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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Columnist: Akosua Manu

The NPP-NDC platforms on NHIS and Free SHS: A mistake we should never repeat

Covers of the manifestos of the NPP and NDC Covers of the manifestos of the NPP and NDC

Throughout the fourth republican democracy, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has been mocked for its ambitious governance ideas.

Their political activists and front liners have been described as bookish, somewhat idealistic, and having an air of superiority.

Some people also, wouldn’t have anything to do with the NPP political tradition because “they are arrogant and feel a part of Ghana belongs to them.”

Well, for starters Ghana belongs to everybody and no citizen should have any illusion about the equality of their stake in this country’s destiny. What’s also factual, is that the NPP’s perception of public service is unique and a tradition to be proud of.

The notion that politics and political organization must liberate the energies of the people for the growth of a property-owning democracy with full rights to life, freedom and justice is an ethos that must be jealously guarded.

These principles were animated in the days of John Agyekum Kufuor when oil was discovered in commercial quantities.

The era of the golden age of business where the Bui dam was constructed, where water supply systems were developed in communities that had never had potable water; where affordable housing was constructed, over 56 model senior high schools established.

The days of the National Youth Employment Program, Free Maternal Health Care, Capitation Grant and the first-ever national health insurance scheme was introduced. Indeed, many have been the NPP’s achievements on social welfare policies that in recent times the party’s capitalist leanings have been brought to question.

At the last event to affirm President Akufo-Addo as the NPP’s candidate for the second term, President Kufuor in his reaction to the party’s performance in government and the FREE SHS tied the bow on the NPP’s ideological reasonings: “We are capitalists with a conscience.”

The fact remains that the NPP’s records on social intervention policies outweigh that of the NDC who are avowed social democrats. Almost all the groundbreaking social policies that the Ghanaian people have benefitted from, were first implemented under an NPP government.

What is astonishing is the NDC’s notoriety of outrightly rejecting these policies and mounting spirited opposition to them especially during the electioneering campaigns only to offer wobbly commentary in support of these policies after they have been implemented and to make some populist promises of making them better if elected in government. From the foregoing analysis, one can establish a clear trend from their posturing on the NHIS and the Free SHS.

As early as 2001, President Kufuor’s government embarked on a process of ensuring equitable and universal access for all residents of Ghana and to ensure that within five years, of implementation, all Ghanaian residents would be signed onto an insurance coverage to deal away with the problem of payout of pocket for essential services famously called “the cash and carry system”.

At the consideration and passage of the bill into law, the then NDC minority walked out of Parliament indicating their refusal to endorse this all-important national policy.

Years later, when another very important national policy for secondary school education was mooted by the NPP’s Presidential candidate, typical of the NDC, they sponsored at least 200 TV and radio adverts in opposition to it. At the time, Free SHS was the NPP’s major platform on education whereas the NDC had nothing significant.

The party would later put across some knee-jerk policy of building 200 community day high schools later to add that they were already implementing some half-baked version of Fee SHS.

Like Free SHS, the NDC called the NHIS a waste of time and money. President Mahama is on record to have said even after he lost the last election that if he had 2billion, he would not spend it on Free SHS.

The obvious question is this: at what point in the NDC’s political life do they realize that well, maybe we can make NHIS a onetime premium or announce that FREE SHS is here to say.

One can only surmise that the constant event is elections. Surprisingly, the NDC has gone as far as saying that NHIS was started under the late Jerry John Rawlings.

That observation is more instructive because the NDC won the elections of 2008 and failed on their promise to introduce a one-time premium for NHIS. Today under an NPP government, our countrymen are renewing their NHIS subscription on their mobile phones as a result of the government’s visionary digitization agenda.

The NDC’s explanation for their inability to implement their one-time premium is that their experts advised on the non-feasibility of the idea. Again, this makes President Mahama’s new posturing on Free SHS very suspicious.

While it’s good enough to declare that the Policy has come to stay, the subtle indications of future reviews of the policy should be a familiar signal.

On December 7th, we are invited to reflect on the NDC’s spirited opposition to these two policies: Free SHS and NHIS, describing them as deception and highly impossible to implement and the NPP’s consistent reasoning on those social policies and the massive benefits that they have brought to the Ghanaian people.

What is clear is that when it comes to ground-breaking social policies that are in the interest of the Ghanaian people, between the two major political parties, one has the intellectual capacity, the courage and the commitment to go through with it and it’s definitely not Mahama’s NDC.

The author is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority and Executive Director of Good Woman, Vote campaign that is encouraging women to go all out and vote for the Retention of Nana Akufo–Addo