On Cost Of Free Education
It is not for nothing that the former United States (US) Ambassador to Ghana, Ms. Pamela Bridgewater, wrote some disparaging and worrying report about Akufo-Addo when she profiled all the 2008 aspiring presidential candidates. After praising Akufo-Addo as intelligent, formidable and someone with broad family background and governance experience, Ms. Bridgewater went on to say that Akufo-Addo has poor organizational skills. A representative of the US government in Ghana would never, ever write such a report without any credible facts to back it. In fact, this is the biggest slight or measure of inadequacy unloaded on Akufo-Addo by the US government.
But as usual, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Akufo-Addo’s fingerlings just shrugged off their shoulders as if nothing had happened. Up to today, the NPP folks and Akufo-Addo’s campaign team think that the damning report by Bridgewater is normal. But for a whole aspiring presidential candidate to be described by the US government as lacking organizational skills is something you do not surface shine and consider as normal. I would be extremely worried if during my performance review I am told that, I am blah, blah, blah, but lacks organizational skills.
To me good organizational skills include physical and mental organization and time management capabilities, which are all crucial for a successful person to balance a host of his/her activities. Anybody with good organizational skills is somebody who can also easily walk into any situation and immediately see the bigger picture and device what can be done to improve that situation. It has nothing to do with rhetoric or promises. If you have that talent you act with speed and accuracy on a spur of the moment.
The biggest news in Ghana today is not about the up-coming elections or the biometrics registration exercise which is just about to kick-off. In fact this news has been running since last week and already taxi drivers, fitting mechanics, hairdressers and those who patronize drinking spots have started talking about it. This news has legs and I bet it can run for the next couple of weeks. The news is about the woeful performance of Nana Akufo-Addo during his interview on BBC Hard Talk. In fact Akufo-Addo was caught pants down when the host questioned him about the real cost of the free Senior High School education policy he wants to roll out if he wins the December 7 presidential election.
But Ghanaians who either listened, watched or read the transcript of the interview heard Akufo-Addo very loud and clear telling the interviewer that, “No, it doesn't matter, I prefer to make that statement to the people of Ghana directly first, as to the cost.” Immediately Akufo-Addo stated that he set the stage for Ghanaians to await his policy statement on the cost of his free education as soon as he arrives from the United Kingdom.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is where good organizational skills and effective campaign strategy comes to play. This, in fact, is when people with excellent organizational skills use their head and time wisely and effectively cash in big time. If there is any point in time that Akufo-Addo or for that matter his campaign team should have demonstrated that Akufo-Addo is indeed what he claims to be and should have put Bridgewater and many naysayers to shame, this should have been the time. The opportunity was right there for Akufo-Addo and his campaign team to utilize.
First of all, Ghanaians were keenly expecting Akufo-Addo or his campaign team to put his policy statement on his free education policy together. Secondly, hopes were high that Akufo-Addo would organize a press conference a day after he arrived from the United Kingdom, invite all the stakeholders in education, roll out his free education policy, allow enough time for questioning and put those of us who have questioned the credibility of that promise to shame. The hopes of Ghanaians to listen to Akufo-Addo who promised to tell them first about details of his free education policy were very high, because this issue has been a hot button issue for the past week.
But that hope by Ghanaians to listen to Akufo-Addo as he rolls out his policy statement on how much his free education would cost and how it would be implemented has been crashed by Akufo-Addo. He has rather ducked for cover. In fact, after telling the BBC host that he was going to tell Ghanaians about the programme, he is suddenly missing in action. And Ghanaians have a long time to wait. Akufo-Addo has rather metamorphosed into the regions for another door-to-door campaign, dubbed the, “Tour to Restore Hope.” Akufo-Addo is reported to begin a door-to-door campaign to sell his “vision” on creating a society of opportunities and aspirations. I think it’s rather the tour to restore hope in Akufo-Addo’s floundering and staggering campaign. It is indeed a tour to remake his battered image and also restore hope in his crestfallen supporters that all is well.
Is it not very interesting that any time that Akufo-Addo is put on the spot he fails to deliver or impress? He loves to duck or take cover, rather than stay on the ropes to fight back. This to me is not a good strategy by a serious boxer or presidential candidate. This should have been Akufo-Addo’s moment. Granted that he performed abysmally or wanted to speak to Ghanaians first, this should have been his split second. In fact, this is the time he should have demonstrated that he is on top of his campaign and issues. This should have been the instant that Akufo-Addo should have proven to Ghanaians that he is very serious about the presidency by organizing a press conference a day after he arrived from the UK. But, Akufo-Addo has run away from Accra. To me chickens, who behave like hawks have no place in history.
If Pamela Bridgewater were still in Ghana, I would have carried a big stone and delivered it to her office or residence, because what she said about Akufo-Addo’s lack of organizational skills is right on target. If you are running a campaign of your life, and that campaign is directed and ran by Nana Akomea (The Kenkey Politician), Sammy Awuku (The guy who knows nothing apart from making wild allegations his daily tooth paste) and Kofi Jumah (The guy Kufuor rewarded with the Kumasi Metropolitan CEO position, only for him to turn round to accuse Kufour of soliciting sexual favours being appointing Madam Patricia Appiagyei to replace him), this is what you get.
This time round Akufo-Addo and his team should not make the mistake to conclude that the free education storm is going to go away any time soon. They cannot say it’s a personal issue like the alleged drug abuse and womanizing and refuse to address it. He said he was going to give Ghanaian school kids free education up to senior secondary school level. Let’s hear from him about the specifics. Ghanaians need details. Therefore, Ghana awaits Akufo-Addo to give a policy statement speech on the cost of the free education. This issue is not going away any time soon, because it has legs. And when news has legs it keeps running. Therefore, because this so-called free education story has legs, it has become a running story. It is the latest topical news. People are talking it over at all fronts. If you doubt me, just put your ears on the ground!