President John Evans Atta Mills has announced a state funeral for Mr Edward Kojo Salia, MP for Jirapa, who died earlier this month, describing him as a person who left a legacy for the nation.

“We received the news (of his death) with great sadness. We knew for quite some time now he was not well, but we did not expect the good Lord will call him soon,” the President said, when a delegation of the family, Members of Parliament and chiefs from the Jirapa Traditional Area, in the Upper West called on him at the Castle, Osu in Accra, to formally inform him of the death and funeral of the late legislator, who also served once as a Minister of Transport and Communications in the late 1990’s.

The funeral of the late MP would be held on March 20 and 21, 2009 at Chepuri, near Jirapa in the Upper West Region, family spokesman Prof. Bruce Banoeng-Yakubu, announced.

President Mills traced his links with the late Mr Salia to the 1970s when the late legislator happened to be his student, adding that, they both later served in 1997 under the then Rawlings Administration.

President Mills said Mr Salia was one of the people he considered for running Mate in the 2000 elections, and recalled the unflinching support he had from the late Mr Salia in the run-up to the 2008 elections.

The President expressed regret at the death of Mr Salia, and extended his condolence to the widow, Mrs Mary Asunta Salia, the family, the Jirapa Na and the people of Jirapa Area.

President Mills said he had agreed jointly with the leadership of Parliament to give a State Burial to the late Mr Salia, who he described as a good friend and good patriot, who sacrificed his life for the progress of Ghana.

“Edward was a hero, and we will mourn him, and give him a fitting funeral,” the President said.

Vice President Dramani Mahama eulogised Mr Salia for his pioneering role in the deregulation of telecommunication in Ghana, saying he would be remembered as the “father of modern telecommunication in Ghana.”

He said the late MP came under a lot of attack during the pioneering days of telecommunication deregulation exercise, but the presence of cell phones even in rural areas was as a result of the efforts of Mr Salia.

On his human relations, the Vice President said Mr Salia bore no malice against anyone.

In a related development, the family of the late Edward Salia, called on the leadership of Parliament to formally inform the House of his death.

The delegation was led by Ganaa Anssoleh II, Paramount Chief of Jirapa in the Upper West Region. Ganaa Anssoleh was known in private life as Mr Peter Nanfuri, former Inspector General of Police (IGP).

The delegation also included traditional rulers from Jirapa, the children and widow of the late Salia, Mrs Mary Asunta Salia; Mr Mahmud Khalid, Upper West Regional Minister and the MP for Nadowli East, Mr Mathias Asoma Puozaa.

The Second Deputy Speaker, Professor Mike Oquaye who received the delegation on behalf of the leadership described the late Salia as a devout Christian who distinguished himself as an MP and a Minister.

“He was humble, selfless and respectable person and died in action serving his people.”

Prof Oquaye assured the family of Parliament’s support and that a committee has been set up by Parliament to liaise with the family to give the late Salia a befitting burial.

The Majority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin said the late Salia was an experienced MP and that it was unfortunate his death would deprive new Members of Parliament of his knowledge of the work of the House.

He described the late MP as “a calm person who served the nation with distinction.”

The Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the late Salia “was a friend, a partner and a perfect gentleman.”

He described the late MP, as a profound debater in Parliament and his death would create a vacuum in the House.

Source: GNA