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Opinions of Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Columnist: Appiah-Osei, Lawrence

“Vote Nana Akuffo Addo for Free Petrol and Gas”

Yes, Vote Nana Akuffo Addo for Free Petrol and Gas. Oh! Why, are you confused? Have you not heard about that one? Or Nana has not said that yet? Wait until Nana meets the Taxi Drivers Association and the G.P.R.T.U, and Petrol and Gas will be free for all Ghanaians. It is free, free, free time now.
On the other hand, you are saying as for petrol and gas, it is impossible to give them out for free? Well, you may be right but you have agreed that Senior High School Education can be given out for free. What is the difference? If you think petrol and gas cannot be given out for free, so should you think the senior high school education cannot be free. You can argue that the NPP people are claiming that there is money in the country to pay for free senior high school. So should you accept that there is money in Ghana to pay for free Petrol and Gas.

Look, there is money in Ghana to pay for free petrol and gas but at what quality? Dr. Mensah Otabil said during a sermon in his church that if somebody tells you anything is free, ask them what the quality is? He added that if you do not know the quality, don’t take it for free because when it turns out that the free thing you are getting is bad, you cannot complain. Good counsel!
So yes, there is money to get every Ghanaian child free senior high school education but at what quality? So also there is money in Ghana to get every Ghanaian free petrol and gas but at what quality? If the Government of Ghana decides to buy every Ghanaian free petrol and gas, it could be possible but you will use the petrol and gas for three months and you might have to park your car in the garage for the rest of your life. This is because the quality of the petrol and gas you got for free sent your car to the garage. Have you thought of the overall cost involved? Do you see the similarities between Free Senior High School Education and Free Petrol and Gas in terms of Quality? The free senior high school education Nana Akuffo Addo is promising Ghanaians would start from September 2013. If we are not careful and we fall for it, by December 2013, the quality of education would come crushing down on us and it will take the next government to fix it after four years. Would we know how much damage that would have caused our educational system? Would we want to go that route?
The Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Panyin II, addressing the 21st Anniversary of the Kyebi Senior and Technical School advised politicians to stop playing politics with our education. He also advised parents to be responsible enough to ensure that all children of school going age should be in school and that the parents should provide them with all the necessary resources. The Okyenhene, in his wisdom, did not tell parents to leave the education of their children in the hands of the government for the government to provide free education.
Dr. Mensah Otabil doesn’t believe in free education either. His view of free education is that his employer should pay him well his due and let him have the joy of paying his own child’s school fees. He continued to say if he does that, his child will not be a property of the state. The child is his own child and he should have the dignity of a father to pay his own child’s school fees. When his child grows up, he can proudly tell his child that he paid his school fees. I believe very strongly that these kinds of statements can come from Men of God who have Divine Wisdom from God. Those going about offering free education and those accepting to give their children free senior school education should go to him for counseling. They should not be afraid or feel shy to do that.
Oh, have you read the response given to Dr. Mensah Otabil by The Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Gabby Otchere-Darko? He said on joy-on-line that the successful implementation of the NPP’s Free Senior High School policy will help parents have more disposal income to give church offerings and tithes. Do you see that the NPP has started shifting the goal posts? Now the Free Education is not for economic development and transformation but for paying more tithes and offering in church. The next time the Bar and Restaurant Association will criticize the free education by the NPP, the reason for the free education would be that it will offer Ghanaians disposal income to give more tips; and the next time the head of a family criticizes the free education policy, the NPP will come out to say, the free education will enable people to give more contributions when they go to funerals. This is Chameleon tactics.
Nana Akuffo Addo and the NPP have not yet said they are going to give Free Petrol and Gas not because it is impossible to do but because the Taxi Drivers Association and The G.P.R.T.U have not been loud enough. As soon as they become loud enough, they will have car stickers which say “Vote Nana Akuffo Addo for Free Petrol and Gas”
I am not a prophet of doom but if you vote for Nana Akuffo Addo because of Free Senior High School, you will be sending the quality of education of your child backwards for eight bad years. If your child should be a Doctor in 2020, he will be a Doctor in 2028 or he might not become a Doctor at all. Come to think it. This is why I humbly ask you to vote for President John Mahama and the NDC for Quality, Affordable and Accessible Education. I am not saying this because I am a concerned Ghanaian, but because I agree with Dr. Mensah Otabil that this is good for your child, for you, and for the country now and into the foreseeable future.
“NPP left a big mess for the NDC. They think the NDC is not cleaning it fast enough and so they want to come back and continue with the same mess. Ghana is not going back again. Ghana is moving forward”

Lawrence Appiah-Osei
NDC USA Finance Secretary