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Feature Article of Friday, 16 March 2012

Columnist: Asare, Noah Dugubrame

Nana Addo's Free SHS Promise And The Doubters' Case

The flag-bearer of the opposition New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo has since 2008 when he first led the party to election made a promise he has named "the Sacred Promise". He has repeatedly and consistently promised Ghanaians that if elected as the president he will spear head an ambitious move to make Education in Ghana to the Senior Secondary School level free.

His critics, especially the ruling National Democratic Congress have raised red flags about this promise saying it is unattainable. It has been deemed by those critics as a mere ambition which cannot be achieved under our current state as a nation and the resources needed for such a vision are too far to be reached.

Many have also asked the NPP flag-bearer to tell Ghanaians how he is going to achieve that aim which he has only promised to do when the party manifesto for 2012 is made public. He is believed in some quarters to be harbouring fears of exposing the idea to the NDC as he did in the SADA issue. It has been re-echoed many times that SADA was a Nana Addo's idea which when he made public was quickly imitated by the then candidate Mills and added same to his campaign promises. For this reason he decided to hold this particular one to his chest.

But all said and done, it is impossible in today's politics to give a promise without giving a clue as to how that dream is going to come into reality. I am very sure that before I cast my vote on December 8, Nana Addo will have made public how he intend to make this promise a true reachable program.

I must say here that although Nana Addo and the NPP has not given details of how he intends to bring this relief to Ghanaian parents, I can't doubt that it is possible. The NDC and all other critics doubts are nothing new. Many programs established by the NPP administration were equally put in doubt but were still achieved.

Just after NDC1 had handed over power to the NPP then led by Ex President Kuffour, our National coffers were opened and were said to hold debts which made Ghana "A Highly Indebted Poor Country". This status needed a remedy before Mother Ghana could even be considered for a loan. Ghana had lost her credit worthiness in the books of every creditor. The NPP administration suggested that Ghana entered the HIPC initiative to free us of the burden of debt. The NDC at the time sited many examples of countries which had undertook the same initiative and ended up even more broke than before they entered it. Their criticisms made HIPC look more like slavery rather than a good step. President Kuffour at the time backed by his leadership insisted and virtually forced us into the initiative. Forced because from the analyses and examples put out by the NDC, there was no way we could support such an idea. The Kuffour administration at the time was aware that NDC had succeeded in demoralising us into believing in the vision they were putting forward and so Ex president Kuffour described it as a bitter pill we needed to cure a disease. But as we speak now, that initiative have yielded a lot of dividends. Apart from the cancelation of our debts by our creditors, Ghana is still receiving funds from the initiative annually. Every Ghanaian is a living witness of the numerous projects funded with HIPC funds.

Again, the National Health Insurance Scheme was pooh poohed by the then opposition NDC as just a reality in a dreamland. Just like they are doing in this free SHS issue they estimated how much will be involved and how that even people in good health condition will want to get treated through the scheme which will highly burden the scheme and eventually collapse it. The NPP at the time insisted that it was possible and that they had a plan to make it work. The NHIS eventually took off very successfully with our pregnant women receiving free medical care, the old getting free medical care and every registered member treated with only an annual premium of 70,000 cedis. They doubted it but it worked.

When It was announced that Ghana had discovered oil in commercial quantities. We all expected jubilation across board. But no, the NDC refuted the claim describing it as just a lie and a scheme by the NPP to convince Ghanaians into retaining them in power. I remember very clearly that the NDC General Secretary mocked and said the said oil may be "adwe ngo", to wit palm kernel oil. Today NDC is boasting of growth in our financial sector failing to mention that it is because of the oil discovered by the NPP before leaving office.

If they doubted all these and yet all came to pass, why will I believe their doubts and overlook a vision coming from people who have promised and delivered before? The reality is that NPP has a visionary front which believes so much in Ghana and always see possibilities whilst the NDC always see obstacles because they don't have that kind of vision. If Fast Track Court system has been possible in Ghana, if the school feeding program has been a possibility, if the Bui Dam project has been possible despite the huge obstacles the NDC saw, Ghana can have a Free Basic Education to The Senior High School Level as promised by Nana Addo Dankwah Akuffo Addo and the NPP. Let the doubters keep on doubting.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

Noah Dugubrame Asare. Frankfurt, Germany.

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