By Margaret Jackson
I do not hate Nana Akufo-Addo. Neither do I envy him or disrespect him. But as a Ghanaian who has a stake in the national cake by virtue of being a tax payer just as every other Ghanaian, I have every right under the sun to question the authenticity and viability of the promises he has been unloading on the campaign trail. This is because if I keep quite just like many Ghanaians are doing and God forbid Akufo-Addo sneaks his way to victory in the up-coming elections in December, and he makes bad decisions, it would affect me big time. That is why I have decided to hold him accountable for every word that he utters concerning his desire to be the next president of this our great country.
I was the first person to raise an alarm on how Akufo-Addo was evasive with his answers on his so-called Free Secondary Schooling for all Ghanaians when he was interviewed on BBC’s Hard Talk (See my article: http://www.modernghana.com/news/381899/1/bbc-floors-and-exposes-akufo-addo.html). In fact, I informed readers that since Akufo-Addo could not tell listeners how much his much trumpeted free education was going to cost, he was most likely taking Ghanaians for a big ride or just deceiving them to vote for him.
Akufo-Addo during the interview could not even state confidently that he has the cost of the project, but was just beating about the bush that by saying, “the costing… the costing… is being done. I mean very, very soon we will be in the position.” And when the interviewer pointedly told Akufo-Addo to state the cost of his ambitious but unattainably education project since many Ghanaians are listening to the Hard Talk interview, here is what he said, “No, it doesn't matter, I prefer to make that statement to the people of Ghana directly first, as to the cost, and any time..”
Many good people of Ghana saw some sense in the issues I raised but not the NPP folks who heaped series of insults on me for daring to poke holes in Akufo-Addo’s interview on BBC. Now I want to draw the attention of readers to how deceptive the NPP folks are. Akufo-Addo told the BBC interviewer that he would tell Ghanaians directly first about the cost of the education. But hours after my article had been published on many websites and newspapers, the NPP beat a sudden retreat and enter Prof. Gyan Baffour, former deputy Finance Minister in the Kufour’s government.
Prof. Baffour did not even wait for Akufo-Addo to return from his trip abroad, but came out to state on Joy News that the free Senior High School education policy is estimated to cost $150 million in its first year of implementation. And to make matters worse for the reeling Akufo-Addo, Prof. Baffour, who thinks Ghanaians are gullible further stated that the amount to be spent on the free Senior High School education policy is expected to swell to about $400 million in subsequent years after the policy has been rolled out. Just that? Just stating how much the policy would cost without anything to back it? And the NPP thinks that hollow information would silence everybody who has been questioning it? They are dead wrong.
If Akufo-Addo indeed has anything on paper concerning this ambitious project, I bet he would have released it to prove to Ghanaians how serious he is about the presidency, but just sending one of his fingerlings to further throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians by giving figures without any policy backing, makes the NPP folks very laughable.
But I thank God that in spite of the insults and taunting from the NPP folks, I am still standing. I am standing because my questioning of the feasibility of that unattainable project by Akufo-Addo has been given further boost by Imani Ghana, a policy think-tank that has largely given the NPP a free ride in everything since it burst into the scene. Therefore, for Imani Ghana to question the credibility of Akufo-Addo’s free education policy speaks volumes and has already raised eyebrows in many political circles.
Mr. Bright Simmons, a Fellow at Imani Ghana, Bright Simmons, told Joy News that Akufo-Addo’s policy appeared to be too ambitious for now and unrealistic. Mr. Simmons added, “We need to know a couple of things from the New Patriotic Party, one is…how much of the private household expenditure on secondary education it intends to absorb and whether in their analysis the absorption of that percentage is necessary or sufficient to ensure that parents continue to send their children to secondary school who otherwise may not have continued to do so.” Wala! Oyiwa! We said it!
Even though Imani Ghana waited too long to question the viability of the project, at least they have demonstrated that they also have the country at heart and will not allow Akufo-Addo to take Ghanaians for a long ride by promising what he cannot deliver.
There are some Ghanaians, especially the NPP folks who think that free education under this century is feasible in Ghana. I bet, it is not! Even in advanced countries like the United States, Britain and Germany among others, there is nothing like free education. Ghanaians who live in the United States can confirm that unless you get a full scholarship or grant, you have to borrow money to foot your university education. Therefore, a country such as Ghana, cannot foot such a programme being touted by Akufo-Addo.
Therefore, I am gratified that Imani Ghana has finally found its voice to tell Akufo-Addo in the face that what he is touting to Ghanaians is very misleading since he can never ever attain it unless he backs the programme up with a clear policy on fund sourcing and implementation. And what even makes this promise by Akufo-Addo more laughable and suspicious is that, it is not even in the NPP Manifesto. People should grab copies of the NPP manifesto and see if indeed Akufo-Addo ambitious educational programme is enshrined in the manifesto or not.
I think as Ghanaians we should not just sit and allow any politician to come and deceive us. We have the onerous right and duty to question the policies and promises they trumpet to get our votes. We sit down quietly at our own peril! At least we know Akufo-Addo who in his desire as the wannabe president always has the tendency to muddle the waters with unattainable promises. Akufo-Addo still seems to be clothed in the 1960 campaign tactics and strategies. But we should be bold enough and tell him in the face: Not this time!