NOW that Prof. John Evans Attah Mills has gotten his mantle back, I would say let's congratulate him, but at the same time let's turn the searchlight more intensely on his dealings, connections and challenges. When the time comes, trust me, we shall do the same for whoever the NPP would put forward. Meanwhile it is Prof. John Evans Attah Mills day and rightly so. His being elected as the NDC flag bearer for the third time goes to underscore his formidable political mainstay and support from at least 45% of the electorate. That places him a few heartbeats away from the presidency. What he has to do to get the extra 6%, i.e. 50% plus 1 is the focus of this article.
The first thing that comes to mind is funding. Prof. Attah Mills is not known to be well heeled, money wise. The people who had previously bankrolled and helped market him are the ones he went to battle against. Would Eddie Annan continue to throw money into a sinking fund? As a businessman who touted the idea of coming to run the country like a business I doubt Eddie Annan would continue to fund an Attah Mills campaign rather than bid his time for 2012. And since Attah Mills doesn't have the money, I think it is genuine question to ask where he is going to get his funding from, and whether he would not become beholden to those who would fund his campaign. Already his adamant opposition to ROPAA has decidedly cut him dry of donations from many a Ghanaian diasporan. And much as I would like to shake off the idea from my mind I think we have to more forcefully investigate the Attah Mills, Rojo Mettle-Nunnoo and Venezuelans “direct foreign investments” money connections. His health issue is also genuine, I have no ill wish for him, not at all, but the country deserves to know who we are electing into office. We do not want to elect him in December 2008 and wake up January 2009 to find out he is the sick man of West Africa. There is a similar situation in Guinea, where the president is constantly out of the country, recuperating from diabetes in Switzerland, often six to 12 months at a time. In his absence things have been standing still and corruption has become rampant.
Frankly, Attah Mills' problem is that of connectivity with the electorate. On paper, he is the best among the candidates assembled by the NDC for their flag bearer, but that is all that. Attah Mills does not connect with the people, outside hardcore NDC support base. He does not connect with the independents that he would need to swing the election his way. All his campaign strategy so far has been like “I have been a foot soldier of the NDC for a long time. I have served the party faithfully…….. blaablaablaa”. He doesn't seem to get it that getting the crown of presidency is not a reward for where you have been and how hard you have fought for the party. It is more about the future. How can you lead the nation to solve our myriad problems? And even more importantly how are you going to source funding and financing for the promises you make? It is not enough to promise milk and honey, it is even more important to tell us how we would afford or pay for the promises. Is it going to be the usual globe trotting and asking for aid because we cannot keep our house in order? Is it going to be printing more paper money and throwing it to our cadres, comrades and trade unions because we cannot say no to unnecessary perennial clamor for pay increments, whilst productivity slopes downwards? Is our budget going to be 60% aid dependent because our government is incompetent and unable to broaden the tax base and rope in the huge informal sector to pay their fair share of INCOME TAX? The countries that give us loans and aid money have instruments and structures in place that make it hard to dodge the tax burden. Everybody is required to file income tax return, working or not working, so that all can be held accountable. Hard questions must be asked; we are tired of the visionless politicians whose only calling card is to remind us of how good it was under Kwame Nkrumah regime. Yes we know what Nkrumah did; his manifests are there for all to see. But the question is not about ancestors, it is about posterity. Those who are here and now and those yet to come.
Prof. Attah Mills does not excite and energize the larger political base, even within the NDC. Generally, he comes across as a RELUCTANT POLITICIAN. Kind of somebody who is shy of the rough and tumble of politics. He wants the job, but has not electrified the people with the excitement why they should vote for him. That translates into certain - hard to figure - giddiness or hesitance on the part of the people. The people don't feel him. The vibes are darn dead. And to the extent that he can't emerge and step away from the shadows of JJ Rawlings, is very troubling. For believe you me, millions of independent swing voters, who are likely to swing the election one way or the other hate the idea of JJ Rawlings and his wife being the back seat drivers, and calling the shots from their house, to an Attah Mills office.
The theme song the NDC has been using to introduce JJ Rawlings at their conventions is the Christian hymnal:
“Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high his royal
banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory on to victory, His army shall
Then they would go on to brag that they are honored and happy to have the only living past president among them. I don't know whether it is only me, but what are they smoking or drinking? Who would associate JJ Rawlings with Jesus and brag that he is the only living president when he had played major role in the demise of former presidents. How do you attract more voters to such a party?
The NDC would also brag about Prof. Mills academic records. Ones academic degrees can only go a very limited distance in the thought process and considerations the electorate take into account in choosing who to vote for, especially in a country where over 70% of the voting electorate are largely functionally illiterate and cannot disseminate the manifestos and campaign pamphlets of the political parties. So degrees count, but not a whole lot, and Rawlings proved that, even though others might dispute the authenticity of JJ Rawlings winning two elections fairly and freely. But hate him or like him, he could connect with the electorate. He spoke their street language and was able to make them think he was on their side. But the times have changed dramatically. Ghanaians are not going to jump on cheap and empty propaganda promises. This time around they are very conscious and protective of their rights and freedoms, and are not about to put their head on any dictator, directly or indirectly.
Between NDC and NPP, it would come down to whom you could trust with your hard earned money. If you want many happy returns to your money, investments and capital, which of the candidates and parties would you choose to invest your money on your behalf? Whose policies would depreciate or appreciate your currency and the value of your properties and investments? We have seen one government that sat by and through whose policies the Cedi's exchange rate to the dollar dropped from 1.75 Cedis to $1.00 in 1979 to 8,000 Cedis to the same $1.00 by the year 2000, a -457,043% depreciation/devaluation, hence the emergence of poor but paper millionaires under Rawlings P/NDC, to another government about to shrink or shave off 4 zeros from every 10,000 Cedis, and has gotten the cedi stable enough to trade on the international money markets; a first in the country's history and one of just four African countries whose currency can do that, plus sovereign credit rate of B++. Our foreign reserves have even risen past the $2Billion mark for the first time in the country's history. That is the question and that is what we want to be sold on.
You vote for Prof. Attah Mills, you get Rawlings for free. That is the deal. And we are not buying that. We cannot allow JJ Rawlings to have indirect VETO power over the presidency. You know he is not going to go into a quiet self-imposed political silence under an NDC regime. Whoever sits there in that chair would never be allowed to forget who "sacrificed" to let him come and "enjoy". If you think Rawlings even dared to exert himself on Kufour, then you have not seen anything yet, until we come under an NDC administration. He would be writing his own cheques and expenses and expect the state to pick up the tabs. For this reason, Prof. Attah Mills campaign cannot go pass Rawlings, and that is why he MAY NOT WIN the 2008 elections.
Eric Kwasi Bottah, alias Oyokoba