I have been in puzzled countenance ever since I read that former President Mahama has gone back on his word and promised to stay away from the restored Nurses and Teachers Allowances he deliberately cancelled in somewhere 2015 and only for the incumbent president, Akufo-Addo to restore on assumption of power in 2017.
Apparently, some well-meaning Ghanaians, rightly so, have condemned and challenged former President Mahama and his brassbound supporters to cease the needless political rhetoric and the seeming bickering and instead come up with alternative policies and programmes to counter Akufo-Addo’s numerous, albeit well-received poverty interventions such as the Free SHS, One District One Factory, One million per Constituency, One Village One Dam, Planting for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and Rural Development, Rearing for Food and Jobs, National Builders Corp (NABCO), among others.
Let us, therefore, extend our absolute respect to all the patriotic Ghanaians for urging the former president to come up with credible electioneering campaign message and put a stop to the needless criticisms.
Although former President Mahama hasn’t officially come up with 2020 electioneering campaign message, upon a critical assessment of his numerous pronouncements, we can invariably glean a cornucopia of feasible messages.
Let us however remind ourselves that it was former President Mahama who found it somewhat convenient to cancel the Teachers and Nurses Allowances while in office.
In fact, if you may remember, Ex-President Mahama vowed, somewhat unequivocally, not to restore the allowances and that he would rather prefer to lose the 2016 general elections than to offer stipends to the Trainees.
Suffice it to stress that despite the countless supplications by the Trainee Teachers and Nurses, the former president decided to spurn their earnest pleas anyhow.
But lo and behold, the dispirited Trainee Nurses and Teachers found a redeemer in Nana Akufo-Addo, who promised wholeheartedly to restore the allowances if voted into office in 2016.
As it was expected, the disheartened Trainee Teachers and Nurses reposed their absolute trusts in the candidate Nana Akufo-Addo to set them free from the untold economic hardships and massively voted him into power on 7th December 2016.
True to his word, a few months into his administration, President Akufo-Addo graciously restored the allowances to the utter delight of the Trainee Teachers and Nurses.
Dearest reader, what is Mahama’s message here then? Your guess is as good as mine.
If we revisit memory lane, one particular campaign message that dominated the 2008, 2012 and 2016 general elections was the poverty alleviation Free SHS.
While candidate Akufo-Addo and his NPP were promising on all those occasions to implement Free SHS if voted into power, candidate Mahama and his NDC were all over the place campaigning vigorously against the policy.
Interestingly, however, Ghanaians mistakenly bought into NDC’s ‘message’ in two consecutive elections (2008 and 2012) and turned down the seemingly advantageous Free SHS offer.
Nevertheless, on 7th December 2016, the good people of Ghana saw the light and gave the Free SHS ‘promiser’ (Akufo-Addo) a massive endorsement.
To his credit though, within a year into his four year mandate, President Akufo-Addo commendably implemented the Free SHS to the delight of Ghanaian parents and their children.
It is also true that no less a person than Ex-President Mahama has conveniently and persistently been criticising Akufo-Addo for implementing the Free SHS policy, allegedly, at the expense of other developmental projects (see: ‘Free SHS crippling other sectors-Mahama, classfmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 24/02/2018).
Former President Mahama was quoted to have lamented during one of the NDC’s unity health walks: “The problem this government is facing and it is in their own interest, is that, Free Senior High School is absorbing all the fiscal space they have and so almost every money you have, you are having to put it into Free Senior High School. So you can’t pay District Assemblies Common Fund, you can’t pay NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme), you can’t pay GET Fund (Ghana Education Trust Fund), you can’t pay other salaries and things because all your money is going into Free Senior High School.”
Dearest reader, what is the message here? Your guess is as good as mine.
Deductively, observers can draw and adverse inference from the preceding criticisms that Mahama does not fancy the Free SHS, and therefore he is not ready to spend huge amount of money to run the policy.
It is, therefore, not the least surprising that Mahama and the minority NDC operatives prefer “progressively free” (whatever that means) to NPP’s comprehensively free.
In fact, unless I come across as the worst performer in mathematics, I cannot fathom how and why the NDC’s ‘Progressively Free SHS’ of GH48 per student is better than the NPP’s GH1844.27 per student a year.
There is no denying or hiding the fact that NDC has a penchant for running down or cancelling crucial social interventions. It is a sad case of social democrats who do not know how to initiate and manage social interventions.
Indeed, the erstwhile NDC government wilfully cancelled/collapsed the Nurse’s Allowance, the Teacher’s Allowance, SADA, GYEEDA, NHIS, the Maternal Care, the School Feeding programme, the Mass Transport System, amongst others.
Since the inception of the Fourth Republican Constitution, the self-proclaimed social democrats have been opposing social interventions that have been proposed by the successive NPP governments such as the Free Maternal Care, the NHIS, the Metro Mass Transport, the School Feeding Programme, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), , the Free SHS, amongst others.
“The introduction of Free SHS was not built on some pompous political agenda to grab social democratic narratives from those who surprisingly have shunned their ideology for quick wins (Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta 2019).”
Given the circumstances, it will not come as a surprise at all, if the future NDC government decides to cancel the Free SHS, NABCO and the Teachers and Nurses Allowances altogether.
“Growth, development, and poverty reduction depend on the knowledge and skills that people acquire” (World Bank 2011).
Thus, it is somewhat forward-thinking for Akufo-Addo’s government to seek to bridge the ever widening social inequalities gap through rational distribution of national resources in the form of Free SHS.
K. Badu, UK.
Columnist: Kwaku Badu