during the period.
“He was bold and confident and a devout 7th Day Adventist Elder.
“I can’t find words to describe my loss but suffice it to say, aside myself and the Elephant family, many Ghanaians will sorely miss him. He has now been elevated to practice in the high courts above.
“We commit the souls of his family members who went before him and ask the Almighty for strength for his wife and children. Father don’t let his good works be interred with his bones but let them become visible in the sands of history. A Lawyer, an astute Politician, Christian, a Family man and a mentor to countless number of persons.
“At 67 he has played his part. His dreams have faded and his supporters are distraught but God knows best.
Sir John was a jolly good fellow, kind hearted and fits the words of Shakespeare “that his life was gentle, and the elements so mixed up in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world “This was a man”.
May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest and abide in the bosom of the Lord until the day of the resurrection.
Sir John, Yaawɔ ojogbaaŋ!!