“I will support the Vice President, Prof. Mills, if he decides to contest the 2000 presidential election”, Prof. Ahwoi quotes NDC founder Jerry John Rawlings as stating at the famous “Swedru Declaration.”
This declaration, over the years, has also been blamed by analysts as what accounted for the divisions in the NDC prior to the 2000 election.
Prof. Ahwoi notes; “Some people were of the view that President Rawlings’ intention was to state where his allegiance lies so that all those who were hoping to rely on his support in the ensuing contests for the NDC presidential candidacy, including possibly his wife, would realize that his mind was made up”.
Fast forward to 2006, Prof. Ahwoi alleges that, Mr. Rawlings had a strained relationship with his former Vice President so much so that he was urging people like businessman Eddy Annan and Ato Ahwoi to contest Prof. Mills in the flagbearer race.
By 2010 when Prof. Mills was President, Mr Rawlings had become his chief critique with his criticisms nearly causing Prof. Mills to resign, Prof. Ahwoi alleges.
These events are captured in a book authored by the former Local Government Minister Prof. Kwamena Ahwoi titled “Working with Rawlings”.
In the book, Prof. Ahwoi tries to unravel what had caused the rift between Jerry John Rawlings and Prof. Atta Mills.
Among the opinions he shares in the book is one by the current flagbearer for the NDC ahead of the 2020 elections, John Dramani Mahama.
Prof. Ahwoi writes, former “President John Dramani Mahama felt that the incessant attacks that President Rawlings launched against President Mills were unfair.
“He traced the cause of the attacks to President Mills’ refusal to prosecute members of the previous Kufuor administration.
“He said President Rawlings appeared to have a problem particularly with former President Kufuor and was unhappy that President Mills had allowed him (Kufuor) to live “a comfortable life”.
“John Mahama said President Mills used to complain to him about President Rawlings’ attacks and he had no doubt that the attacks affected President Mills psychologically.
“I am convinced that the falling out started as far back as the “Afiadenyigba incident” in 2000 but the two managed to contain and prevent it from blowing over at the time”
“The Afiadenyigba Incident”
Prof Ahwoi recalls being summoned by President Rawlings to the Castle sometime in April 2000.
“He threatened to disown and disinherit Professor Mills as the NDC’s Presidential Candidate for some “insolence that Mrs. Mills had shown to his wife, Nana Konadu at a political event at Afidenyigba in the Dangbe East District of the Greater Accra Region, and which Nana Konadu had reported to him”
Prof. Ahwoi said a three-member committee chaired by himself, with E. T Mensah then Minister for Youth and Sports and Johnny Kwadjo, then Deputy National Security Coordinator was tasked to probe the matter.
Their report, he reveals contradicted what had been reported to Mr. Rawlings.
Another NDC stalwart, Prof. Botchwey is said to have offered this view on the rift
“…Dr. Botchwey was convinced that Nana Konadu must also have played a key role in the souring of the relationship between Rawlings and Mills. In his view, even if Nana Konadu did not start it, she clearly aggravated the tensions between the two.”.
E.T Mensah is reported to have held the view that; “both Rawlings and Nana Konadu fell out with Mills because of Mills’ concession of defeat to President Kufour in the 2004 election”.
On the part of the NDC’s Chairman Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, Prof Ahwoi said he also held the view that; “Konadu had a long term hidden agenda and ambition to lead the NDC and become President of the Republic.
“She, therefore, saw Mills as a rival and as she watched Mills develop his own independent base within the NDC, she feared that not only would her husband’s charismatic hold over the party be lost; her own ambition would be lost as well”
Meanwhile, “President Mills described the ‘Rawlings’ animosity towards him as one of his greatest worries throughout his Presidency”.