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Opinions of Monday, 11 July 2011

Columnist: Abubakar, Shuk

Mills: What a victory, but a qualified one

This election had pit the colourful populist and the wife of the former president against the former Professor and protégé of the Rawlingses.

My Analysis, Verdict and advice to the President



What is the significance of this result?

This election was a referendum on three main issues. One was on the performance of the ruling NDC under President Mills, notably on the economic performance of the NDC over the last three years.
Secondly, it was a referendum over the slow pace in prosecuting the massive corruptions and mismanagement under ex-president Kufour and his NPP government. Many Ghanaians at least expects many of the corruption allegations to pass through the justice system such as the fast track court in order to determine who is guilty and who is not.
It was also a referendum over the influences of the Rawlingses within the NDC party. The Rawlingses had an extensive impact upon the political landscape in Ghana; Saturday’s election could shake things up in politically volatile NDC. This election had raised tension especially amongst those who sees Mrs Rawlings’ presidency as ‘paving the unlikely way for Mr Rawlings himself to return’ - many Ghanaian will see Mrs Rawlings rule as simply Mr Rawlings rule.
Verdict: Mills passed the test (but just!)

Choosing between NDC presidential candidates Mills and Rawlings has been described as opting between cancer and AIDS.
Mrs Rawlings' political story reads like something out of a surreal magical realist novel.
The former first lady had hoped to be the first female presidential candidate in the political field and was running on experience - that is to say, the experience of her husband. Not only does Mrs Rawlings bring a lot of personal baggage to the table, but politically she would most undoubtedly follow unenviable populist economic and social policies favoured by Mr Rawlings.
In many ways, President Mills could not be more different from Mrs Rawlings. He is said to be a quiet and God fearing man, he said he would support democracy and the rule of law. He wants to ‘retool the economy in favour of the poor who have been left out of the recent economic boom’.

Clearly the NDC delegates have given him an extra few points to underline their satisfaction with the economic situation, and the progress NDC has made over the last three years.

Verdict: Mills probably deserved to win
What are the implications of this election for the Rawlingses and the NDC?
The Rawlingses falls from the nobility of the NDC party is kind of classic tale of hubris. Mr Rawlings is now saying ‘look, it will never have happen, never trust President Mills’ He Mr Rawlings reverted to older Fenian -style kind of rhetoric where president Mills represents the infamous thing that you can never trust, that will always do down the NDC party. He is now saying ‘mills has done down me’ but he let himself down.

There is no doubt Mr Rawlingses is a titanic figure in the NDC party, but the flaws in his personality is parts of that titanic image- that kingly hauteur. When he fought for Mrs Rawlings to remove president Mills in this campaign, one of his tactics was to pour scorn on the very things he himself had accomplished.
The Rawlingses had refused to back down despite severe criticism and even after several former allies denounce them. Mr Rawlings placed his leadership before the unity of his party and this result could split the party despite calls for unity.

But there are enough votes for Mrs Rawlings in this election and for president Mills and the NDC party to acknowledged that, the “issues and concerns that were raised by some Party members during the campaign cannot be swept under the carpet"

All the same, the NDC party as a political force has been traumatise by the political in-fighting in this campaign. The surface calm demeanour of the government mask the bitter division cause by Mr Rawlings attempts to force his wife into power.

President Mills remains in power (for now) with the populist Rawlingses appears vanquished. But the 2012 presidential race will witness an epic transformation of the NPP party.

The NDC will need to unite now and fast before the NPP sense blood.
Verdict: NDC will need the support of the Rawlingses to win next election

Where does President Mills take the country and his party from here?

What will President Mills do now to consolidate his own party’s powerbase? Will he underline the party's pragmatism and its commitment to social justice?
Will we see him make well his better ‘Ghana Agenda’ by enacting mega-national plans, whether it is national education initiative, a new industrial city and so forth? So I think there are several serious structural and strategic national projects that he will be able to enact in this term that will allow him to solidify his achievement, and take Ghana to a new level where Ghana will not only be a regional player, but also, as an economic power in Africa. He could do more to improve the quality education and healthcare delivery for Ghanaians.

Verdict: Mills has more work to do

My Advice to President Mills - “not another sermon!”
Dear Mr President, in your speech after being declared winner last Saturday, you said it was "no victory for any particular person but a process that is going to energize the Party".

Making another speech and calling for unity is welcomed, especially during this uncertain times in your party. But frankly, it won't make that much of a difference unless it is followed-up with a frank and open conversation.
We've already heard speeches after speeches from you destined for the NDC faithful, and realise all too well that you're a man of many promises. I read about your much touted pedigree and personal story. But calling for unity within the NDC party is nothing like 'one-on-one' contact required to ensure unity. You need to put your lay-ups to the test.

And in the NDC, there is one heavy-weight worth talking to, and that's the Rawlingses.

Yes, your speech was aired live on various media and will be front page in most print media. And yes, this one will be dissected and deciphered once again by the pundits. But at the end of the day, it will be just another sermon; an attempt to talk over peoples' heads.

This is no time for more lectures and promises my dear President. You need to talk to the Rawlingses. The Rawlingses and the NDC faithful needs to hear certain answers to indispensable questions they have. Indeed, to win the election next year, you need the Rawlingses support and their crowd pulling ability. Yes, the Rawlingses will come at you with all they've got. And yes, they might take advantage of your weak points, but it's nothing you can't handle.
You must address the perception of hypocrisy (past policy vs. present promises, rhetoric and reality), double standards, misinformation and your indifference regarding some important regional and local challenges facing Ghanaians, notably the murder of Yaa Naa and the chronic poverty, the lack of opportunities and deprivations Ghanaians are facing daily.

These could only be answered satisfactorily through an exchange that you need to have with the Rawlingses and all stakeholders within your party.
A speech, no matter how eloquent, how bombastic, or how promising doesn't compare to a humble conversation.

By the way, with the victory over Mrs Rawlings, late is better than never...! you have much to talk about with the Rawlingses if you want to have any chance of seeing off NPP next year.
What say you! Mr President?

Writer
Shuk Abubakar
(Student of Educational Planning)
Institute of Education
s.abubakar@ioe.ac.uk