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Opinions of Friday, 23 September 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Mahama says he wants to lose election 2016 and all say “Amen!”

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

He says his decision to withdraw trainee allowances for both teachers and nurses was based on principles. But every decision he has taken since then has been predicated far more on sheer expediency than principles, moral or political (See “I’ll Rather Lose than Restore Teacher-Trainee Allowance – Mahama” / Daily Guide / 9/8/16).

It has been predicated on expediency because President John Dramani Mahama has restored stipends for nurse trainees but adamantly refuses to do the same for teacher trainees. And so it ought to be clear to all by now that in the lenses of his political purview, the President places far less premium, if any at all, on the importance of teachers to the development of the nation.

But the man has only exposed himself for the pathological liar that he veritably is. He also says that the decision to scrap teacher-trainee allowances has left our national coffers in black ink, meaning that presently there are adequate funds for the government to expand “educational infrastructure” as well as “improve the quality” of instruction with state-of-the-art materials.

Well, the last time that I checked, quite a remarkable percentage of public schools around the country were still housed under trees. As well, of the 200 Senior High School (SHS) buildings that he promised to add to the nation’s pool of high schools, at the last count, not even 20-percent had been completed.

And refreshingly, perhaps out of pure and indefensible shame, the President recently acknowledged publicly that his SHS infrastructure development promises had been a massive failure.

And so precisely what he has done with the “adequate funds” accrued from his decision to cut off teacher-trainee allowances is not clear. What is also worth pointing out is the fact that as of this writing, hundreds of thousands of public schoolteachers had not been paid salary arrears due them going back months.

And so here, again, the critical question arises as to what the government has done with or has been doing with funds saved by cutting teacher-trainee allowances. Mr. Mahama also says that he would rather lose Election 2016 than restore teacher-trainee allowances. What the foregoing implies is that in terms of ballot count, teachers never factored in any significant or major way on the political fortunes of both the President and the party that he leads, to wit, the National Democratic Congress.

And so it may be well-nigh time for teachers to teach the NDC operatives a memorable lesson or two come December 7. Maybe the arrogance of power has blinded the President to the inescapable fact that quite a sizeable percentage of highly educated Ghanaian professionals of all trades – among them doctors, lawyers, engineers, nurses, mainline Christian clerics and even career politicians – were at one time or another classroom teachers prior to branching out into their settled professions.

Or maybe his experiences with teachers while growing up were invariably bitter and uniformly execrable. The fact of the matter, however, is that the significance of Ghanaian teachers or their lack thereof does not depend on the personal fortunes and/or experiences of Mr. Mahama.

Rather, the significance of our teachers squarely depends on their seminal contribution to the intellectual and cultural development of our proverbial leaders of tomorrow. Our teachers are indisputably our brain-trust, just as our nurses are the preservers of our health and well-being.

This dastardly attempt to play the members of two of the most important professions in the country against each other must not go unanswered and/or unpunished. Our “principled” President says that he would rather lose Election 2016 than recognize the coequal significance and respectability of both the nursing and teaching professions.

And, of course, Mr. Mahama has every right to be granted his imperious and intransigent assertion that he would rather lose his megalomaniacal grips on the reins of governance than be fair to all and sundry. And to his latter stance, we say “Amen! Thy Will Be Granted, Mr. President!”