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Opinions of Sunday, 4 January 2009

Columnist: Ato Kwamena Dadzie

Congratulations, Prof.

The motivational speakers of the world will soon be pointing to Prof. John Atta Mills’ victory as a very useful lesson in perseverance. The fact that he lost two previous bids led some people to write him off. His ill-health, also sent out very bad signals about his ability to lead. Ironically, it was in the year he was tagged as a ‘living-dead’ that he decided to walk over long distances from door-to-door, canvassing for votes. And it paid off. If this is not a “never give up” lesson, I don’t know what is.

I think Mills’ win wasn’t as much a vote for him as it was a vote against John Kufuor and the NPP. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that he overcame a lot of formidable challenges in leading the NDC to hand the NPP the most shocking defeat. For this I congratulate the President-elect.

It’s not easy for an opposition party to trounce a ruling party in an election – not when the party in power hasn’t screwed up monumentally. The Kufuor administration had its flaws but, in a country where the standards of governance are so low, it’s been one of the best governments we’ve ever had. For Mills to have led the NDC to such an electoral triumph (against a government which did as well as Kufuor’s) is testimony to the campaign he waged and the desire of the electorate for something new. Whether Mills can deliver is another story altogether. For now, he deserves our congratulations.

Whiles saying “well done” to the President-elect, let’s also spare a moment for the vanquished candidate of the NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo. I don’t like saying nice things to assuage the egos of losers. And I won’t make an exception in this case. He lost. Pure and simple. It doesn’t matter that the margin was slim. He lost. All I can say to him and his supporters is “better luck next time” (if there will be a next time).

I am a bit disappointed, though, that Nana made this election drag on longer than it should. He should have conceded much earlier than he did. His failure (or refusal) to concede in good time coupled with his ‘patapaa’ posture almost sent this country to the brink of strife. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and everyone pulled back. For this, I’d like to say “thank you” to Nana for accepting defeat – even if he came across as a sore loser.

President Kufuor also deserves a little “thank you”. He has been angered by some of the missteps of NPP officials and he was very worried about how people on both sides of the political divide seemed to be losing their cool. His intervention was a bit delayed but when it came, it helped a great deal. His statement urging both the NDC and NPP to “yield to the authority” of the Electoral Commission forced the ruling party to halt its desperate and ill-advised bid to get a court order to restrain the EC from declaring the results of the poll. The story would have been different if he had continued to stay mute. For such a useful intervention, I am going to pray that Kufuor gets that UN job he so much craves.

Finally, I think we all deserve a couple of pats on backs for a job well done. It was a bit messy but it’s still a good example to Africa and it’s also demonstrates to the rest of the world that some people on this continent can get it right. As we bask in national pride, let’s put aside our political difference and join hands to congratulate our president-elect and determine in our hearts and minds that we will do all we can to help him become the leader we deserve – even if it means criticising and lampooning him. And it all starts now... Surely, as Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings advised last year, we should not treat him with kid gloves.
Click here to visit Ato Kwamena Dadzie’s blogsite
email: ato@atokd.com