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Opinions of Friday, 31 July 2020

Columnist: Peter Antwi Boasiako

Who advices JM on education and constitutional matters?

John Dramani Mahama John Dramani Mahama

I took my time today to study the statement read by the Flag-bearer of NDC, Mr John Dramani Mahama, on the day of outdooring his running-mate, Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang. I picked two issues, and concluded that, still JM is dangerously incompetent to be President of Ghana again.

Reading through his speech and checking the feasibility of his promises against the constitution of Ghana, I asked few questions that; Can the President of Ghana dictate the payment of Assemblymen without a recourse to Ghana constitution which stipulates how the Assemblymen should be paid? Does the constitution allow payments of Assemblymen from the consolidated Fund? And can the President determine the functions of Assemblymen in Ghana to be differently from the designated functions prescribed by Parliament, by law?

JM, in his speech stated that, "Of course, the elephantine-size government of 125 ministers we have been burdened with for four years will be reduced drastically. The savings made from emoluments of reduced number of ministers and the privileges they enjoy will be channelled towards paying Assembly Members to perform the function of collecting accurate births and deaths information in their various electoral areas."

But my checks from Ghana's constitution shows that either JM made that statement for the purpose of malicious deception or out of ignorance of the law governing the payment and functions of the Assemblymen.

The Article 250 (2) of Ghana constitution clearly states that, "The emoluments of a Presiding Member of a District Assembly and other members of the Assembly shall be determined by the District Assembly and paid out of the Assembly's own resources."

Therefore, on what grounds is JM claiming to use the savings made from the supposed emoluments of reduced number of ministers and the privileges they enjoy will be channelled towards paying Assembly Members to perform the function of collecting accurate births and deaths information in their various electoral areas, whiles the constitution designates how the Assemblymen are to be paid out of the Assembly's own resources? Would JM seek an amendment of the constitution first before this happens?

The Article 245 (a)&(b) acutely dictate the functions of the Assemblymen. That, "Parliament shall, by law, prescribe the functions of District Assemblies which shall include" -

(a) the formulation and execution of plans, programmes and strategies for the effective mobilization of the resources necessary for the overall development of the district;

(b) the levying and collection of taxes, rates, duties and fees.

So, why seek to redefine the functions of Assemblymen out of fallacies and the figments of his own empty promises, suggesting to Assemblymen to rather go round in their electoral areas and collect accurate certificates of births and deaths? Is that the functions of the Assemblymen? This is completely unconstitutional.

To me, it doesn't come as a surprise that JM is still making same dreadful mistakes even in opposition on educational policies.

On education, JM said in his speech that, "She (Naana Jane) has already begun her policy briefing sessions as incoming Vice President, ready and willing to work hard for Ghanaians."

This statement by JM does not come as a surprise to many critical thinkers as the NDC Flag-bearer, is known to be expect in making grievous mistakes on education policies with Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as the main advisor.

Not long ago, it can be recalled that when Nana Akufo-Addo's govt announced the introduction of Teacher Licensure Examination, the former President John Mahama, in one of his Facebook live interaction, quickly stated that when voted back into power, he would cancel the examination and abolishe the mandatory National Service by teachers.

However, in quick response to JM at a press conference in Accra, the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) declared 100 percent support for the introduction of Teacher Licensure Examination, which they argued would be used to license teachers to practice as professional teachers, indicating that the examination is an important benchmark in distinguishing professionals from non-professionals.

So, the question is, who Advised Mr John Dramani Mahama on this matter? This, in any shape and size, was an embarrassment to the NDC Flag-bearer, should have known better, someone who has suffered a painful defeat due to wrongful cancellation of similar education policies and should have consulted properly before making comment on the Teacher Licensure Examination. Would anybody doubt if Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang advised him to cancel this as well? This erratic decision is quite worrying.

I can only shutter to think what may go through the minds of readers if I argue that JM probably received counsel from any other person other than his running-mate, to cancel the Licensure Examins if he wins.

I suggest this because, in his speech at the outdooring recently, the NDC Flag-bearer, John Mahama attributed that, "It was under Professor Opoku-Agyemang that teachers were automatically posted without National Service and Licensure Examinations".

Isn't this worrying to think of handing over the affairs of Ghana education into the trust of John and Jane?

Isn't the same team that cancelled the Trainee Teachers Allowance? The same team cancelled the Trainee Nurses Allowance, and the same team blatantly cancelled the Arabic Trainee Teachers Allowance. Can anyone ever trust John and Jane?

Question: who Advices the NDC Flag-bearer, John Dramani Mahama on Education and Constitutional Matters?