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Opinions of Monday, 7 December 2009

Columnist: Agyemang, Katakyie Kwame Opoku

Indeed, Ghanaians Have Wasted Their Votes!

Fellow Ghanaians, the reality of the day is that the Ghanaian ‘ecomini’ is murky and topsy-turvy. All the social interventions implemented by the NPP administration are on the verge of collapse. Expectant mothers cannot access the free maternal care, the one hot meal a day for school kids is being infested with maggots and poison, the NYEP workers have not been paid for several months, high taxes are being imposed on basic food items, the Ghana cedi has a few metres to overtake Usain Bolt-the fastest man in the world, our pockets are still waiting to be filled with Mills’ 419 money and this has put fear among Ghanaians as they wait for Christmas, the price of petrol has jumped from 3 to nearly 6 Ghana cedis amidst frequent fuel shortages, our cities are still filthy, petty traders are being jailed unjustifiably, Mills’ ‘mediocre’ ministers are raining insults at each other, there is power struggle within the ruling party, there is gradual ethnic super-impositions, the frequent power outages have brought untold hardship to the small-scaled industries, government vehicles are being distributed to NDC serial-callers and on a more serious note our university graduates regrettably cannot be employed by the public sector for the next two consecutive years. Tractors meant for our hardworking farmers are being stolen by NDC functionaries-Ayariga, Bagbin etc. In sum, there is no hope and absolutely no direction of our dear nation towards the attainment of economic independence and our quest to becoming a middle-income country by 2015, to me would be a mirage if this negative trend continues.

It is therefore disheartening and unfair to the Ghanaian voter who queues under the scorching sun, exercise his franchise with the hope of seeing a ‘Better Ghana’ only to realise within just 12 months that his contribution put some ‘greedy bastards’ in positions of trust. As I write this piece, the topical question that has been on the lips of all right-minded Ghanaians who are at the receiving end of the National Disaster Congress’s (NDC) economic hardship is; who voted for the NDC in the last general elections?’.

The question I pose to my noble readers is; where are the people who shamefully voted for the National Diabolic Congress (NDC)? As of now not a single Ghanaian wants to associate himself with the NDC except the few mediocre, Team B, illiterate ministers, bootlickers and sycophants (courtesy-J.J. Rawlings et al). I, Katakyie, want to drum to the ears of every Ghanaian that the National Disappointed Congress (NDC) has nothing to offer Ghanaians in terms of good policies and programmes that could move Ghana forward. So far, this diabolic party has shown by words and deeds that it did win political power to improve the welfare of the people but like the devil, it only came to steal, to destroy and to kill. It is in the light of these that I pray 24/7 that something negative befalls on the NDC party so that it ceases to exist. This will probably give the CPP the opportunity to compete with the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the subsequent general elections.

Ladies and gentlemen, you all recall how Lucifer (Satan) was declared wanted in Heaven by God. Many of you are also aware that Christians constantly use the blood of Jesus Christ to curse their enemies anytime they pray. This, they do by saying; ‘Yesu mogya nka w’anim’. Muslims on the other hand troop to Mecca every year and in addition to performing their spiritual rituals, throw big stones at the devil. Similarly, our Traditional Worshippers have been cursing their enemies especially when making libation. If you doubt, ask Ohene Agyekum-the former Ashanti Regional Chairman of the NDC and now the US ambassador and he will not hesitate to tell you why he decided to invoke the spirits of ‘Antoa Nyama’ to curse his enemies. The above scenarios clearly show that nobody in his right mind will be willing and ready to entertain his enemy. At this juncture, I hope my noble readers would not be bothered to ask me why I dislike the NDC. After all, that ‘thing’, called Koku Anyidoho had the guts to say on an FM Radio that he hates the Republic of Ghana’s most successful president-His Excellency, J.A. Kufuor. Even in the Holy Bible, it is clearly stated in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 that, ‘For everything, there is a season: a time to be born, and a time to die...A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate, a time for war, and a time for peace’.

Let me therefore take this opportunity to give just one reason why I have taken this stance and why I will urge fellow Ghanaians to use all democratic means to kick out this snail-paced government led by an incompetent president who was mistakenly voted into power nearly 12 months ago. My dislike for the NDC is not only about the economic mess it has created, but more importantly the way the 'mediocre’ team is toying with our Educational System.

Education, according to Nelson Mandela, is the most powerful weapon you can use in the world. The role played by education in the socio-economic development of a country cannot be overemphasised. In fact, to Guggisberg, ‘Education is the keystone of a people’s life and happiness’. Significantly, it is said that growth and development of a nation are linked with a purposely-planned investment in human beings. It is therefore expected that Education would equip the individual with knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and competencies which will make it possible for the person to function properly in the society.

