Feature Article of Friday, 9 November 2012
Columnist: Goka, Frank
“Collapsed Building epitomized His Free SHS Policy”
BY FRANK GOKA
Webmaster, kindly permit me to use your medium to wish all the rescuees of the collapsed Melcom Building a speedy recovery. I pray that the God Lord that took them out of the rubbles should see to their swift return to normal function. To those whose lives the good Lord recalled, my condolence goes to their families. May this be the first and the last!
As we closely monitor the effort of the Rescuers in Achimota, I became aware of a tradition that is common in our society. Usually, at tragedies of national concerns like this, notable LEADERS conglomerate at the scene to ascertain the situation and offer their intellectual opinions, sympathy and of course, motivation and encouragement to the rescuers. Indeed, the presence of these famous people opens the fountain of rescuers’ adrenaline for hard work. In Chile, President Sebastian Pinera was at the mines daily until all the 33 trapped miners were rescued in 2010. In Ghana, it will be recall that, Akuffo Addo toured Buipe Township with a lightning speed to “assess the extent of damage caused by the floods” (Ghanaweb, 2010). Folks, in case you have dementia-like symptoms and can’t recollect the “Buipe Care”, let me activate your short-term memories: Just last October, Mrs. Akuffo Addo was at Mallam Atta Market to “console victims of the Mallam market fire outbreak” (Modernghana, 2012). The then Vice-President Mahama in December 2011 visited Senya Bereku accident victims at Winneba General Hospital in the same spirit, to console and condole with survivals and families of the dead respectively. There was a boat accident on the Volta Lake and then President Mills was there to perform the “tradition” to his kith and kins. That is the spirit found within our cultural fabrics that unites us as Ghanaians until the current Melcom disaster.
One might be tempted to ask which leaders I am referring to. Well, don’t think far. This month (November) is the penultimate month for Ghana’s mega Election 2012. As I type now, we have 8 Presidential Candidates (Leaders) whose faces will be adjacent an empty-squared box on a ballot paper asking you to “Vote for me make I chop President” as some musicians will summarized. Indeed, this tragedy has presented a huge opportunity for all the candidates to practice the “I care for you” anthem they have been singing on daily bases hither and thither. As soon as he heard the news, President John Mahama suspended his campaign just as he was about to step on the upper geographical demarcated line between Ghana and Burkina Faso, BUT he heard the frantic wailing voices of those Ghanaians trapped under the debris and suspended his campaign for Achimota to “continue the tradition”. Dr. Abu Sakara and other Presidential Candidates made it to the site as well. As I was appreciating the attributes of a true leader, my instinct questioned “Where is Akuffo Addo--the man that copied President Mill’s House to House campaign that he ironically criticized? Didn’t he posit that he cares for Ghanaians? Or because “All die be die” he no longer cares for the souls under the debris?
As I continue to envisage the values of a true leader, the reason why Akuffo Addo couldn’t suspend his campaign, let alone visiting the site dawn on me! It was BECAUSE the Melcom Building per se was a true reflection of Nana Akuffo Addo’s “Free SHS Policy!” We are told the building lacks all the technical ingredients that ought to sustain it: its foundation was poorly built, it doesn’t have the right sizes of iron rods for the needed strength, the Cement-Gravel ratio in concretes was poorly calculated, frail supporting pillars, etc. A certain Felix on Asempa FM indicated he was the original contractor but had to abrogate the contract because the owner of the house was much interested on saving money rather than seeing quality job done. The collapsed 6-storey Melcom Building epitomized Akuffo Addo’s Free SHS Policy! It lacks the requisite materials that will make Ghana’s Education System sustainable and quality in the future. If such a policy is even piloted let alone implemented, the result will be like the Melcom Building—Our Education System will collapse! That is the scary image perhaps the NPP flagbearer is running from.
On the contrary, President Mahama’s Policy will make sure that the right materials are available to promote and accommodate even a paradoxical 50-Floor Skyscraper of “Melcom Building”, by providing schools, training quality teachers, providing teacher quarters, Books, building more SHS with state-of-the-art laboratories and other adnexa. JM will also build and equip the Universities and other tertiary institutions to be ready for the SHS graduates. This is a realistic policy not tainted with fine-prints of deceit for attracting political votes!