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Opinions of Monday, 21 April 2008

Columnist: Amoyaw, Sandy

Prof. Atta-Mills Ready For Primetime

With the selection of John Mahama as his running mate, Prof. Mills has officially crossed over from shadowy territory to an assertive public personality, and with a clear message that he is in control. John Mahama’s selection, devoid of any quid pro quo, underscores the fact that Prof. Mills’ attributes are the exact antithesis of the idiosyncratic modus operandi of those who opposed his selection of John Mahama as the NDC’s Vice-Presidential candidate.

Once upon a time, observing a major presidential candidate as he greeted supporters was a staple of campaign coverage. Those days are being revisited. One candidate whose campaign rallies regularly attract thousands, making him seem as distant as a rock star at a logistically nightmarish stadium show is Prof Atta-Mills. Any up-close and personal relationship with Prof. Mills spawns a genuine excitement about discovering a politician you actually admire. The bottom-line is that the other Presidential aspirants are boneheads with no possible chance of becoming the president of Ghana. They parlay their status as the potential saviors of their respective political parties. Although it is still the doldrums of the campaign for the 2008 elections, none of the presidential candidates from the other parties are really viable candidates for the presidency. Prof Atta-Mills on the other hand is too good at messaging to highlight the subtle differences of his ability to govern Ghana as compared to any of the Presidential aspirants, because his political experience is a big asset for the country.

Prof. Mills is an exceptionally gifted one-on-one, meet-and-greet retail politician. My sense is that because of that fact, the press covers him with the expectation that those charismatic personal skills would at some point allow his extensive and diverse government experience to shine through. Most significantly, he continues to take the opportunity after opportunity to contrast himself favorably with his opponents.

One way to describe Prof Atta-Mills is that underneath the humble inspirational leader who wants to effect a paradigm shift in Ghanaian politics, and upon whom Ghanaians are projecting their hopes, is an ambitious, prickly, and occasionally tough politician. Furthermore, underneath that guy is another one, an Atta-Mills who’s keenly aware that presidential politics is about timing, and that at this extremely low moment in Ghanaian politics, there is a need for someone-and he firmly believes that someone is him- to lift up the country in a way no politician has since Kwame Nkrumah. He is incredibly magnetic and likeable. And that has its utility always. This is a really profound guy in many ways, and you do not want him trivialized. During his trip to the United States last fall, he gave the most uplifting speeches in recent memory. Watching him up close in New York the audience was so excited to hear the language of an orator.

Politics is mostly a transactional business. At the end of the day, the people want something concrete. At its core, Prof. Atta-Mills’ campaign is a rejection of strictly transactional politics. It has to be, because the reality is that there are a few truly substantive differences between the other presidential candidates when it comes to transactional politics. Prof. Mills does not want to be used as a way of advancing someone’s political agenda and rewarding friends and not enemies when he becomes president. Given the historic opportunity of an electorate desperate for change and disinclined to elect another presidential aspirant from the incumbent party, the presidential race between Prof. Atta-Mills, N.P.P and the other presidential aspirants is really about who will be the most transformational president. Prof. Atta-Mills’ case is that to change anything in our country, we have to begin by changing our politics, and he offers the kind of campaign he is running as evidence that he means it. Prof. Atta-Mills always emphasizes the need to go through the process and tell the truth and be pretty open and talk about the issues and mistakes. The need to do all the things we are criticizing this administration for not doing. The need to be open to other people’s points of view and perspective, and also build consensus around the things that pull us together Prof Atta-Mills will not let the process chew him up and shred the reputation he has worked mightily to build. He is in this to win, he wants to win, and I think he will win because he is going to be Prof. Atta-Mills, whose brilliant campaigning, humility, uncanny grasp of the issues, and clear vision for Ghana will move the electorate.

Prof Mills, of all the presidential candidates “you are the noblest Ghanaian of them all” and you are truly ready for primetime in Ghanaian politics.

Prof Mills, contrary to unpopular opinion, is alive and well. , “….because he lives Ghanaians can face tomorrow, and because he lives all fear is gone because Ghanaians know he holds the future for Ghana and life is worth a living just because he lives”. Feature page



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