Former Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, in his book, ‘Working With Rawlings’ has disclosed how the late Professor John Evans Atta Mills was captured by Jerry John Rawlings barely a week to the filing of nominations for the presidential elections in 1996.
He narrated that things were getting desperate for the party as Prof. George Benneh, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in the third Republic and Prof. Samuel Kwasi Agyapong, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, had both declined the offer.
According to him, in the midst of this desperation and in very fortuitous circumstances, he came up with what eventually turned out to be the solution to the party’s dilemma.
He recounted that Prof. Mills had just lost to Prof. Ivan Addae-Mensah by a single vote in the University of Ghana Governing Council for the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana.
The Minister of Education, Harry Sawyer, whose preferred candidate for the Vice Chancellorship position was Professor Mills with whom he shared some Accra Hearts of Oak affinity, spoke passionately in a Cabinet meeting about Prof. Mills and how he wished Prof. Mills had won the position.
He said after the meeting he went to the office of Dr Obed Asamoah, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and a member of one of the search teams for a Vice Presidential candidate and suggested to him that the Professor fitted the bill of what it took to be the NDC’s Vice- Presidential candidate.
“Obed Asamoah’s reaction was immediate and almost instinctive,” he wrote.
He spoke to President Rawlings and I was asked to ensure that Atta Mills was on the ticket.
“Please go to the Professor’s house or wherever you may find him today and do whatever you can to get him to come on the ticket. Do not leave until he has agreed,” Mr Ahwoi said as he was assigned by Mr Rawlings.