Ascending to the highest office of the land is the dream of many. It is not surprising that notwithstanding all their accomplishments, gentlemen like Mr.Akuffo Addo, Dr. Paa Kwasi Ndoum and Dr. Abu Sakara have still openly advertised their quest to live this dream.
On the 7th of January 2009, one seemingly unexpectant professor was afforded the rare opportunity to star in this dream much to the delight and envy of several Ghanaians. Three and half years down the line, Ghanaians have been divided as to whether this has been a sweet dream or a terrible night mare. His supporters have heralded the ‘betterness’ of this dream whiles his opponents have viciously espoused the ‘bitterness’ of this nightmare. Call it whatever you like- a sweet dream, a bad dream or a night mare, there is something very different about this dream and the protagonist Mr. Mills is not somebody I envy at all.
President John Evans Fiifi Attah Mills is a very lucky man by all standards - how many politicians in Ghana get the opportunity to be appointed by Mr. Rawlings to lead “his” beloved NDC and also patiently watch him contest for the presidency on a record three consecutive occasions? More on the Rawlings factor later.
Some call him the ‘Asomdwe hene’ Others call him ‘Prof. Do-little’. Some liken him to a sleeping Youtong driver, whiles others metaphorically refer to him as ‘Attah the mortuary man’. Right from the onset, our pious president has known no peace. It is normal to be criticized by your political opponents but when big wigs in your own party see everything bad in what you do then you are really in big trouble. Unfortunately for our good old professor, that is exactly the situation he finds himself – troubles from both his people and his opponents.
His troubles did not take long to haunt him- right on the first day in office, the opposition was breathing down his neck to retake the presidential oath because they believe he had erred in his delivery. They claimed his mistake was unpardonable considering he, having contested the presidency on two previous occasions and having supposedly had eight years to rehears the oath, he could not have gotten it wrong.
A few weeks into his reign, certain disgruntled elements in his party were already accusing him of selecting a ‘team B’ government. The opposition questioned his Christian attributes, accusing him of winning the elections with the help of a magical ring. Political “fashion experts” were least enthused about the appearance of the president, citing his suits and shoes as old fashioned, and his haircut making him look like the headmaster of a village public school. His speeches were deemed to be as bad as the Zimbabwean ‘ecomini’and his grammatical goofs were proudly and teasingly brandished on t-shirts and downloaded as ringtones by his detractors.
Through all this, our president has remained calm and steadfast, hoping that alas time will ease his woes. But time has not changed his fortunes that much, indeed his plight has rather worsened. Even the president’s good intentions have always landed him in further trouble. He has been accused of turning the castle into a prayer camp, as if it is a bad thing to as a Christian to pray where you live. Mr. President has been liable for blame for any mishap you can think of.
When the lights go out, when the sun is too hot, when someone loses a girlfriend, when the Stars lose a match, when a visa is refused, shouts of “Oh Agya Attah!!” are sure to be heard.
His administration has been conveniently touted as the Mills-Mahama administration to signify his reliance on the efforts of his vice Mr. Mahama. For goodness sake, the President is just a true democrat who believes in delegation and the decentralization of power. Mr. Mills has been heckled and embarrassed everywhere he has been. During his last state of the nation address, he was taunted and goaded by the opposition. Even school kids in the Ashanti region prefer to refer to him as Akuffo Addo. Who born dog? While all of the above may be considered as politics as usual, there are quite a few unusual detractors.
His greatest critic has perhaps been the man who brought him into the political limelight - the life time President of Ghana, Mr. JJ Rawlings. Mr. Rawlings is certainly not a big fan of the President. He finds him boring, uninspiring, incompetent and, much recently, a traitor. And for his punishment, Mr. Rawlings sent out his wife to contest the NDC flag-bearership. The gods of politics however granted Mr. Mills a landslide victory much to the detriment of the Rawlingses who have since vowed to extract their pound of flesh come December 2012.
Even though the president decided to take the higher road, the battle lines had been drawn and as a first blow, the Rawlingses threatened to expose the President to the harsh stormy conditions of the June-July rains by claiming their ‘umbrella’. As usual, we are yet to see the President’s reaction, will he be riding at the back of a ‘sheep’, bathing with ‘soap’ or digging his political fortunes with a ‘pick axe’?
The president’s job is to lead the country and drive us into prosperity. His job is to outline a vision for the country and surround himself with people who can execute this vision. It’s hard to say if all the struggles of the Mills administration are due to the political sideshows. In as much as I feel sorry for the president, I have to reluctantly accept that perhaps he has brought all this upon himself.
Why the president still surrounds himself with people like Koku Anyidoho, who will seize every opportunity to vindicate those who believe that the president is weak and not in control, still beats me. I understand that he may not want to lose the few friends he has but here is a friend who consistently leaves the door open (to let in the mosquitoes). Mills has an Anyidoho problem and that is a big problem.
It is very difficult to please an opposition that acts like it has a divine right to govern, but it is even more difficult to please a friend who sees you as a traitor. It must be really difficult to be the leader of a party that is owned by another man and his family. It must be extremely difficult to have your few remaining friends make your office appear to be a circus with no ring-master.
As distinguished a man as he is, he is better off as an ex-president than he is as the butt of all political jokes and the chewing stick of talking heads on TV. For those who despise the President, they can at least take solace in the fact that he has made the Presidency less attractive and we are sure not to have 19 people contesting to be President again. There is very little enviable about being President Atta Mills. He has “earned” his ex gratia.
For those who feel sorry for the President and his many troubles, you can take solace in the fact that he still has a smile and is declaring victory in December.
There are many things I would like to be. I would like to have a glamorous job and a beautiful wife. I would like to own a house on a hill and have a few good and dependable friends. I would even like to turn on the TV every now and then and hear pundits discussing progressive issues of national development. But being President John Atta Mills is not something I would like to be.
Source: Kwame Yeboah/[email protected]
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