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Opinions of Thursday, 4 October 2012

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Is Nana Addo Really Shocked?

NPP versus NDC versus CPP!!!

My friends, I agree wholeheartedly with Nana Addo on this one! Ghana can afford free education now and it must not relent in priming its human capital. Our leaders must put their noses to the grindstone and make this needed and tough decision. One sure way of denting crime, enhancing innovation and revamping our stale bureaucracy is to educate our youth. Here, I speak about situation relevant education that meets our developmental needs. The NDC must stop resisting the free education idea. Ghana’s problem since day one, has never been a lack of resources. Instead, it has been our inability to plan, prioritize, commit resources and follow through. We’ve not identified, planned and executed flawlessly.

Shame on the NDC for fighting this idea! Indeed, it is a disgrace, that, the NDC, a party that some argue is closer to Nkrumah’s ideas, should fight an NLM descendant in the form of Nana Addo on the issue of free education. I guess the hoax that the NDC is, shines through. This rude awakening in Nana Addo must be lauded enthusiastically. After all, his party, like no other in Ghana, feeds fat on the colonial pap of unbridled markets and domination of private enterprise. I hope they’ve followed world events since the latter deception. I vouch for a mixed economy!

Don’t believe the NDC hype about lack of funds my friends! For example, how can we find money to increase the salary for a do nothing parliament, but cannot afford free education? How about payment of unjustified judgment debts? Should I go on? The biggest challenge we have on this issue is that, most of our leaders don’t realize the seriousness, accept the urgency and embrace the critically of education to our development. They just don’t get it!! Free education is an investment which is long overdue! In Ghana today, we live the social cost of not having free education. The escalation of crime, lack of innovation, lack of skilled labor and a disheveled youth are glaring examples. If I had my way, the salary of our parliamentarians and other bureaucrats will be frozen indefinitely. After all, they do nothing, and instead, instigate corruption and lack of accountability.

My friends, if Nana Addo is shocked now, I want him to imagine the shock that greeted Nkrumah when his free education policy was burnt by the NLC/NLM. Nana, your current shock is exactly the earthquake Nkrumah and the CPP felt when your party’s tradition destroyed free education then. Remember when the NLC and Baffour Akoto destroyed free education after the 1966 coup? Finally, Nana Addo, you can relate to how some of us felt then when your party’s tradition senseless resisted free education and embraced the colonial rubbish about employing solely market based solutions . This is why we can’t understand your blind support for the foolishness that led to the unconstitutional overthrow of Dr Nkrumah. We’ve always known that Nkrumah was ahead of his time but little did we think that an NLM descendant will strive to correct the harsh and senseless destruction that his fore bearers perpetrated against Ghana. Imagine the cost to Ghana Nana! Now you know! Please admit wrongdoing and inspire healing!

I wish we had UP/NLC/PP/NPP folks like Nana Addo during Nkrumah’s era. Just imagine a significant number of NLC/PP folks insisting that Ghana should not abandon its free education policy. Do you see what I see? Imagine some of these UP/NPP folks asking for a review of Nkrumah’s free education policy and fine tuning it to benefit mother Ghana. Ghana will be ages ahead. Our literacy rate will be high and human capital primed for action. Nkrumah may have angered the UP/NLM/NLC malcontents. Why should all Ghanaians have to suffer because of hatred for Nkrumah? I am harping on this issue because even under our so called fledgling democracy, we continue to witness cyclical discontinuation of efforts that serve the people but angers a particular political party. We must separate Ghana’s real needs from the frivolities of partisan politics. We need continuity on issues that benefit Ghana regardless of political party.

The funny thing, and it bears repeating, is that, even in advance capitalist countries, free education goes on. The market does not have all the answers! Hell no! In addition, there is no use making education a tribal issue by licensing our chiefs to go beg for educational funds overseas. Sad part is that, most of these funds, if and when granted, are never accounted for and certainly abused for personal and parochial interests. Now is the time to build a national pot for education and stay the cause. Ghanaians must coagulate around this issue!

What I believe will give Nana Addo credibility on this issue, is the public admission that the NLC/PP was wrong in wiping away Nkrumah’s free education idea. It will show clearly, that, Nana Addo is able to embrace ideas from other quarters outside the narrow confines of the NPP and its antecedents. I hope and pray that Nana Addo will be true to his word. Even though one is forced to be skeptical, we can only keep our fingers crossed. I hope and pray also, that, this effort will not be another avenue to enrich party cronies and tribesmen. Instead, it will be carried through to benefit every Ghanaian. I hope and pray that it will be done efficiently and effectively. We need a truly united, not partisan, front on this issue.

As Nana Addo will note, there is already stiff opposition to a great idea (Free education). Perhaps the NDC is resisting for resisting sake. Perhaps, the NDC is trying to pay the NPP back. I really don’t know and can’t fathom why. This tells me that, Nana Addo, if he should win, will have to do some fence mending. I want this idea to be implemented in such a way that it is not discontinued should its protagonists be removed from power. Free education is a Ghanaian idea, not a partisan one. If the NDC retains power, it must at all cost invite Nana Addo to help champion this idea. The time to give every kid a chance is now. As Nana Addo rightly pointed out, a lot of our so called current leaders benefitted from Nkrumah’s free education policy. If it worked for them, why can’t it work for others? Priming our human resource is one sure way to develop. No human being is expendable and we must do all in our power to make it possible for all kids to go to school in Ghana. Perhaps, we could tinge this effort with means-testing so that those who can afford it, do so.

I hope many of you reading this article have heard of Clarence Thomas the Supreme Court judge in the US. One of the reasons why he is so much hated in the black community in America, a black man himself, is because of his rejection of Affirmative Action, even though it was his ticket to success. Unfortunately, President Mahama risk becoming a Clarence Thomas on this issue. If indeed Mahama benefitted from free education, what nerve does he have in denying other Ghanaians the same opportunity? This is especially true for poor Ghanaians! We must not allow means to serve as a hurdle for optimizing the potential of our best and brightest. In doling out talent, God does not means test us. So why should we shortchange our kids? Where are the religious leaders on this calamity? What would Jesus do? How long will we sanction a situation where our best and brightest sell dog chains and iced water on the hot streets? Have we no shame at all? If we can give Kufour and Rawlings houses, cars, and all kinds of perks, why can’t we educate our poor kids? Something is not right in Ghana and we must correct it!

We must ruminate carefully over education and health. These are two key issues that are critically necessary for development. On these issues, we cannot make excuses. If we plan and prioritize, we can find resources easily for health and education. Kids must go to school and women must stop dying at child birth. We must ask our politicians to sacrifice, plan, prioritize and invest in our kids. I am willing to pay a special tax for education and health in Ghana. Indeed, I am willing to raise money for this cause so long as I am assured that the money will not be abused and mismanaged. I know a lot of Ghanaians who are willing to lend their support to such a noble cause. First, we want to see leadership on the issues. The time is now! No more excuses! After all, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Viva Ghana!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman (Affectionately dubbed the double edge sword)
I don’t give them hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell—Harry Truman