Daily Guide -- THE RACE for the election of a presidential candidate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to contest the 2008 general elections, appears to have kicked off, but rather on a sad note, as supporters of the twice, defeated flagbearer of the party, Prof John Evans Atta Mills, go on the offensive, and thereby attacking anybody who stands between them and their man's third bid. Prof Mills' loyalists in NDC, Daily Guide learnt, have declared, there is no vacancy in the presidential bid of the party, indicating that, for former law lecturer at the University of Ghana, should go unopposed in the bid to wrest power from the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
The “no vacancy” chorus was recently sung to Hon John Dramani Mahama, MP for Bole/Bamboi, and a potential presidential candidate for the party.
Hon Mahama, NDC Director of Communications, Daily Guide learnt, was told by rabid supporters of Prof Mills that, if he wants to stand for the presidency of the Republic of Ghana, he should go to his father's party, Kwame Nkrumah's Convention People's Party (CPP), where there is a vacancy for a presidential candidate.
The Bole MP's late father, Mr. E.A. Mahama, was the Northern Regional Commissioner during the Nkrumah regime.
Even though John Mahama declined to comment when Daily Guide contacted him, the unassuming Bole MP is said to have taken the comment from Prof Mills' camp with a philosophical calmness, as he went about his duties, diligently. John, who has not been happy about certain decisions emanating from the NDC hierarchy in recent times, especially its severance of relationship with the civil society organisation, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), is said to command a lot of support in the party.
NDC supporters, who share the views of the party national chairman, Dr. Obed Asamoah, that Prof Mills is not a winnable candidate, think it is time the party looked elsewhere for salvation. The supporters said John Mahama has the potential to lead NDC to victory. Anything short of that, they said, will consign the NDC to perpetual opposition. Even though Prof Mills declined to comment on his future role in politics, a foot-soldier, such as Elvis Ankrah, thinks that the former vice president is the best thing that has happened to NDC.
Elvis, who is gunning for the NDC deputy general secretary position, when the party goes to congress on December 17, 2005, to prepare the ground for Prof Mills' third attempt at the presidency, told Daily Guide recently that, the former vice president is the only person who can win power for NDC.
The pro-Mills campaigners are of the view that, having contested twice, Prof Mills is the face most known among most Ghanaian electorate, especially as President Kufuor would be exiting the presidential race in 2008.
They, therefore, suggested, any attempts at changing a candidate, would spell doom for the party.
However, the “Mills must go” supporters, are of the view that, the former taxation law lecturer is only a liability in the party, and remains unattractive to the electorate, especially as he consistently ties his apron strings to the former “cowboy” president, JJ Rawlings.
According to them, with the humiliating defeat of Prof Mills in the 2004 elections, especially in his Central Region home-base, where NDC lost all its parliamentary seats, except two, to NPP, the defeated flagbearer has lost the moral right to lead the party, again.
One of the “Mills Must Go”campaigners, Prince Adam, a former cadre of the PNDC days, Daily Guide, learnt was given a severe heckling, including a slap by certain Mills supporters, recently.
Prince Adam, who believes NDC deserves a stronger candidate, other than Prof Mills, was said to have been brutalised at Accra's Konkomba Market in the run-up to the Odododiodioo by-election.
He was said, to have engaged in a fierce debate with Mills' supporters, before he was pounced upon, and left with a swollen eye.
Ironically, another leading member of NDC, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Minister of Education, and now, the Director-General of the London-based Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation also shares the sentiments of Prince Adam. Mr. Spio-Garbrah, a former staunch supporter of Prof Mills, thinks that, it would be suicidal for NDC to present Prof Mills again, without a thorough analysis of the factors that led to his defeat, in two previous elections, especially in his Central Region home-base.
Spio, who is being tipped to lead the party by another powerful lobby bloc, in NDC, recently, dashed into the country, and dutifully joined the debate about the future of NDC.
Even though he was tactically silent about the rumour of his interest in the presidency, he insisted, Prof Mills might not be the right choice to lead NDC in 2008.
NDC chairman, Dr. Obed Asamoah, has consistently, stated that, Prof Mills lacks resources to prosecute his campaign.
Confirming the NDC chairman's statement, Prof Mills was said to have told Jojo Bruce-Quansah, the embattled editor of Ghana Palaver, last Friday that, indeed, he was a “brokeman”.
Jojo, who had gone to him to solicit money to offset the court judgment debt of ¢440 million, to save his “priceless” house at Amanfrom, near Kasoa, was told that there was no money.
“You see, our people, when you are in trouble, they won't help you. I too, I don't have “tro”, Prof Mills was reported to have told Jojo.
With Prof Mills not financially buoyant to prosecute an effective campaign, more prosperous candidates, including the septuagenarian, former Defence Minister, Alhaji Iddrisu Mahama, who is said to be the trump card of some Northern elements in the party, are beginning to rear their heads. However, his opponents are of the opinion that, he lacks the charisma to attract the crucial female and youth votes.
Moreover, Prof Mills reportedly shot out of his Kuku Hill campaign office, recently, when news reached him that Iddrisu Mahama was readying himself for the presidential race. Alarmed he is reported to have said, “what sort of betrayal is this?”
Daily Guide learnt, Iddrisu Mahama wife, Betty Mould Iddrisu, is strongly suspected to be behind the attempt by her husband, to “betray” Prof Mills.