Feature Article of Monday, 26 March 2012

Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea

On Education, “Is Akufo-Addo Doing A 419?”

Part Two

by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.

One subject I would have liked to study, if I have the time, would be Methods of Social Research. The first time I heard of the proposition that there was a scientific method to determine who was most likely to win the SRC elections at the University of Cape Coast in 1984, I was very sceptical. "OB", as he was popularly known, undertook the exercise and presented his results well in advance. He indicated his margin of error, which was very small, but I have forgotten the figure. To my utter surprise, every single prediction he had made came to pass! This was a completely scientific prophet! I had several other occasions to follow "OB"s predictions, and it helped me to appreciate a field of science that was not even attracting any attention from me until "OB" came unto the scene. I have not seen nor heard of "OB" since graduation, but if I should hear "OB" contradicting TB Joshua on whichever candidate was going to win whatever, for me, it would just be like the light of knowledge clearing the darkness of ignorance and superstition.

It is impossible to count how many times I have missed "OB"'s predictions. Each time Ghana is going to the polls, I think of him and wonder where in the world he could be, and whether he could give me some training in his wonderful skills to enable me to streetwise, politically speaking. Once more, in an electoral year, "OB" is naturally coming back. The first flash of what I have come to call an "Obalgia", etymologically derived from "algia" and "OB", with "algia" being Greek for "pain and suffering" as in "nostalgia", where "nostos" means "a return home". My first "Obalgia" for elections 2012 was triggered by the comments I saw under my article published in Myjoyonline. What makes the comments section of the Myjoyonline website very interesting for social science is the presence of the option asking readers to vote on all the comments and recommend the ones they agree with. After going through the comments, and the wide margins between those agreeing with me and those disagreeing, my first question to "OB", I could lay my hands on him, would automatically, naively, comically and enthusiastically be, "What do you think is the margin of error here?"

Of course, I know he would need some figures to calculate that, but he can "talk-hard" like Akufo-Addo did on HARDtalk recently, by claiming to know the sum total of the cost of free education, even though he was yet to put the components together! Another thing that makes this comments section even more interesting is that it is fully moderated, so you don't see any of those disgusting comments that are almost becoming a permanent feature on Ghanaweb for example. As at 5-38 GMT on Mar 23, 2012, there were 15 reader comments in all. The last one had received 0 recommendations. It is clear that being the last one, previous voters might not have seen it and therefore, the quality of such a poll might be suspect right from the beginning. It is also possible that people are unable to vote for against due to the ambiguity of the comment in question. It is not clear who he is talking about, since those who find the article too hot to handle, choose to speak of the writer instead of the subject. He simple wrote: "Enemy of Progress." Very little wonder he scored zero!

It is about the outstandingly high-scoring comments that gave me the "obalgia". The highest score at the time of writing was one made by A.I.K at 10-25 GMT, on the 23rd March, 2012:

"I watched the interview and I was proud of Akufu-Addo's composure from the beginning. But on the free SHS education lets all be frank with our selves and put politics aside and tell the truth. It was disgraceful the answers given by Nana." It had been recommended 97 times. Initially, I hesitated before recommending it because I also watched the interview, and even though he sounded confident and empty, he was completely inarticulate, for instance he fumbled over simple sentences such as "I don't believe... I think that... No, I don't accept this proposition at all", "The costing... the costing... is being... is being done. I mean very very soon we will be in the position", "Very, very soon, we are going to be... put it together." I ended up voting for it all the same! It now stands with a whopping "Recommend 98"!

The second high-scorer was a comment by "mantsebi", 8-42 GMT, Mar 23, 2012: "nana addo is a phony!" Recommend: 76

"NPP thinks Ghanaians are fools", chipped in Ama, "that promising them free education will make them vote massively for them. some of us are too sharp to be deceived." Ama's comment, Mar 23, 2012, 13-08 GMT, scored 56 recommendations.

"Am afraid Nana was not able to even identify the fact that Prof Mills has rigorously improved on the economy by bringing inflamation to single digits. He needs to know what is good for Ghana to enhance development of this nation. We can't allow him to gamble with our economy and for that matter our developmental drive. No, not this time! He has clearly proved that he has indeed no better plan for my beloved motherland, GHANA.", - Nana Antwi-Berko Mar 23, 2012, 12-54 GMT: Recommend 44

"psychologically everybody knows Nana Akyea Mensah is bias His kind of analysis should be left with SHS debators clubs to use so he employs a more matured constructive way of analysing each sentence in an interview. When each politician in Ghana is analysed on each and every utterance they've made on the political scene, you find our president lying about the one time NHIS payment when he knows, as a tax expert that it is impossible. Is he also a 419 person? Let him then write on the Woyome scandal, the One time NHI premium lie, NYEP bankrupcy and the like. Logically that is more important than one interview. Woyome's money for instance can be used for a lot more for Ghana.i think Ghanaians will decide who the better 419 is come december 2012." - delali aklamanu Mar 23, 2012, 11-49 GMT: Recommend 1

"Nana Addo was prescised and conscised with his response to the question on free SHS. First, he told Stephen Sackur that HARDTALK was not the appropriate platform to reveal the source(s) of funding of his free SHS promise. He said that he would prefer disclosing the source(s) of his free SHS promise to Ghanaians before anybody else. Second, Nana Addo mentioned the OIL, NATURAL RESOURCES, and INTERNAL REVENUE as the main sources of funding for the free SHS education, when Sackur probed furthur. What again were the distractors expecting Nana Addo to say? Unless they did not understand the impecable Queen's english spoken by Nana Addo.

Third, on the platform of the recent Garguantuan Rally of NPP, Nana Addo made it clear that even the whopping sum of money paid to Wayomegate (510 billion old ceids); Waterville gate ($25 million dollars) and CP Constructions (94 million Euros plus 248 million Dutchmark) could be used to finance his free SHS education mantra. If NDC could get C130 trillion old cedis to pay non-existence judgement debt within 4 years, why can't Nana Addo get funding for the free education up to SHS? Nana Addo all the way!!!!!!!!!" Recommend 1

I gave the reason for writing this particular article as a traumatic need to wonder aloud and find out if Akufo-Addo is getting away with this, in the part one: "For those of you who might be familiar with the symptoms, mine include an intrusive and repetitive need to wonder aloud as to whether or not Nana Akufo-Addo really thought he could get away with such a lugubrious drollery?" Aloud, I wondered. And in came the answers. I thank all those who responded, both negatively and positively. My trauma has been healed, I am fine, thank you, but with that off, "obalgia" sets in. Normally, I would not need to go and waste the precious time of my good friend OB asking him to explain to me what is going on in scientific terms, but my "obalgia is intense for the simple reason that I am used to knowing the margin of error, just for purely academic reasons. As for the implications on the public perception of Akufo-Addo and his campaign promise, I think I have found the answer for daring to wonder aloud! The trauma that Akufo-Addo gave me has been healed by the Ghanaian public.

I am not only fine, but I feel good, as I feel my heart going into an extremely sincere “THANK YOU! MODE”
Thank you all very much! I love Ghanaians! They are so smart!

Forward Ever! Backwards Never!