“No vile political spinning and falsehood would derail my unwavering commitment to implement innovative policy initiatives to improve the living condition of the people. From the onset of my pledge to roll out the free SHS education policy, some unbelievers cast doubts on my ability to make it happen. They said “he can’t do it”, “it is not possible”, “it is a ploy to win votes”. But by the grace of God, it is working for all” – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Yes, indeed, it is working for all and not only for the supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). After all, when the rain falls, it does not fall on one man’s house. It was the late Professor Kofi Abrefa Busia – Prime Minister of Ghana – who told Ghanaians that if you want to do politics in Ghana, you must have a big stomach to harbour nonsense. Anytime the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is in opposition their actions point to the fact that they do not wish the country well. To them, any success story of the ruling government is bad news because it stands on their way to come back to power. They have followed that path and continue to follow that path all the way to where it ends in the ‘unmarked grave of discarded lies’ of history.
During the 2000 electioneering campaign, then candidate Agyekum Kufuor promised Ghanaians that if he was voted into power he would abolish the killer ‘Cash and Carry’ system of health delivery in this country. In fact, Kufuor did not tell Ghanaians how he was going to abolish the ‘Cash and Carry’ system so Ghanaians kept guessing how a system which was introduced by President Rawlings could be abolished since the system had been operating for 19 years of the Rawlings regime. Unknown to Ghanaians, the ‘Gentle Giant’ had all his cards on his chest. After all, did the sages not say if a blind man tells you he will throw a stone at you, he might be having his foot on a stone? In those days, the late Professor Atta Mills went to Wa in the Upper West Region to campaign there; he told the gullible listeners that it was a ploy and that Kufuor was throwing dust into the eyes of Ghanaians because he wanted votes. Barely six months after being voted into power, President Kufuor assembled a team of experts to formulate a plan for the introduction of a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) on a pilot basis. A bill was laid before parliament for the implementation of the NHIS. The NDC parliamentarians walked out and refused to be part of the discussions. Thankfully, because the NPP had majority members in the august house, the bill was passed into law. Again, in 2004, the NDC told Ghanaians that the NHIS introduced by Kufuor was not the best and that when they come to power, they will introduce a one-term premium because not everybody could afford to pay the premium every year. For the eight years that the NDC government held the country at ransom, the dream of a one-term premium became elusive synonymous with trying to find a needle in the Atlantic Ocean. To add insult to injury, they virtually collapsed the scheme before leaving office. The sad aspect of the whole scenario is that they shamelessly used the scheme to canvass for votes. They registered people for free and pleaded to those registered to vote for the NDC.
Looking at my crystal ball, I can see crestfallen NDC communicators unable to criticise the Nana Addo Administration in 2019 when all SHS students will continue to enjoy the free SHS. For now, all that they are saying is that they do not see the reason why students in form three are not enjoying the free SHS. What is going to happen is that in 2019, students in form one, two and three will all go to SHS for free. That is where the NDC communicators will realize that they have nothing to say anymore. When the programme was rolled out, they made so much noise about accommodation and other facilities. This year, they have continued with their diabolic criticisms and have shifted the goal post to quality education. They say because of the huge number of students who have now gotten access to SHS, quality will be compromised. What is going to hit them in their faces is that when the Chinese come storming with the two billion-dollar barter system with its accompanying massive infrastructural projects, which include school blocks, the problem of accommodation will be solved and they will have nothing to say again. That was the reason why they ran to the IMF to make sure the Chinese deal is not realized. And when you call them nation wreckers, they refuse to accept it.
When I was schooling in my holy village during the days of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, I never heard of anything called “school fees”. In those days, if you had seen the makeshift classroom that we sat in to learn, you would have taken the Osagyefo to The Hague to face trial for committing ‘crime’ against humanity. Even the blackboard could not contain three sentences. Because there was no middle school in my holy village, we had to walk four miles every day to attend school at the nearest town which had a middle school. Our teachers did not consider us when we went to school late. To them, the fact that we had to walk four miles to school was not an excuse for us to be late. At a point in time, we became accustomed to spanking because we became habitual late comers because of the distance between our holy village and where we were attending middle school.
Those of us who passed the Common Entrance Examination found ourselves schooling in big cities like Accra, Takoradi, Kumasi, Cape Coast, etc. In fact, those of us who attended schools in Takoradi, Cape Coast and other coastal towns had not seen the sea before and we became baffled when we saw the huge Atlantic Ocean. At the end of the day, it dawned on us that it was not where you came from that matters but where you were going.
The reason why I am highly excited and agitated about this free SHS systemn is that like the free education introduced by Osagyefo in the two northern regions, no government will try to change the system if voted to power. Ironically, the loud-mouthed NDC communicators who are always on air, criticising the programme are getting on the nerves of the poor parents in the villages who can now send their wards to senior high schools. Two years ago, some parents had to sell their property in order to get monies to send their wards to school. Some teachers in particular had to mortgage their salaries at banks and credit unions in order to enroll their wards in schools. Banks and credit unions which gave these teachers loans are still deducting the monies from the salaries of the poor teachers. If the child of a teacher who is still paying back loans he contracted is now going to SHS free, what do you think this teacher will tell anyone who bastardizes the free SHS? Today, they are praising the Akufo- Addo government for assuaging their pains and sufferings.
During the 2012 electioneering campaign, John Mahama and his cohorts told us that it would take 20 years for the country to introduce free SHS. In fact, Okudjeto Ablakwa told us recently that in five years’ time, the free SHS will collapse. We are waiting for his prophesy to come true. But if it happens that the programme continues after five years, this boy should start wearing a crush helmet. Some NDC communicators have made a U turn by telling Ghanaians that they support the free SHS programme but Nana should have waited ‘small’. We are not deceived by their hypocrisy; after all, they had eight years to govern this country and all that they did was to amass wealth for themselves and their cronies. To them, everything that will benefit the poor Ghanaian is impossible to achieve.
Parents who have besieged school campuses to register their children should move in sympathy with the school authorities. We are aware of the inconveniences and the delays that may accompany the registration but it is a matter of time. As far as this free SHS and the double-track system is concerned, the president and his cabinet will define their time; they shouldn’t allow the NDC to define it. For eight years, the NDC did not dream of a free SHS. Under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo, we have found our mission and our moment. The free SHS and the double-track system are not open to negotiation or discussion. That is the naked truth and those who think the president will backtrack are fooling themselves. They should rather put up or shut up. Anytime these accomplished failures called NDC talk of the government not doing broad consultation before implementing the free SHS, I ask myself: where broad consultation means what?. Are they telling Ghanaians that Nana Addo sat in his room and planned the whole thing with his wife and children?
There is one presidential habit which Nana Addo possesses and which few people have come to realise. He refuses to be distracted. In the face of all the cacophonous noises being made by the NDC, he keeps his silence because he believes silence is golden. Even when he is being provoked, he refuses to go down the gutters. He believes that the shortest way to go anywhere is to go straight. That is the mark of an ambitious president who is in a hurry. Good Lord! The nip of my fountain pen has broken so I can’t write anymore.