Nov. 3, Lens -- Prof. John Evans Atta-Mills has concluded a 9-day campaign tour of the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions, and judging from the unbelievably ecstatic response he obtained from the several thousands of people that he interacted with in his tours of these four regions, there is no overstating the fact that the NDC is well on its way to wresting power from the grip of the ruling NPP.
Prof. Mills and his entourage were forced on a number of occasions to vary their programme in order to fulfil the urgent needs of many communities to host him and share their concerns with him.
As he made his rounds through community after community, what became very clear was that Prof. Mills and the NDC did not have to tell the people that the NPP has failed, since the people themselves seem to have come to that conclusion and are evidently only waiting for December 7th to give expression to their anger and disappointment at the incompetent Kufuor administration.
Indeed at some point, one even got the distinct impression that Prof. Mills was not the one canvassing people for votes, but instead it was the people who were urging Prof. Mills to stand and redeem them from the oppressive and insensitive policies that the Kufuor-led NPP government has inflicted on them over nearly four years.
The main theme of Prof Mills' speech to the people of these regions was the need for them to reject the NPP because it has failed Ghanaians. He urged them to instead return the NDC to power to enable it continue with its human centered policies.
During the tour, Prof. Mills pointed out the fact that one of the planks of the NPP's campaign message in the 2000 elections was the living standard of the people, culminating in the NPP coining the slogan "Hwe w'asetena mu". He said that slogan is still very relevant today, and called on the people to judge if their living standards have improved or deteriorated under the NPP.
Prof. Mills explained that between 1999 and 2000 the unfair world trade order caused the economy of the country to suffer some difficulties, and the NDC being conscious of the devastating impact increases in utility tariffs and petroleum products would have had on the people, decided to shield the people of this country from those consequences by subsidising those services, which the NPP then described as mismanagement of the economy.
"This time the truth will prevail over lies and deceit, and light will also prevail over darkness and all kinds of malpractices" he prophesied, continuing that, "People are now clearly awake to compare the government of the NDC in eight years and that of the NPP's (New Patriotic Party) four years. You cannot fool all the people all the times."
Prof. Mills also explained that the NDC is not against National Health Insurance per se, but it has a problem with the manner the policy is being implemented by the NPP. He said under his leadership, the NDC would establish a national health fund along the lines of the GetFund for the National Health Insurance scheme, explaining that this would ensure that the objective would be achieved without unnecessarily burdening the already impoverished people of this country further.
He lamented the fact that Ghana has currently slipped back into becoming a guinea-worm endemic country, pointing out that at the time the NDC was leaving office in 2000 Ghana was one of the countries where guinea-worm infestation had been brought severely under control as to be almost eradicated.
The success of the guinea-worm eradication programme under the NDC, Prof. Mills pointed out, was as a result of conscious and deliberate policies and efforts at providing rural communities, especially guinea-worm prone areas, with potable drinking water, which drastically reduced the dependence by people in those communities on unhygienic sources of water. Prof. Mills made it clear that the NDC will establish a "Water Fund" that will be utilised to support any water production and distribution system. "The NDC is against any policy that would see water production and distribution being driven by the 'profit motive'. We take serious our objective to ensure that every community in Ghana has access to safe water," Prof. Mills said.
He said when voted back to power, the NDC would revisit its planned 10-year water programme under which communities with population below 500 will be provided with hand dug wells, those with population between 500 and 2,000 will be provided with boreholes, and communities with population over 2,000 will be provided with piped systems, as enumerated in the NDC's 2004 manifesto.
On Education, Prof. Mills pointed out that not only have school fees gone up under the NPP, but also there have been numerous unexplained additional fees and levies imposed on parents. He invited the people to recall the adverts that the NPP used to run on television in 2000 showing school children complaining that they were unable to go to school because their parents could not afford the school fees, and asked the people if the school fees have come down or gone up under the NPP.
A Mills Presidency, he assures, will not pursue policies that would end up making education the preserve of the rich, by making education not only accessible to all but also very affordable. "That is what we set up the GetFund to achieve," he explained.
Prof. Mills noted that if the country is to witness an issues-driven campaign then it is important that the leaders of the political parties are heard in a debate on the issues. To this end he challenged President Kufuor to a debate "anytime, anywhere".