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01.04.2004 General News

Candidate Mills Is Broke

By Statesman
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It is official, Except that it is meant to be kept under strong lock and key in the empty yaults at the party's headquarters at Kokomlemle, Accra.

The National Democratic Congress broke, Prof John Evans Atta Mills' campaign locomotive is gasping for diesel. The trouble, according to our investigation, is not so much to do with the lack of access to funds. The trouble is more with Prof. Mills.

Potential financiers, including the former First Lady, are allegedly unconvinced that the NDC leader has what it takes to destool President John Agyekum Kufour in the December race.

Moreover, this month has been very much a 'March of Disaster' for the party, following Prof Mills' State of the Nation Address'. It was quickly drowned by Tony Aidoo's Mumu speech, Rawlings,' Ashiaman Bad Boy assault and E.T. Mensah's insults of NPP voting Gas. Since money is said not to like noise, the negative publicity is probably contributing to the potential financier contributors choosing to shy away. Nearly two years ago, Prof Mills, our information indicates, had promised to build a war chest of $10 million (¢92 billion) to fight the 2004 election campaign.

Since winning the NDC leadership race in December 2002, Prof Mills has knocked on all kinds of doors – from Ghana, through South Africa, UK to the US. But the biblical opening has hugely eluded him. Not even the Ali Baba magic could open the Sesame doors of Dubai to where their quests for funds have magic carpeted the NDC fundraisers.

The party has also been excessively hit by stringent post-September 11 money-laundering laws. Shifting huge sums of money across the globe is extremely difficult now. In fact, it is even nigh impossible to buy a motor vehicle in Europe or North America with cash. Investigations further indicate that the NDC has approached some reasonably well-to-do Ghanaians promising them a cut if they would allow their local bank accounts to be used as a conduit to transfer cash into the country for the party.

However, the big spenders are said to be increasingly getting cold feet over the idea of extending funds to the party for the 2004 campaign. While there is real fear that the money laundering vigilance might ensnare them, the other trepidation, more closer home, is that there is little confidence in the winnability of Presidential Candidate Mills. Some NDC Parliamentarians are still weighing the wisdom in using their personal (or borrowed) funds to fight to retain seats which are considered to be at risk.

A former big contributor to the previous ruling party, (who spoke to us under anonymity) had this to say: “Yes, I was lucky enough to build up quite a lot of money before. But, most of the old tap lines were blocked when your people came into power. My face simply didn't fit anymore. There are many like me who became more like economic pariahs when the NDC lost. The dilemma was as simple this: 'Do I throw what I have left behind Mills and pray that he wins or just protect what I have left and hope that this Government will grow-up and re-open opportunities for me?” He concluded that it was not that difficult to make a choice: “I seriously can't see how Mills can win. I like the man I like my money and the future of my children more!” he said with an embarrassed chuckle.

The evidence of the NDC's impoverished state is all around the constituencies. NDC branches up and down the country are manned by despondent activists who complain about the lack of basic amenities. In the Eastern and Ashanti Regions, for example, many branch offices have not only lost their colour but have also been converted to shops and residential accommodation. Those that remain open are hardly operational and mostly empty. They resemble anything but the offices of a government-in-waiting.

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