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03.11.2008 Politics

Election 2008: Mills for President?

By The Statesman

The NDC Presidential aspirant, John Atta Mills' failure to attend a highly significant peace meeting organized in Accra by the Editors" Forum for presidential candidates in the face of some political violence and the allegations making the rounds by his own party that the ruling NPP intends to rig the December 7 general elections further fuel the political speculation whether he has the guts to rule Ghana.

He has been missing out on vital state political functions; his campaigns not Ghana-wide, his inability to articulate the National Democratic Congress' policies in tackling Ghana's development tribulations, and unlike the ruling New Patriotic Party's presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, Atta Mills has not been able to project confidence needed as a political leader in pushing the frontiers of Ghana's progress.

The row that ensued when the NDC manifesto was unveiled a few weeks ago,in which the NPP accused the NDC of doubling-up its ideas and its programmes, reveals an Atta Mills who lacks original ideas, fuller grasp of Ghana as a development project, and, therefore, short of insight as to how he will tackle Ghana's problems.

Though Atta Mills may be qualified academically, I have always wondered whether he has what it takes to be President of the Republic of Ghana in an election season that has been fought on surprisingly low cultural and intellectual level, with presidential candidates, except NPP's Akufo-Addo, not demonstrating detail grasp of how to engage Ghana's development challenges.

Yes, Atta Mills lacks the dexterity needed to ride the rough-and-tumble of the sizzling Ghanaian political terrain.

Not only does he appear politically dull, with unpresidential body language, he seems not to care much about the political process as is expected of a leader of a main opposition party.

More seriously, Ghanaians are becoming increasingly concerned about Atta Mills' health as a President of Ghana, and his virtual control by ex-President Jerry Rawlings and his wife, Nana Konadu Agyemang-Rawlings.

Under the brutal grip of the Rawlingses, Atta Mills is under some sort of a shadow of the powerful Rawlingses, and it appears he hasn't been able to extricate himself from their virtual control of his thinking and sense of direction.

When the US President George Bush visited Ghana in February, 2008, for some unexplained political reasons, Atta Mills said he wouldn't attend the ceremony.

Then under pressure he turned up with the Rawlins's gleefully greeting Bush, his wife and other dignitaries.

Political Ghana's concerns about Atta Mills' capacity to govern also go beyond the Bush visit.

Other Atta Mills' actions that worry Ghanaians, in the count-down to the December 7 elections, point to a presidential candidate who doesn't have what it takes to be president of a development-oriented Ghana.

 A few months ago, Atta Mills failed to turn up in a Kumasi forum organized by the Trade Union Congress for presidential candidates to talk about their labour policies in a Ghana where unemployment is a vexing issue.

And yet among others, Atta Mills failed to grace a seminar forum organised by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Centre for Renewable Energy for presidential candidates to discuss how they would solve Ghana's energy problems.

As if to say 'enough is enough', he willingly or unwillingly turned up for the Presidential candidates' debate organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs last week in Accra. During that October 29 debate, the Daily Guide observed concerning the performance of Atta Mills.

 "Signs of lethargy and weariness were evident on him during the debate which became more obvious when he tried to raise his voice in an aggressive manner…

[Atta Mills] appeared to be angry with himself.'

Is Atta Mills under too much pressure as a presidential candidate? Can he stand the rigours of presidential office? Is he being troubled by the Rawlingses' huge appetite for power?

If Atta Mills is uncomfortable with the burden of being a presidential candidate within the walls of the Rawlingses' autocracy, why is he still in the race? Why can't he back out of the race?

A few months ago Accra-based The Chronicle reported that an Atta Mills presidency would see Jerry Rawlings as a security chief that will make him virtually control the entire Mills-led government machinery.

More gravely, as the Daily Guide observed of the Rawlingses' various campaigns statements, 'instead of telling the electorate about the policies of Prof. Mills, the former President used his six-day tour of the Ashanti region to blow his own horn and attack the Kufuor administration.'

For the sake of Ghana's greater progress, against the backdrop of its worrisome history of senseless military juntas and frightening one-party regimes, and how to consolidate its toddler democracy, in an atmosphere of peace, is Prof. John Evans Atta Mills fit to be President of the Republic of Ghana?

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