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Opinions of Sunday, 14 January 2007

Columnist: Quaye, Rikard

The Man of Peace's threshold of History

Perhaps the most well known verse in the Bible, John 3, 16 states thus; "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life".

What that verse captures for all who believes, is the accent on the fact that our God was willing to give up what was dearest to his heart, so that earthly man shall be saved.

Whilst this writer is in no way making any attempt at deification whatsoever, there is a striking correlation between that verse and the recent history of another man whose name also happens to be John. Professor John Evans Atta Mills or "Uncle Fiifi" as he is affectionately known was thrust upon the history of this nation rather unwittingly, when he was surprisingly chosen from a list of would be Vice President nominees after the then President parted ways with his Vice President.

As unexpected as the events of those fluid times were, Uncle Fiifi?s transformation from technocrat to politician was seamless and he quickly settled in his new role as a Vice Presidential candidate with consummate ease, helping propel ex-President Rawlings to another victory at the polls.

With the job managing the economy for the next 4 years firmly thrust upon his shoulders, Uncle Fiifi took to the task like a baby to breast milk and gave off his utmost. It therefore came as little surprise to anyone when he was nominated to carry on the mantle of ex-President Rawlings at the 2000 election.

Despite the prevailing sentiment in the country at the time that the NDC had outline its welcome and the then opposition?s very successful characterization of Atta Mills as a man who would be puppeteered by an ex-President wishing to live vicariously through him, Atta Mills campaigned assiduously to obtain his own mandate. He wasn?t helped by malcontents within his own party, who held the view that he was an upstart, and had not been part of the 'coca nostra' from the beginning, and as such he did not deserve to follow in ex-President Rawlings' larger than life" footsteps.

Needless to say, with all these extenuating circumstances conspiring against him, not to mention the complicity of our international donors and certain diplomats, Atta Mills lost a cliff hanger to Kufuor.

"Asomdwehene" Atta Mills spent the next 3 years trying to transform the NDC from a mechanized autocracy formed in government to a dynamic grassroots party, one that could adapt to the changing faces of a more politically aware electorate, who were beginning to realize the inordinate amount of power their thumbs carried.

He spent a lot of time going from village, constituency to enclave with a small entourage to personally press the flesh and present himself to the people first hand. He contested and won the nomination for the NDC again in the 2004 elections, amidst voices of dissent from within a fracture of the party headed by the Chairman of the party.

His breakthrough came surprisingly in the 2004 elections, when after campaigning with a budget one twentieth the size of that which his opponent and incumbent President, he won a surprising 45.2% of the vote. So surprising was his performance that the ruling government and its pollsters who were predicting a wipeout were forced to backtrack, put their champagne back in its cartons and hurriedly scurry to proclaim themselves winners of an election that was far from over.

Today, gathering from what we know, it is quite possible that he actually won the elections, and yet the gentleman in him conceded, because he believed that the Republic to which he so much wanted to offer his service was bigger then him, and to avoid the bloodshed and uncertainly that ran parallel with disputed elections. He rescheduled his moment in the sun to fight another day. He did this so as to ensure that there would indeed come another day, and that the nation he so loved would not fragment at his behest.

Let no one get it twisted, it was not an easy decision for him, but it was a necessary one; a decision he took because he recognized that his desire for service, even if it were ambition, should not hatch into a dangerous obsession.

That moment defined the man John Evans Atta Mills!

When most in his party urged him to fight the probability that the elections had been rigged, he steadfastly refused, contending that providence will see him the victor. He went back to what he had so skillfully done in the years preceding the election, rebuilding his party!

That single act of bravery cemented his character in the hearts of so many Ghanaians, and not just NDC sympathizers his name was forever etched in the hearts of Ghanaians as the man who chose not to go the way of other Africans like Charles Taylor, Allessane Ouattara, Fodey Sankoh and other who would rather se their countries splinter into the hydra-headed beast of conflict, social strife and civil war than give up their ambitions for presidential power.

Today as the NDC once again nominate their talisman to fight the 2008 elections, John Evans Atta Mills has carved out his own stature among the Ghanaian electorate. He has put together an image of a listening, honest and sincere man of peace whose will to succeed cannot be dimmed by name calling from a very nervous government and an affiliated press that sees the writing on the wall.

He is this country's most popular politician by a mile and a half, because he hasn?t been tainted by the canker of corruption, greed, nepotism, avarice and the kleptocratic tendencies that are the images of our leaders in government today. His journey has been hard, it has been arduous, sometimes it had been hardly worth the risk to his life and that of his family, but through it all, Uncle Fiifi has been propelled by his modest upbringing, his fear of God, and his determination to serve his people and give back some of what he has been a beneficiary of.

As he gears up to seal his fate and win back the presidency for his party, Uncle Fiifi must now take control of the NDC and make it his party. He must be seen to be in control. Oddly enough, for a man who was threatened with political obscurity and an unyielding spirit that is at first glance at variance with his perceived persona, if you believe what political pundits have been writing for a while now.

The rancour that preceded the NDC's last Congress was the final piece of the puzzle that fell into place for him. With the departure of the fractions wing led by the former chairman, there are less formidable power blocks within the party for Atta Mills to contend with. He had made the NDC his own the hard way. He started from a point at which the NDC was essentially a political postscript footnote; he has transformed it back into a winsome party and he now straddles the threshold of one of he most remarkable political achievements in the history of this nation's presidential politics.

Today, the ever gracious Asomdwehene has an existential paradox to contend with. Is he going to remember the unsavory piffle of those who doubted his ability or is he going to regale himself with the mantra of peace and bring on board all those who have a positive contribution to make whether they opposed him in past or not?

The answers are already billowing in the smoke of his acceptance speech at the just ended Congress. The man of peace has invested his mettle in accentuating his own vision for his party. He was won the intellectual debate, he has won the hearts and minds of his party and indeed the country at large, and he will not leave anyone behind, whether you opposed him in the past or not. He has held out a hand of reconciliation to all splinter factions of the party because he believes that nothing less than total victory is good enough for the NDC come 2008. He is aiming for a first round demolition job, and he will not accept to lead a splintered party.

Ghanaians are in most part looking to him for salvation from the woes of the last 6 years and are waiting with baited breath for his leadership.

They have collectively crossed their fingers in anticipation of a better Ghana under a man who has been there, done that and whose credentials as an honest hardworking John is unquestioned.

Now that the nomination process is over and the NDC has its preferred man; Let peace reign within the corridors of the great umbrella. Let peace herald the threshold of the greatest politically story of our time, the prince of peace has metamorphosed to become the king of our hearts. Atta Mills is truly in his element and this time, he would not be denied!

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.