Remembering Dr. Hilla Limann 25 years after his death
On the announcement of his death on January 23, 1998, the Washington Post reported it as “Hilla Limann, 64, who was ousted as president of Ghana in a 1981 coup after a brief rule, and who tried to reclaim the post in elections 11 years later, died Jan. 23 at a hospital here.”
He is reported to have died of a heart ailment.
Twenty-five (25) years on, Reporghana looks back on the life of Ghana’s only elected president in the third republic.
Who was Dr. Hilla Limann?
Former president Hilla Limann, who died at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, was born at Gwollu in the Upper Region in 1934.
Dr. Limann, a career diplomat, was born to Mr. Limann and Madam Hayaba. He had his elementary education at Lawra Confederacy Native Authority Primary Boarding School from 1941 to 1945 and the Tamale Middle Boarding school from 1946 – 1949.
He taught as a pupil teacher at Tumu for one year after receiving his standard seven leaving certificate. Dr. Limann entered the government teacher training college at Tamale and passed out with the teacher’s certificate “B”. At the college, he took part in local and district council politics. From 1952 to 1955, he served on the Sissala District Council as a local and district councillor, and he was the council’s chairman for two years (1953-55).
Dr. Limann studied at the London School of Economics from where he obtained his B.Sc. Economics. He also studied at Sorbonne University – Cours De La Langue Et De La Civilisation Francaise (School of French Language and Civilisation) and obtained a Higher Diploma in 1962.
From 1962-65, he studied at Faculte De Droit Et De Sciences Economiques (Faculty of Law and Economics) at Paris, France, and obtained a doctorate et Science politique et de droit constitutionnel (Doctorate in political science and constitutional law) in 1965.
From 1965 until January 1979, Dr. Limann was foreign officer. He was head of chancellery at the Ghana Embassy in Lomé from 1969-71. From 1971 to 1975 he was counsellor for the Ghana permanent mission in Geneva.
Dr. Limann was elected the presidential candidate of the People’s National Party (PNP), the successor of the CPP, for the 1979b elections.
He polled 631,559 votes (35.32 percent) in the June 18 elections to beat nine other candidates. He went into a run-off with Mr. Victor Owusu, the Popular Front Party (PFP) candidate who had 533,928 (29.86 percent) of the votes.
Read Watch Okyenhene Ofori Atta II’s shock to Kwame Nkrumah’s decision not to recognize him (WATCH VIDEO)
During the second round in July 1979, Dr. Limann convincingly beat Mr. Owusu to be elected president of the third republic. He was sworn into office on September 24, 1979, and took over from Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings and the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
He was plagued by internal squabbles in the party, leading to his overthrow by Flt. Lt. Rawlings on December 31, 1981. Dr. Limann formed the People’s National Convention (PNC) to contest the 1992 elections when the ban on political activities was lifted. He came a distant third to President Rawlings of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Professor Albert Adu Boahen of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Dr. Limann surprised many people when he stepped down for Dr. Edward Mahama as the presidential candidate of the party during the 1996 polls. He was in and out of hospital for heart ailment of over the past couple of years. Dr. Limann is survived by a wife, Fulera, and six children – Sibi, Sammoi, Hagommie, Leda, Danni-Hasi, Habuguwie.
You can also read this inspiring story of an encounter Dr. Hilla Limann once had with Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, below: