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Opinions of Thursday, 30 November 2017

Columnist: Elvis Effah

The free SHS brouhaha: an argument between the well-wishers and naysayers.

One thing that has become the talk of town in recent times is the policy of free SHS in Ghana under the auspices of the Nana Addo led-administration. It has been badmouthed by its critics. Nonetheless, it has also received some commendations from its well-wishers. It seems this policy can’t fade away in the process of time.

The free SHS policy is on the lips of every citizen- including the already exhausted passengers in a ‘trotro’ bus. This policy has been a topic of discussion among the top officials and the laymen on the streets. It has always been mixed-feelings as I keenly follow such discussions anytime I find myself in a bus. Despite the fact that the policy has rapidly gained attention in the Ghanaian fraternity, a number of criticisms have been levelled against it. Many are the naysayers who are trying their best possible to cast a gloom on the policy. Seasoned politicians of the opposition party (NDC) have voiced their heartfelt grievances and resentments towards the initiation of this policy.

Notable and recent among these criticisms is the comment of the former president, H.E John Dramani Mahama. The former president while addressing NDC supporters during a unity walk at Tarkwa in the Western Region stated that “just the first year of implementation and we are seeing the challenges. By the time it gets to the second and third years then these problems are going to be multiplied by three.”

Well, I do not want to be seen as a loud-mouth, opinionated bigot who writes on every comment. It has been disheartening how people are willing and quick to criticize. I take that as another sign of our troubling political moment. The question on the lips of many a citizen is “should every policy be politicized?” The truth of the matter is that many politicians in opposition fail to see the pros of a policy since they tend to believe that developing sharp teeth to devour the policies of the incumbent government is the only way to guarantee their victory in an election. In fact, most political parties in Ghana are never exempted from the disease of politics of cynicism.

It seems most politicians in Ghana undergo vigorous rituals to part ways with their conscience and the truth before joining the world of politics. In the mind of every opposition party, palpable truth which is well known to them is seen as a mere hoax and the lie is then painted and crafted as the truth. Every policy of the government is viewed and interpreted with a political lense even if the said policy will auger well to a vast majority of the citizens of Ghana. Most political parties in Ghana, especially the parties in opposition are always quick to pounce on every policy like a famished lion. This attitude of political insincerity which has bedevilled Ghanaian politics is rather weighing us down as a nation.

Funnily enough, policies that are considered to be good in the time when a party is in the helm of affairs suddenly become irrelevant and unnecessary to that same party when they are in opposition. Parties in opposition are constantly intoxicated by the strong desire to possess power to the extent that they fail to see anything good about the ruling government. They tend to forget that “milk and honey have different colours but they share the same house peacefully”. Sincerely praising the beauty of your neighbour’s wife doesn’t make your beautiful wife at home ugly.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the policy has been plagued by quite a number of challenges. So it is with every policy. There are always the usual teething problems at the start of every policy in Ghana which should always be expected.

The merchants of doom and the naysayers should revise their opinion of the policy knowing very well that the magnificent buildings in Rome and the skyscrapers in USA weren’t built in a just a day. Is it not the wise people of old who once retorted that “by crawling, a child learns how to stand?” The policy of free SHS is still evolving and therefore demands the massive support of everyone- be it NPP or NDC. With this policy, children in some deprived parts of the country who struggle to put body and soul together now have the golden opportunity to go to SHS without paying a dime.

As the aphorism goes, “a chick that will grow to a cock can be spotted the very day it hatches”. In my candid view, I see this policy of free SHS as a step in the right direction and should therefore be supported by all and sundry devoid of political biases.

Those in opposition who will like to politicize this policy by forcibly tearing it apart should know that “ashes fly back into the face of those who throw them”.

We should all be supportive and offer fact-based, well-reasoned and constructive criticisms for a thriving policy rather than merely professing that the policy is unsustainable.