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Opinions of Friday, 20 May 2011

Columnist: Abubakar, Shuk

Mills: Courage to stand up to Rawlings, but not to lead the nation

When it comes to prosecuting corruption and jailing murderers, President Mills’ 'Better Ghana agenda' lacks action.

Say what you will about the long-term wisdom of electing president Mills to the summit of Power in Ghana. It's undeniable that the president is a man with strong academic resume earned from several prestigious universities. The president had excelled in both public and private life either as the vice president of our republic, a civil servant, a lecturer, a visiting lecturer and in sports, as a skilful polo player. As it turned out, president Mills demonstrated a steely nerve and strong sense of public duty in the performance of his previous duties, without which he would likely not have succeeded. A statement from Get Atta Mills Endorsed (GAME) team describes some of his qualities as including “…… leadership style, his trustworthiness, his integrity, his modesty and his unifying personality. Also, President Mills is delivering massively on his 2008 campaign promises. He is committed to the development of Ghana, he abhors corruption and has fellow-feeling.”

All of which begs the question: Why can’t President Mills display these qualities in carrying out his hugely and admittedly difficult duties and responsibilities as the president of the country? How can he risk so much to even incur the wrath of the Rawlingses, but lack the courage to take the far smaller risks that would accompany a re-grounding and not merely rebranding his presidency?

A Campaign Team list worth a thousand words

One answer might come from the names on the president’s campaign team (Sir Paul Victor Obeng, Mr. Fred Ohene Kena, Mr. J H Owusu-Acheampong, Isaac Vanderpuiye, Kwame Peprah, Kofi Totobi Quakyi, Madam Cecilia Johnson, Ato Ahwoi, Sherry Ayittey, Nii Lantey Vanderpuiye, Ama “Chavez” Benyiwa Doe, Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, Cletus Avoka, Yaw Antwi Gyamfi, Mahama Ayariga, Rashid Pelpuo, Emmanuel Begyera (MP, Ho West), Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi, Mahama Fuseini, Okudzeto Ablakwa, Bertha Ansah Gyan, Omane Boamah, Haruna Iddrisu, Dr. Asima, Sylvia Osei and Dr. Stephen Opuni). It is remarkable isn’t it? This list is who is who of ‘enemies and traitors’. Quickly assembled to confront and contain Mrs Rawlings for daring to challenge his re-nomination as the flag bearer of NDC
Let us imagine that, instead of bringing this group together to ‘intimidate’ the Rawlingses, the president had called them down to the Castle to discuss how to engage with several disfranchised NDC supporters and suspend his Government’s policy banning state ministries and department from employing new staff (unemployment is the greatest problem facing Ghanaians). Or, to announce his intention to pursue and prosecute former officials accused of fraud, and to immediately suspend any Minister or Government appointee involved in corrupt practices.

Or, thinking domestically or local man’s politics. If President Mills called in most of his campaign team to work out a plan on how to use his campaign fund of ‘GHS90million’ (source: one Hebert Mensah) to revive rice production in Northern Ghana, or to draw up a modality for providing subsidise agriculture inputs to our farmers, or even a more greater and worthwhile achievement could involved sending his campaign team on a fact finding mission to find out how District Chief Executives (DCEs) are using their share of the Common Fund. It would cost roughly more than GHS90million, but will be a far more noble way to improve the living standard of Ghanaians than a personal re-election ambition projected to costs more than ‘GHS90Millions’ just to contest the position of the flag bearer of the NDC. (How much his campaign chest will be for the face/off with Nana A. Addo - alias ‘All die be die’ is not worth thinking about). As it happens, the president assured us that, “Even though I am in the process of executing the better Ghana agenda, I have to spend time campaigning for our primaries, however I will like to assure you that I will not lose focus of our better Ghana agenda – this is the mandate that the people of Ghana has given us and the least that we can do is to work assiduously towards its achievement,” said President Mills. Well his Excellency forgive me, but all these ‘Brainiacs’ in your campaign team are government appointees and will lose focus as well from playing their duties fighting for your re-election. A fact not lost on ordinary Ghanaian selling ‘hotdogs ‘by the road side.
One could easily imagine president Mills picking his nomination forms, but now alone, his campaign team, having resigned rather than supporting or participating in propagating unrealistic and untruthful promise.

Or would they?

One of the most important qualities a president must demonstrate is leadership. President Mills, campaign team understood the risk of disobeying their Boss, not just to their current posh lifestyle but to their own careers and legacies. Most of those in ‘Team Mills’ list knows too well that, their political life very much hinged on being ‘yes men’ to President Mills.

Fear or something else?

From the start, President Mills attempted to distinguish himself from ex-president Rawlings by dialling back on his Better Ghana Agenda against the ‘erratic’ rhetorics his former boss had made a centrepiece throughout his 20 year iron fist rule. “This solemn promise that I am making to you and to the people of Ghana is that I will not indulge in mud-slinging. I will not insult anybody, engage in any fabrication or show disrespect to anybody. According to our custom, you do not insult someone who is older than you are, you show respect to your elders and I will always strive on the truth even if it will not appear palatable,” President Mills. I bet his campaign will do the entire dirty job intimidating the Rawlingses for him.

In reality however, president Mills’ inability to secure a single conviction for corruption under the NPP administration and for the barbaric Murders of YaNa Yakubu and that of CPP activist Alhaj Issah Mobilla all under president Kuffour had been used by the Rawlingses as the justification to call for change in the party leadership for next generation.

Infectious deception

By ignoring the calls from within his party to act on the promises his party made to Ghanaians to win his first term, the president had weakened his chance of been re-elected. Critics and supporters of Mrs Rawlings candidacy accused the president of failing to act on his promise to ‘prosecute all’ corruption allegations under ex- president Kufour and on finding and bringing to justice the killers of YaNa Yakubu and Alhaj Issah Mobilla. Several NDC and floating voters who supported the president and his NDC party must be feeling mugged now and most Ghanaians will be scratching their head for falling to President Mills’ infectious deception. These voters will be waiting ‘thumps up’ come 2012 to punish the NDC. Let face it, whatever the outcome of flagberership nomination on July 9th, the actual winners will be the NPP in 2012.

From pragmatism to realism

Here is the point where President Mill's oft-described "pragmatism" has done him so much harm. Unwilling to take on the entrenched interests behind the status quo, President Mills was forced to the position of a mere spectator as the populist Mr and Mrs Rawlings hijacked his presidency calling for deeper, political and structural changes in NDC.

The president might be hoping with a war chest of ‘GHS90Million’, he can again reboot Voters’ relationship to the NDC. It will be hard to better the rhetorics of the Mr Rawlings, but the quality of the discourse isn't really the point any more.


With the cries of revolution sweeping across the NDC, talk has become cheap. It's time for president Mills to start delivering on his campaign promises. If he could risk his presidency to incur the wrath of the Rawlingses, he has no excuse to remain on the sidelines as corrupt former NPP officials continue to enjoy their ill gotten wealth with impunity. Equally repulsive is the fact that, nefarious murderers of YaNa Yakubu and Issah Mobilla still remain at large whilst their families continues agonising wait for justice.

Shuk Abubakar
(Student of Educational Planning)
Institute of Education
Sir George Monoux College
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