John Atta Mills (NDC)

John Atta Mills (NDC)

By David Amanor

BBC Focus on Africa Magazine October - December 2008


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John Atta Mills won the National Democratic Congress party ticket by an overwhelming 81 per cent to run for president, despite having challenged and lost twice to John Kufuor – in 2000 and 2004.

He served as vice-president to Jerry Rawlings between 1997 and January 2001 and created a stir by saying that if elected he would consult with the former president.

At a glance

John Atta Mills campaign poster

Nickname: Prof
Party: National Democratic Congress (NDC)
Age: 64
Home Town: Ekumfi Otuam, Central Region
Executive posts: Vice-president 1997-2000
Profession: Teacher

This time around he has distanced himself from Rawlings, even drawing criticism from his former boss for being too gentle with the ruling NPP.

In contrast to Nana Akufo-Addo's NPP advertising boards, Atta Mills began his campaign with modest-sized signboards bearing the slogan "I Believe in Ghana".

He describes himself as a social democrat, leaning broadly on independence leader Kwame Nkrumah's idea of social welfare, while attempting a more inclusive and less polarising political platform than both Nkrumah and Rawlings.

He studied law in Ghana and took a doctorate in taxation and economic development in the UK.

"The Prof", as he is known, has pursued a long academic career and is also a member of several organisations such as the Tax Review Commission.

As vice-president, he was also head of the government’s Economic Management Team responsible for overseeing the introduction of Value Added Tax and the Ghana Education Trust Fund.

Married with one child, he is a keen hockey player, at one time a member of the national team, and likes swimming.

He is a former chairman of the Ghana Hockey Association, National Sports Council of Ghana and Black Stars Management Committee.

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