?We Don?t Want Prof. Atta Mills? ? A Rejoinder

Tue, 21 Jun 2005 Source: Bottah, Eric Kwasi

The original newsletter to the above headline was carried by Peace FM and posted on Ghanaweb on Friday June 10, 2005. Before the headline grabbing attention posed by the newswire I guess it was the wandering guesstimates by many a Ghanaian political spectator or commentator whether Prof. Attah Mills

had any plans to carry the torch for the biggest opposition party, NDC, in Ghana, come the 2008 election.

The newswire said among other things and I quote ?The followers of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Ashanti Region have rejected the statement made by the former vice-president, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills that he will be back in 2008 during the ?wahala' demonstration held in Kumasi?.

?According to them, they would not see any meaningful impact if Prof. Mills leads the party in 2008, adding that he has failed two consecutive times, so he should stay away for young and dynamic politicians to lead the party in 2008. A top gun in the NDC disclosed that among other objectives is the proposal to have the former President and his Vice retire from active politics, adding that it will be good for Prof. Mills to stay away for the party to be ?replenished' by very virile men who once upon a time, rallied round the umbrella?.

The unmistaken assumption by the NDC followers was like it was Prof. Mills fault in some way why the NDC did not win the last election. This article was purposely written to debunk some of the assumptions and blames going around.

Seriously the NDC did not lose because of Prof. Mills; it lost because in the minds of Ghanaians, rightly or wrongly, the party had been in power for almost 20 years starting from the birth of the PNDC, since the PNDC metamorphosed to NDC with the same group of key players. And most Ghanaians are/were in no hurry to bring back the NDC in a matter of just 4 years break. They kind of opined they have seen it all, in 20 years they?ve seen the best P/NDC could offer and decidedly voted for something new.

Again this is a free advice to the NDC. They have to be mindful that all politics are local and require well-heeled money war chest. They have got to get competent and unblemished people not so associated with the negatives of the P/NDC to redeem the image of the party. As at now the NDC apart from a handful of Akan faces is largely seen as non-Akan party. It is not like they are not trying to win Akans rather the Akans have not gotten over the idea that they were the targets of most of Rawlings's revolutionary persecution. Proof of that, most people who left the shores of Ghana during the revolutionary days were Akans who felt politics has gone to the dogs. Most people who were drilled and beaten in public and had their assets confiscated or sold at ridiculous "control" prices were Akans and the soldiers who carried out that vendetta were largely Ewes. Memories last forever and the P/NDC can't escape that image. They say the elephant never forgets. Is it any wonder the NPP has the elephant as its symbol?

Add to that Rawlings's humiliation, slapping and beatings of largely Akan cabinet members (e.g. Ackaa and Kwesi Botchwey) of his party. Our people are in the habit of transfixing and transferring upon themselves such humiliations. Can you imagine Kufour slapping say Major Courage Quashiga or Alhaji Aliu? If you thought Kufour had it hard securing votes from the North and Volta Regions - still angry over Victor Owusu's name calling - a slap from Kufour to any of the aforementioned people would have burnished for ever in the minds of the people of those regions were these ministers come from and garner him ZERO votes.

Rawlings though is the main draw for the NDC he has to go to the people with a contrite voice and humility to ask for genuine forgiveness for his misdeeds, not the current image of pomposity and arrogance. How can anybody expect to win the presidency in Ghana without the majority Akans? But that is what the NDC is. It is largely a non-Akan party and presents themselves like that. Even in the Akan areas where they won, you would notice it is largely at places with heavy concentration of non-Akans. Chairpersons at the local ridings in Akan areas often happen to be non-Akans. Most of the people here would think I am exaggerating things but just look at the lineup of the NDC top ranks. The Akans in them, apart from Prof. Mills hold non-significant positions in the party. The people are not blind they can see all that.

There is also an economic and geographical reason why the NDC lost and may lose again if they don't retool themselves. I would encourage you to look at the economic geography of Ghana. Six out of the ten regions in Ghana have overwhelming majority of Akans even in Greater Accra. These six regions - Ashanti, Brong Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Western and Greater Accra command 80% of Ghana's productive forces and GDP. Juxtapose population distribution and you would realize the six regions are also largely Akan areas. They have money, and do not buy the socialism hogwash. They are rather fiscally conservative and believe in doing their own business instead of looking up to the central government. They guard jealously their apparent or relative wealth and do not warm up to a party machinery that preaches "isms" this, ?isms? that. Kufour to his credit spent his first four years ensuring that the people in these six regions are well fed or taken care off through his Special Presidential Initiatives (PSI) and support for the cocoa industry. They also rewarded him by returning him to power. The trick: - economic empowerment, good governance and unbridled freedoms of speech and association. You can't beat that.

Eric Kwasi Bottah, alias Oyokoba
Philadelphia, PA, USA

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Bottah, Eric Kwasi