I loathe no Mahama, my concerns are the Free SHS, Nurses and Teachers Allowances

John Dramani Mahama John Mahama121234567 Former President, John Dramani Mahama

Fri, 28 Apr 2023 Source: Kwaku Badu

We cannot stand accused of harbouring inherent and risible proclivity for suggesting somewhat honestly and passionately that there are not many patriotic Ghanaians who will shrill and thrill over the return of Ex-President Mahama with the exception of the diehard supporters who probably laid hands on big chunks of the national cake, ostensibly, shared unequally by the former president.

To be quite honest, some of us were extremely surprised when prior to the 2020 general elections, the NDC promised to restore the Nurses and Teachers Allowances the Mahama administration deliberately cancelled in somewhere 2015 which the incumbent president, Akufo-Addo restored on assumption of office in 2017.

Let us however remind ourselves that it was former President Mahama who found it somewhat necessary to cancel the Teachers and Nurses Allowances while in office.

If you may recall, Ex-President Mahama vowed, somewhat unequivocally, not to restore the allowances and that he would rather prefer to lose the 2016 general elections than to offer stipends to the Trainees.

Suffice it to stress that despite the countless supplications by the Trainee Teachers and Nurses, the former president decided to spurn their earnest pleas and went ahead and cancelled the poverty alleviation allowances.

But lo and behold, the dispirited Trainee Nurses and Teachers found a redeemer in Nana Akufo-Addo, who promised wholeheartedly to restore the allowances if voted into office in 2016.

As it was expected, the disheartened Trainee Teachers and Nurses reposed their absolute trust in the candidate Nana Akufo-Addo to set them free from the untold economic hardships and massively voted him into power on 7th December 2016.

True to his word, a few months into his administration, President Akufo-Addo graciously restored the allowances to the utter delight of the Trainee Teachers and Nurses.

The NDC has never supported any youth poverty alleviation policies that successive NPP administrations have initiated and implemented.

If we revisit memory lane, one particular campaign message that dominated the 2008, 2012 and 2016 general elections was the poverty alleviation Free SHS.

While candidate Akufo-Addo and his NPP were promising on all those occasions to implement Free SHS if voted into power, the then-candidate Mahama and his NDC were all over the place campaigning vigorously against the policy.

Interestingly, however, Ghanaians mistakenly bought into NDC’s ‘message’ in two consecutive elections (2008 and 2012) and turned down the seemingly advantageous Free SHS offer.

Nevertheless, on 7th December 2016, the good people of Ghana saw the light and gave the Free SHS ‘promiser’ (Akufo-Addo) a massive endorsement.

To his credit though, within a year into his four-year mandate, President Akufo-Addo commendably implemented the Free SHS to the delight of Ghanaian parents and their children.

Disappointingly, however, no less a person than Ex-President Mahama has conveniently and persistently been criticising Akufo-Addo for implementing the Free SHS policy, allegedly, at the expense of other developmental projects (see: ‘Free SHS crippling other sectors-Mahama, classfmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 24/02/2018).

Former President Mahama was quoted to have lamented during one of the NDC’s 2018 unity health walks: “The problem this government is facing and it is in their own interest, is that, Free Senior High School is absorbing all the fiscal space they have and so almost every money you have, you are having to put it into Free Senior High School. So you can’t pay District Assemblies Common Fund, you can’t pay NHIS (National Health Insurance Scheme), you can’t pay GETFund (Ghana Education Trust Fund), you can’t pay other salaries and things because all your money is going into Free Senior High School.”

Observers can draw and adverse inference from the preceding criticisms that Mahama and the NDC as a party do not fancy the Free SHS, and therefore they are not ready to spend huge amounts of money to run the policy.

There is no denying or hiding the fact that NDC has a penchant for running down or cancelling crucial social interventions. It is a sad case of social democrats who do not know how to initiate and manage social interventions.

Indeed, the erstwhile NDC government wilfully cancelled/collapsed the Nurse’s Allowance, the Teacher’s Allowance, SADA, GYEEDA, NHIS, Maternal Care, the School Feeding programme, the Mass Transport System, amongst others.

Since the inception of the Fourth Republican Constitution, the self-proclaimed social democrats have been opposing social interventions that have been proposed by the successive NPP governments such as the Free Maternal Care, the NHIS, the Metro Mass Transport, the School Feeding Programme, the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), the Free SHS, amongst others.

“Growth, development, and poverty reduction depend on the knowledge and skills that people acquire” (World Bank 2011).

Thus, it is somewhat forward-thinking for the Akufo-Addo administration to seek to bridge the ever-widening social inequalities gap through rational distribution of national resources in the form of Free SHS.

Given the circumstances, it will not come as a surprise at all, if the future NDC government decides to cancel the Free SHS, the Teachers and Nurses Allowances altogether.

Columnist: Kwaku Badu