Free SHS: I will reverse it - Mahama hints
Former President John Dramani Mahama has taken a swipe at President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for rushing to implement the free Senior High School (SHS) policy, hinting of a possible reversal of the programme by a future National Democratic Congress (NDC) government since it is not mandatory.
“Why should the government introduce free education now when the Constitution says it should be done progressively? In fact, it is not by force to introduce free SHS now,” Mr John Mahama underscored.
The former president predicted that the challenges associated with the free Senior High School (SHS) policy would not cease unless there was a comprehensive funding strategy.
According to him, President Nana Akufo-Addo and the government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) should have organized a national stakeholders’conference on the policy to enable Ghanaians to make suggestions as to how the policy could be implemented effectively.
“But there was no consultation prior to the implementation of the policy. I want to advise the president that it is not too late.
“He should immediately organize a consultative forum to discuss funding options for the policy as was done prior to the establishment of the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) during President Rawlings’ regime and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), introduced by former President Kufuor,” he suggested.
Interestingly, the NDC in parliament – which Mr John Mahama was part and parcel of at the time – boycotted the passage of the NHIS law on the same ground of no funding arrangements.
The former president also accused President Akufo-Addo and his NPP administration of giving Ghanaians fake assurances and pledges prior to the 2016 general elections, when in actual fact, he (Mahama) and his team had nothing significant to offer.
He was addressing hundreds of supporters of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) at Tarkwa in the Western Region at the end of a ‘unity walk’ organized by the NDC last Saturday.
The ‘unity walk’ was aimed at re-energizing the grassroots of the NDC as part of ongoing efforts towards rebuilding the party as recommended by the Professor Kwesi Botchwey Committee that investigated the causes of the party’s humiliating defeat in last year’s elections.
The exercise, which was also patronized by the majority of illegal miners, also called galamseyers in the Tarkwa and Prestea area, was the fourth in a series of walks after similar events had been held in Accra, Tamale and Cape Coast. It was attended by the party’s bigwigs, including the former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah.
The galamseyers kept on chanting, “We want our galamsey back and not free education.”
Mr Mahama indicated that President Akufo-Addo and the members of his government could not be the repository of all wisdom, adding, “They are leading as though they have the entire world’s knowledge and could fix everything on their own, independent of suggestions and recommendations from any other camp.”
The former president asserted that the Free SHS policy’s failure would even be imminent, with the announcement of a programme to get volunteers to fund it.
“The creation of the Voluntary Contribution Fund to solicit the support of Ghanaians will not help. Immediately, let’s call a national stakeholders’ conference on how to finance Free SHS,” he emphasised.
‘NPP’s Promises Are Fake’
Former President Mahama told the NDC supporters that majority of Ghanaians were getting disappointed with the NPP because the party made promises it could not fulfill.
“It is clearly evident that after the NPP took power, most people are getting disappointed because the things they promised to do are not what Ghanaians are seeing,” Mr Mahama asserted.
He continued, “The NPP promised to give each constituency $1 million a year, but we were in government and we knew that looking at our resources, it was impossible to give every constituency that amount; but they kept on promising and now they can’t fulfill it.”
I Don’t Lie
According to Mr Mahama, the NDC saw no reason and justification to make pledges and promises to the public, knowing very well that there was little possibility of them being achieved.
Unlike the NPP, Mr Mahama indicated that he had not been trained to peddle falsehood and make unachievable promises without considering the actualities on the ground and how feasible fulfilling the promise would be.
“NDC is a party which doesn’t lie; we don’t tell lies. We don’t promise on what we can’t fulfill and if we can, we will promise on that. “Prior to the 2016 elections, a lot of people came to me to tell me to make promises to Ghanaians like the NPP was doing, to promise a lot even when I know I may not be able to deliver eventually; but I told them that I was not trained like that and that if I know I can’t fulfill a promise, I won’t give fake assurances that I can do it,” he told the crowd.
On the ban on illegal mining, the former president told the people that the NDC government was going to introduce some new policies to regulate mining.
He indicated that currently in the mining code, there is small and large-scale mining but pointed out that the small-scale mining had mixed up with the medium-scale ones.
“So we decided to bring three scales – large, medium and small – and hold a national conference on mining in Kumasi before the law, which was also aimed at protecting the environment, will be implemented,” he announced.
According to him, the ban on illegal mining should have been accompanied by the introduction of alternative livelihood programmes.
NDC Was Divided
Former President John Mahama admitted that the party was divided particularly at the grassroots levels prior to the 2016 general elections, hence, the need to organize the walk to help unite the party at the grassroots.
He therefore admonished the party supporters to play active roles in its rebuilding process and ensure that they offer maximum support for any person who emerges as the flag bearer of the party for the 2020 general elections.
“Let us forgive the sins of each other so we can forge ahead and then when we go for the presidential congress, we all support the individual that emerges as flagbearer, then that person takes us to the elections in 2020,” he entreated.
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ellembelle, Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, has indicated that Ghanaians are anxiously waiting for former President John Mahama to come back in 2020 as president.
Addressing the party supporters earlier, he remarked, “We are ready for JM and the victory of JM is coming again.”