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Opinions of Thursday, 24 November 2005

Columnist: Abdul-Rahman

Assessing the Candidacy of John Atta Mills

Elections: An Advice for the National Democratic Congress (part I).

As the days go by so are we closer to the December 2008 when Ghanaians will head to polls again to decide which party and candidates assumes the mantle of political office in our dear country. Like the 2000 elections, election 2008 will be another historic elections in our nations short but interest history. It will another election which an incubent President will not contesting because he tenure of office is expired. 2008 will be interesting and unique in that it is very unlikely that a seating vice President will be contesting on the ticket of his party. Names of presidential aspirants are begining to surface from the quarters of the two leading parties in Ghana (NPP and NDC). In a recent Ghana web pool, although not scientic, Ghanaians were asked to sellect among a list of presidential hopeful or party members (since some of the individials in list did not declare their intentions to contest the NPP primaries) will be their preferred presidential choice. Nana Akufo Addo emerged the most preferred candidate for the NPP.

Presidential hopefulls from the two major political parties have already start preparing their electoral war machines as the count down to the party congresses begin. In a recent new item post on Ghana web, people associate with the former vice president and two times NDC presidential candidates of the NDC have started throwing the challenge to Mr. John Mahama, the MP for Bole and one of NDCs presidential contenders. According the news item, Mills supporters have asked Mr. Mahama to go and join the Nkrumaist parties if he has any presidential ambitions since the Presidential candidacy of the NDC has already been decided. This is one of the most ridiculous assertion this writer ever heard. In fact this writer commends Mr Mahama for not given in to such childishness. When the reporting news paper contacted him for his comments he refuse to comment and by so doing treated the bluff with the utmost contempt it deserves. As an NDC fan if not a fanatic, I think two things must made clear to the Professor Mills camp, the honourable professor is neither a defacto or a dejury presidential candidate of the NDC. There is a process of electing such candidate and I entreat the Mills camp to respect the process and desist from making such inflammatory comments. Comments that will go a long in increasing passion within party as a result derail the party's clear chances of clinging victory from the incumbent party 2008. In todays Daily Guide some NDC members of parliament have already started sending signals of resentments to the Mills camp. Any attemp to impose him on the party as the presidential candidate for the 2008 election will met with sour test from some party members.

It is against this background that this writer intends to assess the merits and demerits of Professor Mills Presidential candidacy in 2008. As funs of the party it is important that we assess the potentials of individuals candidates not only on their abilities and capabilities as president should they win, but also their marketability as candidate. The reasons are that before a candidate becomes president in a democracy he/she must first win an election. Winning an election involve the ability to demostrate to the Ghanaian voting public that he/she is capable of governing the country successfully. He/She must must be able articulate idea effectively, and be able to translate concept into workable policies.

Above of all these a candidate must be able to connect to the voting public, by placing his/herself as an independent and capable alternative to the ruling government.

As a person, Professor Mills is a fine individual. His academic and professional capabilities qualifies him as Ghana's president. But Is Professor Mills a viable and marketable NDC candidate in the 2008 elections? Given that he has already been rejected two times by the Ghanaian voting public. Answers to this question depends on who you ask.

To the Professor's supporters he is still a viable and markable candidate. To them he lost only narrowly against President Kuffour in the last elections. They contend that apart from the Ex-President, Professor Mills represent the face of the NDC. He has been able to win over 44% of voters in the last elections and given the unpopularity of the seating government he could pool it for the NDC this time round. This is bases of the arguments of those who still think that Mills is viable and markable.

However, this writer begs to differ on the basis that twice bitten once shy. Twice the honourable Professor was offered the chance to lead the party in to an electoral battle and twice he failed to yield the desired result. The Professor's candidacy in 2008 base on the above mentioned reason falls flat on the face of Ghanaian election statistical reasons and does not meet the requirement of simple logic in terms of calculating the fortunes of political candidates. In statistical terms Professor Mills pooled same percentage of votes in both 2000 and 2004 (44%+). This suggest that he was only able to win the traditional NDC votes. According to Editor of Daily some 10% of Ghanaian voters are independent, that is they do not express affiliation with any political party in the country. In both 2000 and 2004 elections those independent voters sided with the NPP. Even though some NDC supports might dismiss Ben's observation, I am tempted in to believing him. Professor Mills had failed to bring those voters in to our camp and hence the party paid the altimate price.

Furthermore, this wirter believes that the humble Professor represent the face of a loser. The Ghanaian voting public will always associate him with the two elections he had already lost. In electoral politics public perception of a candidate is very important. The fact that he did not connect with Ghanaian voters in the two elections he lost makes it difficult for this writer to believe that he will in 2008. The Professor's relations with the Ex-President did not help his two campaigns and I predict will not help him 2008 should he be the candidate for the NDC. The reason is simple, President Rawlings is a Pluralising figer. Some, including myself will scrifice ourselves for him because he represents the stability and the democratic process in Ghana today, but to other fellow citizens he represents the darker side of this country's political history. This is the hard truth that Ex-President and any future NDC presidential candidate must come to terms with. Future NDC presidential candidate must, to use Professor Mike Oquaye's words, behavour like a fox and lion. A fox in sense that such a candidate must use the ex-President in a very wise way to energise traditional NDC voters, whiles asserting him/herself as strong and different from the ex-President. Unfortunately, Professor Mills did not use the Ex-President's plurality to his advantage. He allowed the NPP to sucessfully define him as the purpet of the Ex-President and in the two election that he lost he did nothing concret to redefine himself. Professor Mills could therefore be best described as the John Kerry of Ghanaian Politics. From the famous or infamous Swadru declaration, to Professor Mill's decision to declare that he will consult the ex-Presdient 24 hours. He did not assert himself as an independent person to ordinary Ghanaian voters. He rather projected himself to the voting public as hiding behind the popularity of the ex-President to win votes.

In the next part of this article I will assess Professor Mill's Chances against other contending candidates of the NDC. I will assess him against John Mahama, Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, and P.V Obeng. I will also examine his chances against Nana Akufo Addo because Nana is the most likely person to emerge as the NPP candidate all things being equal.

Abdul-Rahman
Welland, Ontario
Canda.


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