Fellow compatriots, the future as you all know is very uncertain. This therefore requires that proper planning be done in order that the future of our dear country, Ghana, may be better than the past and the present. Educational policies should therefore be fashioned in such a way that the individual is equipped with the necessary skills and tools to bring about useful changes in society. Reflecting on the above as regards how critical it is for every government to invest substantially in the education of its citizens, we would be doing a great disservice to ourselves if we sit down unconcerned for Mills-led team B government to experiment our educational system. We can all bear witnesses to the remarkable achievements of Nkrumah-led CPP administration in the area of education. In my first article titled ‘Kufuor’s Legacy, Second to None’, published on (www.ghanaweb.com, 15.11.2009) and other media network, I highlighted the major policies and programmes that the Kufuor-led NPP administration implemented in the education sector to vigorously address the falling standards of education in the country. This includes among others, a New Education Reform aimed at developing a highly-skilled and technically advanced and disciplined workforce, the inclusion of 2 year-kindergarten education, the ‘My First Day’ at school policy, the building of 1,013 new public primary school blocks, 853 new JHS blocks, 19 new SHS blocks, 2,362 pre-school blocks through the GETFund, the policy of providing one model Senior High School in all the 170 districts (about 1/3 completed), the establishment of University of Mines, Tarkwa, the establishment of Wa and Bolgatanga Polytechnics, a 20% admission quota in the public universities reserved for less-endowed Senior High Schools and the upgrading of University of Winneba into a fully fledged university. This was indeed a clear manifestation of a government that was so committed to ensuring the provision of quality and affordable education to its citizens. It was therefore the expectation of well meaning Ghanaians that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would be retained into power to ensure the strengthening of these policies in order to speed up our developmental process. ‘Nanso mpanin se, Fofie anto Atta na wadware abamo’. The party succeeded in handing over power so cheaply to these ‘bootlickers’ who are only bent on reversing the country to the dark ages of the P/NDC era.

In the heat of the 2008 electioneering campaign, the chief propagandist of the NDC, Fiifi Kweetey ‘set a number of records straight-the school feeding programme, the capitation grant, the free bus ride etc to debunk the NPP’s human-centred and pro-poor policies. For instance, in setting one of the so-called records straight, this ‘Togolese’ - Kweetey chided the NPP government that ‘only 9% of public school children were benefiting from the SFP, the capitation grant of 25Gp per month could not buy a ball of kenkey for the school child, parents in Accra on the average spend 17 Ghana cedis on stationery and other materials which to Kweetey was six times more than the capitation grant of 3 Ghana cedis that the NPP has been gloating about’. However, it is nearly 12 months since Kweetey’s NDC assumed the reigns of governance and had only managed to increase the capitation grant from 3 Ghana cedis to 4.50 Ghana cedis, which amounts to 27Gp per month. So Fiifi Kweetey, my questions to you are very simple; can the 27Gp buy a ball of kenkey now? Are all public basic schools benefiting from the SFP? What about the school uniforms you promised in the first ‘Sakawa Budget’? According to Mother Theresa of blessed memory; if you judge people, you have no time to love them. However, if the poor performance of Mills-led NDC administration is anything to go by, then I beg to differ from Mother Theresa, simply because I will judge the National Degraded Congress (NDC) even in my dreams. As Dr. Kingsley Nyarko puts it; an educated nation is a developed nation. Therefore any individual or group of individuals who plays with the education of our children should not be entertained in our society at all. This is because education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who seriously prepare for it today.

My dear readers, it would be recalled that in September 1987, the PNDC government led by one of the worst presidents in the world-the former military dictator, J.J. Rawlings introduced the JSS and SSS system to replace our educational system which used to be the envy of other sister-nations. Even though the concept seemed brilliant on paper, the untimely implementation of the programme has been the bane of Ghana’s socio-economic problems. Rawlings’ PNDC government defied all odds and implemented the programme amidst logistical and other problems. For instance, tools for practical lessons, qualified teachers to handle specific subjects, textbooks, classroom blocks, science equipment, teachers’ accommodation, among others were inadequate. In effect, the 1987 Education Reform succeeded in producing more dog-chain sellers, ‘kayayos’, petty traders than Medical Doctors, Teachers and other professionals. It is therefore not surprising that armed robbery, burglary, prostitution, teenage pregnancy, serial killings, among other social vices are on the increase.

