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19.11.2008 Elections

Atta Mills applauds Nana -And Nduom sings 'We are moving forward'

By The Statesman

LAST week, John Evans Atta Mills caught himself doing exactly what he has been ordered not to do: acknowledge the superiority of the policies and programmes proposed by an Akufo-Addo government.

What most television viewers saw at the end of the Institute of Economic Affairs-organised second Presidential Debate in Tamale was sustained applause by the audience after NPP flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo had delivered his closing remarks.

But what most viewers missed from the television coverage was the fact that the applause was not limited to the audience, but was briefly led by Professor Mills himself on stage.

Obviously overcome by the NPP flagbearer's eloquent sentiments, the NDC flagbearer apparently forgot that his own message has been at odds with the very views he was applauding.

 It was the talk of the town later that night that the NDC man had unthinkingly led the applause from the stage before catching himself and bringing his clapping under control.

But the NDC flagbearer is not alone in consciously or unconsciously buying into the NPP message of hope and belief in oneself and Ghana.

 Last Sunday, CPP flagbearer Paa Kwesi Nduom, worshiping at Action Chapel, Accra, was offered the opportunity to appeal to the congregation for votes. At the end of his allotted 10 minutes, he launched into his party"s "Work and Happiness' anthem but botched it.

Undeterred, he swung into what popped into his head on the spur of the moment, 'Yere Ko yen anim', to wit, We are Moving Forward - the NPP's core message going into next month's elections.

The congregants, understandably, responded with the NPP's 'kangaroo' dance, to the chagrin of the CPP entourage.

Nana Akufo-Addo has been universally praised for his performance in the Tamale debate, which followed steady but unspectacular performances by the two leading candidates in the first presidential debate in Accra.

Last week, though, it is widely accepted that the NPP man let his audience see his personal side, showing more of the personality behind the leadership qualities.

Arguably the moment that summed up the shift was when he made his closing remarks. Akufo-Addo did not restrict himself to his prepared comments, managing instead to weave in brief reminders of his positions on the key points that had arisen over the evening.

 Akufo-Addo's delivery and his message stressing the NPP's core principals clearly connected with the millions listening and watching around the country. At the event itself, his final remarks were met with a standout round of applause from the entire audience.

During the debate, while trying to play down the achievements of the Kufuor administration, on which Nana Akufo-Addo will implement an ambitious programme aimed at moving Ghana to the status of a first world country, Prof Mills embarked on a major dust throwing exercise.

For instance, how the former law lecturer and Vice President could seek to take away the deserved credit of the Kufuor administration for the successful qualification and participation in the 2006 World Cup by the Black Stars got pundits dazed.

This comes on the heels of the shocking assertion, made at the first debate in Accra, that the contribution of manufacturing to Ghana's Gross Domestic Product was zero, even negative. He was rightly corrected by the NPP flagbearer.

In fairness to him, it is not such a surprise that the two men can find common ground and respect one another even as they might disagree.

Along with the PNC candidate, Edward Mahama, Mills and Akufo-Addo were student colleagues and friends at Legon Hall in their younger days.

 As was mentioned during the course of the evening, they even shared a football pitch before sharing a debating platform.