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15.01.2009 NDC News

Mills caught in NDC power struggle

By The Statesman
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President -declared, Professor John Atta-Mills is coming under increasing pressure from his ruling National Democratic Congress to find places for party foot soldiers in his imminent cabinet.

According to a Voice of America report filed yesterday, some members of the NDC are reportedly claiming they are being left out after being in the trenches and fighting hard to ensure the party's success in the December 28 election run-off.

Ghanaians have been baffled by the announcement from the Presidency that the President can only name his Cabinet at the end of the month. Prof Mills, who has waited for the opportunity to rule this nation for the last eight years promised Ghanaians that he would hit the ground running.

Yet, only four substantive members of his government have been so far named - Brigadier General Nunoo-Mensah as his National Security Advisor, Mahama Ayariga as presidential spokesman, John Henry Martey Newman for Chief of Staff, and James Bebako Mensah as Secretary to the President.

Though he named certain people to take temporary charge of certain key ministries, the President has not been able to confirm them as substantive nominees for the respective portfolios.

* They are: Akwasi Oppong-Ofosu - Ministry for Local Government Rural Development and Environment, Defense Ministry, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni - Interior Ministry, Togbe Afede XIV (head), Moses Asaga and Kwabena Duffuor - Finance Ministry.

At the heart of the delay is a bitter power struggle. The Ahwois and the others with long standing relationship with Prof Mills have their own tall list. In the other corner is the former President Rawlings group, which is pushing for Mrs Rawlings for Foreign Minister - a position that future presidential hopeful, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah is also interested in.

Hidden far from public view but very much at the centre of the power game is security supremo Kojo Tsikata, the man who is accredited by insiders for making 'victory" '08 a reality.

Already, the Blue Gate, Capt (rtd) Tsikata"s former base is being quarantined a no-go-area for Brig (rtd) Nunoo-Mensah. The former National Security Advisor wants his trusted Lieutenant, Col. (rtd) Asasi-Gyimah to be the titular head of Blue Gate, the Office of National Security.

Totobo Quakyi also has a claim on who actually takes occupancy there.

Then there is the Kwabena Adjei-Aseidu Nketia group from Kokomlemle, the party headquarters, who have their own list of who should be rewarded.

Beyond that are the young guns, who were seen and heard at the frontline of campaign '08.

Prof Mills is in a fix. He promised in his manifesto to make a minimum of 40% of government and public appointments go to women.

He did not leave there, went further before the nation at the IEA forum to say 40% of Cabinet positions will go to women. However, he has also pledged that he would have a slimmer cabinet and appoint fewer ministers.

He had criticised the NPP way of grooming the young intelligentsia with appointments as Special Assistants.

Prof Mills and his party leadership, including Hannah Tetteh have spoken strongly against this - more so before the 2004 polls.

NDC insider, Alhaji Idrissu Bature tells VOA reporter Peter Clottey that the ruling NDC party faithful are scurrying for jobs within the new administration.

"There has been much scramble for position in recognition among closest aides to the president and also among the party faithful and even people who are not known to be members of the ruling National Democratic Congress. And for me, I think it is very unfortunate,' he said.

He said there is need for people around the new president that governance is significantly different from playing partisan politics.

He sharply disagreed with speculations that former President Jerry Rawlings would be pulling strings behind the scene after newly elected President Atta-Mills appointed some of members of the former president's cabinet to head the incoming transitional team.

"That is rather the opposite. I can tell you for a fact that among those who are grumbling includes the former President (Rawlings)… so the question of putting him in charge of governmental affairs doesn't arise at all.

And I can tell you for a fact that President John Evans Atta-Mills is in full control of the administration of this country,' he said.

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