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23.08.2006 Politics

Aftermath of Mills’ ‘Cabinet’ reshuffle

By The Chronicle
Aftermath of Mills’ ‘Cabinet’ reshuffle
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…NDC at war with Ayariga

Reports reaching The Chronicle's political desk indicate that there is growing uneasiness within the rank and file of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) over Mahama Ayariga's membership on Prof. John Evans Atta Mills' flagbearership campaign team.

The reports indicate that immediately Mr. Ayariga, who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bawku Central and Minority Spokesperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs, consented to be Prof. Mills' spokesman, tongues started wagging to the extent that some top party officials started calling for his removal from the position as Minority Spokesperson of the Parliamentary Committee.

Party sources say the NDC has asked Ayariga to choose between his parliamentary post and what has been offered him by the former Vice President, Prof. Mills.

According to party officials, the position taken by Mr. Ayariga, contradicts the party's new guidelines, which debar executive members of the party from openly campaigning for any of the aspiring presidential candidates.

The party's General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has reacted to Ayariga's decision with a directive to the MP to choose between the two positions, saying that could only be the safest way of dealing with the matter and also prevent other party executives from also breaching the guidelines laid down by the party.

According to the NDC scribe, the MP's position was in sharp contrast of the guidelines, explaining that the new guidelines were to give a free and fair platform to all potential aspirants and also provide them with the opportunity to interact with any of the executives without fear or favour.

But Mahama Ayariga said that although he has his own reservations about the party guidelines, he would not do anything to breach it.

The Harvard-trained lawyer said he was prepared to relinquish his position as a ranking member of the Parliamentary Committee and concentrate on his new job to ensure that Prof. Mills, whom he described as politically matured, credible and the obvious choice of the masses, would emerge the presidential candidate for the NDC when it goes to congress.

According to him, Mills has been tried and tested and is well-vested in political and socio-economic issues, and above all was committed to social democracy. He said the Professor was someone “who knows how to deal with nagging issues” such as corruption.

“The rank and file of the party have come to appreciate his commitment to the people by establishing good relationship with the party members,” he said. “Among all the aspirants, Prof. Mills is the most matured and experience, and many members of the party who are at the grassroots have come to appreciate his efforts.”

Responding to perceptions that the founder of the NDC would control Mills, Ayariga said it was unfortunate people did not really know the ex-Vice President.

According to him, the fact that Mills served under Mr. Rawlings as Vice President did not mean he would allow himself to be easily manipulated by anybody including the founder of the NDC.

“I can assure you that if there is anybody in this country who cannot be controlled by anybody except by his conscience and convictions, it is Prof. Mills,” he attested. The enterprising legislator observed that those who engaged in propaganda to say Mills would be controlled by the founder or set Prof. Mills against Mr. Rawlings would never succeed.

“There is no doubt about the fact that we in the NDC have recognized the strategic role Rawlings plays in the party in terms of holding the centre of the party,” he said.

To this end, the spokesman said the NDC was not going to allow itself to be pushed about by anyone.

“I can assure you that Rawlings does not control Mills; on the contrary, Rawlings has a lot of respect for Mills and that is why in the past he has always stood strongly behind him,” said, Ayariga.

Meanwhile, Prof. Mills has reshuffled his team because Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, as the Deputy General Secretary of the NDC by the new guidelines, could not play an active role in the team.

Former Greater Accra Regional Minister, Joshua Alabi, who is now the Deputy Registrar of the Institute of Professional Studies (IPS), could also not be retained because of his current duties.

Seth Ohene-Ofori, who served as the Press Liaison for Prof. Mills in the latter part of the campaign, said he was actually not a member of the team but had come on board as a compromise candidate after Dr. Kwesi Botchway lost his bid.

Ohene-Ofori, who is currently studying for his Master's Degree in Communications abroad, said it was untenable for him to be included in the Mills' team.

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