Professor John Evans Atta Mills, National Democratic Congress (NDC) Presidential Candidate has discounted speculations that the utterances of ex-President Jerry John Rawlings would jeopardize the chances of the NDC in the 2004 elections.
“Well you have seen my campaign and strategies; I am yet to come across any utterances of the former President which tend to jeopardize my chances. I really don't know. But in many cases these are statements that are coming from people who are strong enemies of the NDC,” he said.
Prof. Mills who made this observation in a chat with The Chronicle after a tortuous visit to various polling stations in the Central Region to acquaint himself with the registration exercise, said the former president knew what to do and what to talk about and should be allowed to exercise his democratic rights.
Describing Mr. Rawlings as a charismatic leader who draws the crowd, the NDC flag bearer said the former President would feature in the campaign team of the NDC, adding, “I don't think that anybody should attempt to restrict him from making statements. He should be encouraged to do so.”
According to him, the NDC, determined to win this year's election, would work as a team to include the former president by comparing notes and by exchanging ideas. “We are going to work as a team. Of course I believe that we would compare notes and exchange ideas so that we carry a uniform message.”
Prof. Mills expressed support for the call by Mr. Rawlings for peace and unity, saying, “We all have to work hard towards it. It is true that we want political power, but Ghana is more important than any one of us. We have to consider our actions and the way we conduct ourselves and we must do all this with the view to achieving national unity. I think that it is a good call and I support it,” he said.
Prof. Mills, the former Vice President whose visit took him to the University of Education at Winneba, incidentally met the students conducting elections. He promised to give better and quality education when given power.
Asked how he would do it, Prof. Mills told The Chronicle: “I believe that the basic factor of improving education is the GETfund. Look you cannot achieve excellence in education unless you invest.
Education is all about investment. You are not going to have a dramatic improvement unless you are prepared to invest.”
According to the former Vice President, there would be no arrears of the GETFund when he assumed power in 2005, adding that the money would be disbursed for the intended purposes.
Reacting to the rousing welcome he received from the people including students, market women and fishermen he said, it pointed to the fact that the chances of the NDC were bright in regaining power.
“I believe that the signs are very encouraging but as I keep saying these signs tell me that we should not be complacent and that we need to work hard.”
Prof. Mills said it now behooved the party to intensify its efforts by contacting people not through rallies but from house to house to explain the party's policies and ideas to the electorate.
He dismissed fears of any danger ahead considering reports of alleged intimidation and harassment of political opponents, saying: “I do agree with people who say that there is too much tension in the country. This is not the first time that we are having the voter registration exercise. We have had it in the past years with lapses here and there but we took them.”
“But now people are reading meaning into every little thing that is happening”, he said.
“There are suspicions all around. If you go to some polling stations you can even see in the faces of some of the poling agents spying one another. I think that there must be something definite to calm down the tension. There is too much mistrust in the system and I think that the leaders owe it to themselves and to mother Ghana to do something about it.”
Prof. Mills stressed the need to disabuse the minds of followers of the various political parties.