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14.10.2008 Feature Article

Professor Mills on cruise control, where is the convoy?

Professor Mills on cruise control, where is the convoy?

From the word go at that fateful NDC rally in Swedru, it had been Professor Attah Mills verses the NDC establishment. The tricky part yet, the establishment was headed by the very person who "established" the NDC, the founder, chief inspirer, doctor doctor.

Who in his right mind would head such a party, be it the position of chairman or the presidential candidate. Disaster loomed the moment Obed Asamoah took the chair; hitherto divided twice if you consider the co chairmanship and the hand of the doctor doctor, and attempted to consolidate power in the chair. There was no peace until he was pushed out.

The NDC obviously derived strength from its diversity as an off shoot of the PNDC which was a meeting point of all Ghanaian political traditions. Oman Panyin Kuffour did his second internship in the PNDC government, one of many from the Danquah Busiah tradition. The rest were mainly Nkrumahists and revolutionaries. It is that strength in diversity backed by the "establishment" of the Rawlings faction that made the PNDC and thence the NDC. The machinery of the establishment was the cadres with those dominant pragmatic intellectuals Vincent Assiseh, former NDC Press Secretary described. In Assiseh¢s words, the "NDC was a movement" and Attah-Mills has never been in charge of that movement as its spearhead leading to elections. The spearhead may not be blunt but it is not sharp enough.

Attah-Mills, when he was named running mate in 1996 was the right choice in keeping with the traditions of the PNDC, bringing qualified people into the government for their attributes, not loyalty. It would have been political suicide or even hypocritical to seriously oppose his nomination then. But the Swedru declaration and subsequent imposition of him on the party was his Achilles heel. He was tainted for the rest of his political carrier the moment he accepted the imposition and Attah-Mills has himself to blame for the continued existence of the National Reform Party and the wayward Every Ghanaian Living Everywhere.

When prof. tasted the soup, he should have drank it all yet he took spoonfuls, he should have moved to take control of the party and help built it into a solid machinery. He ignored or rather, was helpless to the concerns of the cadres who became Reform Movement then the Reform Party and that caused the worse damage to the NDC. To understand the position of Professor Attah Mills in the NDC; ask, what would he be without the backing of President Rawlings. What is Thabo Mbeki without the backing of Nelson Mandela or Jacob Zumah. Professor Mills was not self made in the NDC and did not play the political game to control the party. The establishment did not fully accept him, yet the establishment was headed by his guardian who is also leader of the party.

The founder and leader of the party does his own"thing" aside the party, the Attah Mills campaign do their own thing while off shoots of the PNDC / NDC do their own thing and one writer referred to the Mills campaign as being in cruise control. Cruise control is always good but if the highway has a minimum speed limit of 60 kilometres per hour and you are cruising below or averaging that speed, your competition¢s taillights must be looking attractive and fading.

Professor Mills and his party has also not made overtures to the other political parties. The last we heard was that a certain doctor was willing to become his running mate. But here is Professor Mills and the NDC cruising while the CPP tries to discover its roots as the PNC stands firm. The last "serious"attempt by the NDC to reach out to another party was when then chairman Obed visited a warrior called Dan Augustas Lartey and his Great Consolidated Party for cocoa drinks. Then there is the Democratic Freedom Party still with Dr. Obed Asamoah. The other parties matter but are not king makers like the ones mentioned above who do not seem to be graduating towards NDC.

The 2000 elections was not necessarily a vote to bring the NPP into power as a vote against the NDC. The vote was for an alternative to the NDC and NPP happened to be that alternative going into a loose alliance with the other parties. It was also what the NPP anticipated and their leader, now President Kuffour said it in a BBC interview in 2000. The 2008 elections may well turn out to be a vote against the NPP and if the NDC is that alternative is Professor Mills cruising just ahead of the political parties¢ convoy or far ahead trying hard alone to overtake one political party holding the upper cards?

Richard Dzifah Hiatsi
Richard Dzifah Hiatsi, © 2008

This author has authored 26 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: RichardDzifahHiatsi

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