You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2019 07 13Article 762929

Opinions of Saturday, 13 July 2019

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Ah, Uncle Oliver, did your ‘kumyen preko’ placard display ‘Free SHS no good’?

I was taken aback upon casting an eye on the numerous demonstration placards and sighting the seemingly weird inscription on my maternal uncle Oliver’s ‘kum yen preko’ placard, which read:’ we don’t need Free SHS’.

Take my word for it, dearest reader, I nearly passed out on seeing Uncle Oliver’s incoherent and somewhat preposterous demonstration placard.

In fact, I thought I was dreaming. But I was not. I was wide-awaked. ‘Wonders shall never end’, our elders say.

Dearest reader, I could not believe that my maternal uncle, Oliver, would have the temerity to deny his children of Akufo-Addo’s handsome gift of Free SHS.

Tell me, dearest reader, which parent or guardian can resort to such irresponsible action?

To be quite honest, I was in the state of puzzled countenance. A whole lot of thoughts were going through my mind.

Unsurprisingly, I soliloquized repeatedly: ‘isn’t it the same Uncle Oliver who is making a staggering savings of over GHC16598 from the Akufo-Addo’s Free SHS?

I also wondered whether it was the same Uncle Oliver who begged me a few years ago to pay for his children school fees.

Honestly stating, Uncle Oliver’s idiosyncratic posturing shows how some Ghanaians could easily give in to the gimmicks of the manipulating politicians.

Dearest reader, read my true story: I recall prior to the 2016 general elections, I turned down my maternal uncle’s relentless appeals for some help towards the payment of his children school fees.

In fact, the seemingly punitive, albeit conscious decision, was based on the fact that my maternal uncle bizarrely rejected Nana Addo’s 2012 Free SHS offer, and, went ahead and voted against such an advantageous policy.

I must admit though, back then, I never thought I violated any accepted moral standards for rejecting my uncle’s appeal for help to pay for his children school fees after turning his back on a handsome offer of Free SHS.

But who says that my maternal uncle changed his ways during the 2016 general elections?

In fact, my maternal uncle was amongst millions of impoverished Ghanaians who were astonishingly brainwashed by the cunning and manipulating politicians to reject the expedient Free SHS offer during the 2016 electioneering campaign.

And, after campaigning and voting against the apparent poverty alleviation Free SHS during the 2016 general elections, my maternal uncle turned into Oliver Twist; he asked for more, on top of his two children who were going to benefit from the scheme.

Strangely though, he was aggrieved that the policy did not cover his two older children, who were in forms 2 and 3 when the policy commenced.

The fact, however, is, if everybody else had voted the same way as Uncle Oliver did, I am not sure any of his children would have benefited from the Free SHS at all.

I recall leading to the 2016 general elections, my uncle, again, had the audacity to lodge a complaint with my mother for turning my back on his fund-raising appeals towards the payment of his children school fees.

So in her attempt to resolve the simmering dissonance between my uncle and me, my mother arranged a crisis meeting.

It was during the meeting that I informed my mother that my decision was based on the fact that her brother blatantly refused to accept the offer of Free SHS by Nana Addo during the 2012 electioneering campaign.

“Well, but your uncle has never voted for NPP”, my mother retorted.

“Oh, so even if NPP came up with a prudent policy that could be beneficial to him, he must still turn his back on such a policy because of unbridled devoted attachment?” I quizzed.

I proceeded: “Where is the justification for your brother to turn down such a handsome offer of Free SHS?”



My uncle then responded: “But where was the evidence that NPP was going to implement the Free SHS policy?”

“You don’t have to look far for the evidence uncle”, I responded.

I continued: “Didn’t the previous NPP government deliver on its campaign promises by introducing social interventions such as the Free Maternal Care, the School Feeding Programme, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Mass Transport System, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the National Youth Employment Programme, now known as GYEDA, and many other social interventions?”

“Well, my nephew, I think you are making sense, but there is nothing we could do over the spilt milk”, my uncle retorted.

“You are right to some extent uncle, but we could put it right going forward”, I responded.

“For we should not and must not ever vote on narrow party lines, but we must rather vote according to campaign messages, competence, experience, ability, skills, knowledge and the integrity of the candidates”.

“Well, my son, your uncle has obviously simmered down and shown remorse, so go ahead and pay for his children school fees”, my mother proposed.

“It is too late mum; I would not be able to pay for his children school fees as I have other equally important responsibilities”, I replied.

I nonetheless continued by urging all and sundry to embrace Nana Addo’s 2016 campaign message of Free SHS.

I maintained that if they refused to accept Nana Addo’s offer of Free SHS, I would not entertain any future appeals for financial assistance from anyone to pay school fees.

Gratifyingly, both my uncle and my mother promised wholeheartedly to scrutinise any future campaign messages of all political parties before settling on their preferred candidate or party.



Indeed, I was over the moon because I thought I had managed to bring my mother and my uncle from darkness into the light.

Based on that, I engaged in a carefully considered deliberation and went ahead and paid my maternal uncle’s children school fees.

Regrettably, however, my maternal uncle did not heed to my earlier advice, as he went back to his old ways.

Ironically, my maternal uncle was spotted wearing the NDC’s Party T-shirt and campaigning vigorously against the Free SHS during the 2016 general elections.

Dearest reader, isn’t it therefore bizarre that my maternal uncle, Oliver, who campaigned vehemently against the Free SHS policy would turn around and ask for more places for his children?

Since the implementation of the free SHS policy by the NPP government, the minority NDC operatives have gathered momentum and called uncountable press conferences with the view to discrediting the policy’s implementation.

Somehow, 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 GH48 per student is better than the NPP’s GH1844.27 per student a year.

Whatever the case, some of us cannot accept the minority NDC operatives somewhat spurious argument.

Well, they may choose to call it progressively free or comprehensively free, the fact, however, remains that the policy will return huge benefits in the long run.

Indeed, the vast majority of Ghanaians will benefit immensely from the Free SHS policy, including my maternal uncle, Oliver, the diehard NDC supporter, who gleefully displayed a disgusting placard during the recent ‘kum yen preko’ demonstration, intended to downplay the relevance of the Free SHS.

But despite my uncle Oliver’s needless and never-ending pessimism, he is likely to reap tremendous benefits eventually and will most likely decline to endorse Mahama, whom many observers are of the opinion that based on his pronouncements, he will cancel the Free SHS policy if given the opportunity.

Apparently, credible sources have it that the government will spend a staggering amount of not less than GH5532.83 over a period of three years on each student.



So, my uncle Oliver, the ‘we don’t need Free SHS’ placard brandishing geezer, who now has three of his children in SHS, will be pocketing not less than GH16598.49 over three years.

Who can then persuade my maternal uncle to turn down such a juicy offer and vote for the unrepentant critic of the Free SHS, who is set to review, and probably abandon the policy?

It is quite unfortunate to observe how the likes of Uncle Oliver could easily give in to the manipulating politicians vague rhetoric and vile propaganda only designed to advance their vested interests.

In ending, I, for one, do not anticipate Uncle Oliver and the likes benefiting from the Free SHS policy should Ghanaians make a terrible mistake and hand over the poverty alleviation Free SHS policy back to the NDC government in the near future.