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Opinions of Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Columnist: Nyonator, Sam

If Atta Mills, Then No Vote For The NDC In 2012

When in 1996, in his usual erratic fashion, Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana’s longest president, out of the blue selected the current Ghanaian president as his vice presidential candidate single-handedly, it was a blow to many party stalwarts and lobbyist who were hoping to make it to the second highest office of the land.
Jerry John Rawlings defied all internal democratic structures within his own party and imposed the unknown law professor on the party. The professor’s political immaturity was shielded by the all-powerful Rawlings, who was always at centre stage in everything concerning his party and government. There were also pretty much some smart guys like Dr. Ibn Chambas, Dr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Dr. Obed Asamoah, Commodore Steve Obimpeh, Dr. Mary Grant and a host of tried and tested politicians around the presidency. This made it very unlikely to notice the lackluster in the law professor. Many still begrudge Jerry John Rawlings for that act of betrayal.
The period between the time Evans Atta Mills became a Vice President of the Republic of Ghana and the Swedru declaration was also so short that it was difficult for party members to really assess the man on his merit and to give him the nod to lead the party. Rawlings again did the unthinkable. With a thumb of blood, he endorsed his vice as his succor and together out-doored the first copy of his party’s manifesto. Who in his right mind would stand in the way of Ghana’s most powerful at the time? The muted pain spread across the rank and file of the party like a latent tumor. It finally rocked the very foundation of the party in the year 2000 with an offshoot of the National Reform Party, which was heralded by the resignation of NDC most prolific scribe, Mr. Vincent Assisseh. There were other notable individuals who quietly walked away and never returned.
For lack of political maturity, the uninspiring Mills could not unite the factions that emerged after the Swedru declaration. One may ask “if he could not unite his own party, how could he be expected to unite the disparate political persuasions across the country for a political victory?”
So the festering division within the party spilled over. Goozy Tanoh and his National Reform party believed the mother party from which they splintered was better off in opposition. Party secrets were traded openly, and even the child in the street could tell that all was not well with the National Democratic Congress. When the chips finally fell in place, the NDC was walloped into opposition.
With dwindling political fortunes, the strategy was to retain the law professor, as it was believed that he was the most marketable candidate. So he was retained without the rancor that marked the Swedru anointment. He again failed to deliver the keys to the seat of the presidency to his comrades and political collaborators.
To many political pundits, it was suicidal to continue to present a flat-foot candidate to Ghanaians for the third time. Indeed, in any well-cultured and civilized democracy, it would have been very difficult for the uninspiring law professor to even spearhead his party again after the first failure. But the understanding was that he was the most “marketed” candidate and a face well-known in Ghanaian politics. This message was well-packed and drummed down to the voting delegates to the NDC congress who imbibed it lock, stock, and barrel.
Poor Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah thought he could outwit the NDC establishment by using the ailing health of the professor to undo him. He continues to pay the price for that slip-up. He was not only trounced convincingly in the ballot by the sympathies the situation generated for Atta, but the backlash continues to reverberate till today. Atta’s victory was legitimizing!
What befuddles political pundits and observers till today is the sudden turnaround by Rawlings to shoot the law professor in the foot by calling for his removal as a presidential candidate. Many have tried fruitlessly to fill in the yawning gap to make some meaning out of the situation. The truth remains that it was Atta himself who disclosed to the Kingmaker that he wanted to step aside, as his health was failing him. Although this did not go down well with the founder and the kingmaker, he tried as difficult as it was to come to the rescue. Things degenerated and their relationship has remained frosty till date.
Many thought that victory for Mills would have naturally mended the frosty relationship between the two old comrades. Contrary to that expectation is an open hostility which is threatening to split the ruling party. There is no doubt that Mills is not in charge of affairs. But with the people he has surrounded himself with, he thinks he can easily dispose his political mentor. He has failed to recognize the fact that you don’t finish drinking from the well and seal the well that quenched your thirst. It is incredible that he even had the guts, after this level of abysmal performance, to dare his party that he is contesting 2012.
If from 1996 to 2008 through 2012 Mills alone could create such a division within the NDC at various points in time, doesn’t he get it that it would be wise for him to step aside after one term, and allow more younger, vibrant, and innovative individuals to take over from him to transform the party? Is he waiting for the baton to fall from his hand for everyone to scramble for it than hand it over in an atmosphere of dignity and respect? Anyway, the bootlickers around him want him to believe all is well.
With the election of Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo as the presidential candidate for the 2012 election, NDC has a lot of work to do. If the most “marketed” strategy or concept worked for Mills in 2008, then there is the propensity that it might work for Akuffo-Addo, too. Unless, you would like us to believe that it is a one way scientific analysis which works only in favor of some group of people—the NDC. It is even worse with the level of factionalism within the NDC now. If Mills won the 2008 by only 40 000 votes, then the indications are that he may not make it this time around. There are people within his own party who would not vote him come 2012, let alone floating voters.
Mills doesn’t really get it. In the heat of things, he quickly mobilized regional chairmen of his party to pledge their allegiance to him for 2012. It was one of the most bizarre political steps to take, believing you are in safe hands. The truth is that even the position of those chairmen is shaking. Atta Mills, don’t you have eyes to see that there is so much disenchantment about your presidency at the grassroots? Does it take 12 regional chairmen of a party to win an election? Please wake up!

Please John Evans Atta Mills, do not obliterate the NDC before you leave. You don’t pay kindness with evil. The NDC has been so good to you to have maintained you through thick and thin. The NDC has supported you all the way from 1996 till now. There is nowhere in this world where only on person would think that he is indispensable to a mammoth political gathering like the NDC. It is time for you to consider the good of the party and give way based on reason. We hope it is not true that you think after all if the NDC loses 2012 you have nothing to lose.

Sam Nyonator