Mr Henry Romulus Sawyerr, alias Harry Sawyerr, has died at the age of 87. An astute politician and chartered surveyor, Mr Sawyerr died on Thursday morning.

Harry Sawyerr
Harry Sawyerr

He was a former member of the Council of State, former Minister of Transport and Communications, former Minister of Education and former Member of Parliament.

He resigned his position as Vice-Chairman of the Council of Elders of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) days before he turned 87.

Mr Sawyerr has, over the last six decades, distinguished himself in the areas of politics, nation building and private practice as a chartered surveyor.

He was decorated with the highest honour of state, Companion of the Order of the Volta, by the late President J. E. A. Mills.

The citation accompanying that honour read: ?As Minister of Transport and Communications, he will be remembered for introducing into Ghana TATA buses for public transportation, procuring at his own expense the first conveyer belt for the Kotoka International Airport and securing ships for the Black Star Line in a bid to resurrect the company. He was also instrumental in the setting up of the FCUBE, the Best Teachers Award Scheme and the Distance Education Programme.?

His residence at Labone is usually a beehive of activity, as it is constantly populated by his children and many grandchildren who are doted on by Mr Sawyerr and his industrious, loving wife, Mrs Esther Sawyerr.

Indeed, their home has been a safe haven for many.?

He was a firm disciplinarian, a homely but strict family man, selfless and dedicated, both to home and nation, and the output of his strong family values and demand for the best in his children were reflected in President John Mahama?s Deputy Chief of Staff, Dr Valerie Esther Sawyerr, who served in the same position under the late President Mills; Mrs Olive Yeboah, a Manager at UT Bank, and Dr Angela El-Adas, the Director-General of the Ghana AIDS Commission.

Mr Sawyerr was appointed valuer for the Kumasi City Council in 1962 and a year later became the first African to be appointed Chief Federal Lands Officer for the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His hard work, dedication and planning excellence endeared him to many in the Nigerian politburo and business class.

Before joining the city council, Mr Sawyerr had served in various capacities between 1953 and 1962. Those included working as a probationer with the London County Council Valuation Department while studying at the London University College of Estate Management and later with the Lands Department in Accra and Kumasi.

He was the first President of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors between 1970 and 1972, and between 1971 and 1977 he was the Organiser and Convener of the Association of Recognised Professional Bodies.

He was also an External Examiner in Rating Valuation for the Department of Land Economy at the then University of Science & Technology (now KNUST).
In 1990, prior to becoming a Minister of Education, Mr Sawyerr became the first Chairman of the Executive Council of the University of Ghana Medical School and since then he had been sponsoring prizes for graduating medical doctors of the Ghana Medical School.

After the 1981 coup d?etat he, in the company of others such as the late Peter Ala Adjetey, was incarcerated at the Nsawam Prison for more than three months and later released when no wrongdoing was found against him.

He subsequently joined the NDC and was elected National Vice-Chairman of the party. He chaired the National Campaign Committee in 1992.

He was appointed Minister of Education between 1993 and 1997 and during that period reformed the ministry and the Ghana Education Service to a great extent.

One of his major hallmarks was ensuring punctuality to work. He was instrumental in setting the framework for the attainment of the FCUBE programme as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution, establishing the Best Teacher Awards Scheme and the Distance Learning programme.

He was appointed to the Council of State in 1998 and served till 2000.

He was an ardent football enthusiast and staunch Accra Hearts of Oak supporter. He was a Life Vice-Chairman of Patrons and became Life Chairman of Patrons.

He won five trophies for the club in the 1980s when he was called upon to take charge of the management of the club and save it from further decline.?

His contributions had not only been financial but also inspirational.

It was said by some die-hard fans that his home was a must-visit after matches on Sundays because food and drinks were prepared and served to the technical and playing body and any supporter who visited the house.

Source : Daily Graphic/Ghana

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