According to Susam B. Anthony; if all the rich, all the professionals, the politicians, the traditional leaders and all of the church people were to send their children to public schools, they would feel bound to concentrate their money on improving these schools until they met the highest ideals. However, Anthony’s advice was irrelevant in the eyes of J.J. Rawlings because he was the only ‘luckiest’ man on earth to have gotten some ‘friends’ to cater for his daughter-Ezenator and her siblings’ educational needs in Scotland. As I write today, Miss Ezenator, who used to fly state military aircrafts, is a medical practitioner, and our own sons, brothers, daughters, nieces, nephews who are struggling to make ends meet, are being harassed on the streets of the major cities all in the name of decongestion. And of course you would agree with me that neither the First Lady’s adopted son nor the children of the entire ‘sycophantic’ team are selling iced kenkey and iced water on the streets. ‘Mpanin se, obi anwo wo a onni wo’. ‘Saa nso na agoro, y3nka nni w’akyi a wose agoro yi 3y3 d3’.

Indeed, if the current administration is serious about the country’s education, how could they even dream about reversing the duration of the Senior High School let alone implement it, knowing very well the New Education Reform is barely two years? Why should Alex Tetteh-Enyo wilfully cause financial loss to the state by calling for that useless stakeholders’ forum? How and why? Do our leaders fail to think or think to fail? May be they do both else Alex Tetteh-Enyo and co. would not bother about such irrelevant issue. Nobody in his right mind will put the duration of the SHS course as a priority when it comes to the identification of the multi-faceted problems facing our educational system. Any serious government will rather keep its students in the school for a longer period as means of reducing the unemployment rate. The excuse being given by the NDC members that the reversal of the SHS duration was in their manifesto, to me is neither here nor there. If they think they were sticking to their manifesto, then equally Ghanaians have every right to force President Mills to reduce fuel prices drastically.

Admittedly, Ghanaian schools need good infrastructure, science equipment, teacher accommodation, textbooks, in addition to motivating the teacher, improving their conditions of service, and beefing up the teacher population. Just last Monday, November 30, 2009, the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT) nearly embarked on a nationwide strike action due to the failure of the NDC government to address the teachers’ concern. The above-mentioned problems in addition to the participation of various activities in the secondary schools such as sports, inter-school debates, the National Science and Maths Quiz, demonstrations, strike actions, sicknesses, funerals, absenteeism, among others necessitated the increase in the duration of the SHS from 3 to 4 years. Besides, the 4 year duration of the programme was meant to give more time for the first year students to settle down, master the core subjects so that they would be in a better position to choose suitable programmes in their second year of the four year programme.

Mr. President, all that Ghanaians are saying is very simple. Address the above issues first and then reverse the duration if you so wish, period! I find it quite abnormal when President Fiifi Mills over the weekend at GSTS, Takoradi, acknowledged the low level of interest in Science and Technical Education among students due to lack of well-equipped laboratory and workshops, inadequate qualified teachers, lack of incentives for teachers and the misconception that Science and Technology are difficult subjects as some of the challenges that need to be addressed to improve the situation. But who needs to address them, Mr. President? Why did you fail to tell Ghanaians your immediate action plan to improve the situation drastically? Is it a sign of mediocrity? Mediocrity, as Hubband opines, knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognises genius. In fact, it was not for nothing that Alfred Montapert remarked that; to accomplish great things, we must first have a dream, then visualize, then plan...believe...and act. Have you got a vision for Mother Ghana at all? Is that all that the Ghanaian child could get from your professorship? Please, be guided by the fact that, vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare. So I urge you to grab the two, use your academic knowledge vis-a-vis Ghana’s natural resources and transform the lives of the Ghanaian populace.

My brothers and sisters, before I wind up, I would urge you to cast your mind back to 1995 where a whole academic year was wasted in the public university calendar all because the then NDC government refused to address the concerns of the University Teachers. The lecturers had to return to the lecture room on compassionate grounds as their efforts to have their plight addressed proved futile. Besides, it is the same NDC that introduced the Academic Facility User Fee (AFUF) in 1999 that led to the famous ‘mmobrowa struggle’ and its attendant abuse of students’ fundamental human rights. Professor Mills-our current president, was the then Vice President. Therefore, it is not surprising that the AFUF and the boarding fees of SHS have gone up astronomically at the beginning of the 2009/10 academic year. Again, it is on record that during the era of the P/NDC, para-military groups like the CDR, CDO, 31st DWM, became teachers at a point in time during one of the numerous strike actions of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT). Could the NDC administration show us its commitment towards the eradication of illiteracy, ignorance and diseases in our dear country?

The NDC to me is a waste of space. It is a terrible party of opportunists. It is my fervent hope that Ghanaians join me in the fight against this hopeless government so that practical measures are taken to provide quality and affordable education to every Ghanaian child instead of the useless youth in agriculture policy. Never again should we be deceived into voting for bad leaders. Leadership comes from integrity and must not be entrusted to just anybody at all.

God bless Ghana! God bless the NPP!! God bless Kufuor!!!

Katakyie Kwame Opoku Agyemang (a.k.a. Paulucious), Hull. UK. MEd in (Education) kpaulucious@yahoo.com (07944309859) “Vision, coupled with persistency, results in true success”