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Feature Article of Saturday, 1 December 2012

Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea

Akufo-Addo's Free SHS Is A 419! Part I

Feature Article, by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.

The main focus of this article is that Akufo-Addo is certainly not the most trust-worthy candidate to choose in the impending elections. His problem goes beyond sheer problems of a lack of personal organization, nepotism, arrogance, tribal warlord, into what is nothing an orchestrated attempt to win power “at all cost”, but which, as usual betrays the poor level of intellectual capacity and commitment that has gone into the matter. For a very long time, it was just a rhetoric until Nana Akufo-Addo could not tell how much his free education that he was making so much noise about was going to cost, then he started “throwing one on top of the other”. For those not familiar with the saying “throwing one on top of another”, it is a translation from the Fanti, “ore totow paapaa do”! Where “one” and “another” mean the same thing: “bunkums”!

Akufo-Addo was asked by BBC host to “HARDtalk”, Peter Sucker, a very simple question, “How much will it cost?” And all of a sudden it became internationally known that the man is not serious! He has been campaigning for more than a year talking about how he was going to implement free SHS education, but when asked the simple question about the costing, he was on TV behaving as if even though he admits that to be a very good question, he had not even thought about that before! Initially, we see Akufo-Addo saying that “the costing is being done” as an answer to “how much will it cost”? Then as soon as the host asks, “But you cannot be serious, you cannot make such promises without knowing how much it will cost?” Then immediately Akufo Addo begins to shift from “it is being done” to “it has been done”! And everyone sees the kind of liar that he is, live on TV! It was pathetic. And what even made matters worse, after contradicting himself that he had done the costing during the same interview, he ridiculously escapes giving any figures and cutting a sorry figure of himself with a plea that he would prefer to tall that directly to Ghanaians and not the BBC!

BBC's HARDtalk INTERVIEW: On Education:
First of all, I do not wish to prejudice the reader until the bare facts are clearly ascertained. I do encourage the readers to study first the interview for themselves, and form their own conclusions. I remain confident that most will agree with mine, stated below. You may listen to the relevant portion from the interview on BBC's HARDtalk: Nana Akufo Addo 05 Mar 12 from the 18.59th minute to 20.33. [1] I have also provided a transcript of the relevant portion to facilitate the analysis.

Transcript of BBC's HARDtalk, by the Odikro, See: Nana Akufo Addo, HARDtalk, BBC, 05 Mar 12, Mon, 5 Mar 12, Duration: 24 mins, Updated: Daily, Episodes available: Indefinitely: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ht#playepisode2 Nana Akufo Addo 05 March, 2012 from the 19.59th minute to 20.33:

PRESENTER: The greatest indictment, frankly, of your government, is the way in which you squandered money and left this huge hole in the budget deficit and I think you would now acknowledge that that was a profound problem the last time your party was in power?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: No, I don't believe... I don't believe... I think that... No, I don't accept this proposition at all.

PRESENTER: I think what the Ghanaian people, it seems to me, from reading a lot of stuff from the Ghanaian press, want to know is, where exactly is the money going to come from next time around if you are in power, for some of the very extravagant promises you've made? You for example have offered free secondary schooling for all Ghanaians. A promise you say you would absolutely deliver in your four years in power?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: Absolutely! Absolutely! Absolutely.

PRESENTER: So have you costed it? How much will it cost?”

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: The costing... the costing... is being... is being done. I mean very very soon we will be in the position.

PRESENTER: No, you must have costed it! You can't make a promise like that without costing it?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: No, no, no, very, very soon we are going to be...

PRESENTER: How much?
NANA AKUFO-ADDO: Very, very soon, we are going to be... put it together. I prefer...

PRESENTER: You don't know how much?
NANA AKUFO-ADDO: I do know how much, understand, but...

PRESENTER: Oh, then tell me that?
NANA AKUFO-ADDO: I will prefer to tell the people of Ghana directly before I tell you.

PRESENTER: What do you m...? Many of them are on HARDtalk, you can tell me and they will know?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: No, it doesn't matter, I prefer to make that statement to the people of Ghana directly first, as to the cost, and any time...

PRESENTER: So you do know the cost?
NANA AKUFO-ADDO: Oh, we do. We have a very good idea how... and how also we are going to finance it.

PRESENTER: Well Okay, you are obviously not going to give me the figures but just tell me how you are going to pay for it. Because clearly, it is going to be a great cost if you are going to train teachers, going to build new schools... ?

NANA AKUFO-ADDO: All of that have been adequately costed and we believe that first of all, the new revenues will help, more efficient management of what we have now, growth in the Ghanaian economy - these are the three sources which are going to enable us to fulfil that promise. And it is a promise that has been made solemnly to the Ghanaian people, and it is going to be solemnly kept. Not because it is a campaign promise, but because it is a necessity for the future of our country to educate all our young people...

Isn't that amazing in itself? And since then has there been any sign of such a costing? How many times have they not come out with different figures? If Akufo Addo was openly caught lying on TV about the very costing of his so-called free SHS policy, why should any Ghanaian who genuinely want the progress of this country and the issues of the quality of education, content and access, are being fully and responsibly addressed by the current administration, as we all saw at the IEA debate. For those who never had the chance to listen to the programme, please don't for forget to do so! Here is the link and the address:

But what is really intellectually bankrupt is this 419 idea of using our non-renewable resource, oil, as the means of financing his free SHS education! When Nkrumah introduced the accelerated educational expansion programme, he based the funding on a renewable resource: agriculture. What we need is to use the resources to promote agro-ecological agriculture, development of agro-industry, credits to farmers, job creation in agriculture, ensuring food security, and the health of the population, whilst at the same time using the receipts from agriculture for the progressive improvement in the quality of education and a sustainable and long-lasting expansion of educational opportunities. As it stands, if Akufo-Addo manages to fool a significant section of the Ghanaian electorate with this ill-conceived swindle, he promises to fund it from the oil revenue.

We all know oil is a non-renewable resource. What happens to the programme when our wells dry out? Re-introduction of school fees? Can you imagine the trauma Ghanaians are going to go through, assuming that we could even enjoy this for a period as long as ten years? What happens to our poor parents and their wards afterwards? Once the habit of paying for the child's education has been pre-maturely removed, together with the numerous alternative uses of the very limited resources, returning to a fee-paying regime may result in massive drop-outs and serious social upheavals than a stable, sustained and progressive development of our education, based on renewable natural resources ever would! The oil money meant for paying free SHS would thus be better invested in developing our productive capabilities in the efficient exploitation of our renewable natural resources, first. Trying to put the cart before the horse, as the NPP continues to run wild with their “free SHS” slogans is not just an empty electoral shenanigan, but an infinitely disingenuous idea in itself!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Nana Akyea Mensah, Ghana Committee, P-AI, Social Media Campaigns | Nov 30, 2012
SocialMedia@panafricanistinternational.org
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