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Knowledge over money

Wed, 22 Jul 2020 Source: Frank Kuanyawo

The bible says, “servants ride on horses while princes walk.” We are in this together because of the silence of good people. The governors of our country are rather seen on our streets doing the menial jobs. I cannot continue to be a spectator.

I am writing because I am a citizen and cannot continue to vote for persons who have no ideas as far as nation building is concerned. To me, nation building is a passion borne out of love and it is not for people whose main goal is material acquisition.

Afterall, you do not have to be a politician before making a difference in your country. You can make a difference wherever you are, regardless of your status, qualification, position and prestige.

We live in a country where those who are bold to speak the truth are regarded as arrogant and devil fearing.

Liars, hypocrites and cowards who pretend to be pious are rather regarded as humble and God fearing. I do not know what we understand by the phrase “God fearing?” We fail to think through everything.

We have allowed material possession to take over our sense of judgements and responsibilities. We have allowed few celebrated empty-headed criminals to take us for granted in the name of politics, guided by a constitution written by few selfish personalities.

One thing we as electors refuse to know is that the people we put in office have no power. We have the power and they are just in positions of authority. We decide who rules us and we must do that wisely and out of love. Ghana does not belong to anybody or group of persons.

Ghana belongs to every one of us – teachers, physicians, lawyers, engineers, market women, kayayes, truck pushers, farmers and the rest. It is not for Rawlingses, Kuffuors, Mahamas and Akuffos. Neither is it for the NDC nor the NPP. Everyone has the same opportunity to become a member of parliament or a president of Ghana.

Observing politics from 1993 till date, one can tell what the NDC and the NPP are up to. They are the same but with different strategies. The very thing they opposed while out of power, they support that very thing while in power. For corruption, the least talked about it the better.

Nobody, l say nobody can stop corruption due to the way sponsorships to political campaigns are done. There is no system in place to check the sources of funding of the various campaigns. We must take time to build the system first. We must start planning for generation instead of planning for election.

How can a country with all the rich mineral resources and a vibrant population of only less than 30 million be struggling for survival? Ninety nine percent of the nation’s wealth is distributed among one percent of its population while one percent of the remaining wealth is distributed among the ninety nine percent of the population.

This is because those we elect to office to preside over and manage our resources are just DEALERS and not LEADERS. They are only thinking of how to develop themselves and their families instead of developing the nation and its people. That is a shame.

Before I continue, let us look at two scriptures.

1.Ecclesiastes 10:19b (And money is the answer for all things).

2. Hosea 4:6 (My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge).

The first scripture means money can be used to do good or bad depending on who has it.

The second one means that knowledge is power. And that is what we must seek after. When the bible says my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, or in other words, knowledge is power, it means with knowledge you have the power to overcome everything including the abuse of money. Knowledge is better than money. We are in this rat race together because we celebrate those with money rather than those who have knowledge.

The reason we cannot feed our people is money rules instead of knowledge. To win power in our country in order to rule depends on how much money one has and not how much knowledge one has as far as nation building is concerned. They are there because they have money to buy power.

That is exactly what money can do when it is in the wrong hands. For example, if Dr. Kwame Nkrumah were alive today with all his knowledge, can he rule Ghana? No, because he cannot have the money to contest for the primaries.

I thank God free education has come to stay. As a teacher l taught in rural and underprivileged schools which have no libraries. I taught in privilege schools as well of which SOS Hermann Gmeinner, Tema is one of them. I finally taught in Tema Secondary School. Before the free SHS, we were teaching under trees in Tema Secondary School. Some classes were even up to 70 students especially for the core subjects.

For me, as a teacher, free education is the beginning of the solution to Ghana’s problems. The first step to building a nation is to educate everyone. When a person is educated, he is liberated. It is not always necessary to further your studies after you complete the SHS.

It is not a race. At least a driver who is an SHS graduate is more informed than a driver who is a JHS graduate. Let us not forget that the quality of the minds of children influences the development of a nation. Let us also not forget that in all these, teachers matter most.

Now the question is, how do we contribute to the sustenance of free education? Before we answer this question, let us pause and ask ourselves a few questions. Is it good to have free education? Do we have the money to sustain free education? Yes, it is good. Nobody should be left out of school because of money. Yes, Ghana has the money and the resources.

We must also appreciate the fact that the free education came to expose the rots in the Ghana education service. There are no challenges and difficulties we are facing today which were not there before the free education started.

Now l will tell you a few things we can do to sustain free education.

There are too many wastes in the system.

Since Ghana belongs to us all, l believe that the constitution should be looked at again, bringing everyone on board. The citizens decide how much to be paid a politician because building a nation should be a sacrifice.

Whoever wants to go into politics is doing so not because of what they will get but what they will give to their nation. That is why it is always best for one to achieve a private victory before going into politics.

Nobody is putting pressure on anyone to do politics. We are looking for people who are ready to contribute their time, energy and resources to the development of our nation. Such people should be self-sufficient and must love their country.

Ghana does not need 275 MPs. 100 is enough. From 1993 what do we observe from our parliament? The minority have their say and the majority have their way. The government of the day will make sure everything is done in its favour. This renders parliament a useless arm of government. We have district assemblies that see to the development of the districts.

Why have MPs’ common fund when the MPs are not accountable for that fund. The salaries of the politicians are too much for the nation to afford. For me again, the government of the day can run the country without parliament if need be.

We do not need more than 40 ministers. Whether 80 or 130 ministers, they are all not necessary. Why do we take loans to buy cars for the politicians, inflate the price of the cars and then sell it back to them at about 80% discount when the cars are used within 48 months? Which reasonable entity does that?

We cannot afford to give every ex-president two houses, four cars, ghc 29, 000 a month, ex gratia of more than ghc500,000 and so many other benefits and yet the constitution will not allow us to try them for any mismanagement or wrongdoing.

This is the person who goes round the country asking us to vote for him to change the situation for us. They go to power only to amass wealth for themselves. Why are we doing all these to ourselves in a developing nation? Nobody forces anybody.

Just a quick reminder.

During Rawling's time, the disparity between the salaries of workers and that of politicians was almost the same (any investigative journalist can find out). I also remember that Attah Mills was earning ghc4,200. He said the GHC 4,200 was enough and he was not going to take any allowances.

Four months after Attah Mills died, the president's salary was increased to ghc12,000 and four years arrears were paid. MPs salaries were increased from ghc3,000 to ghc7,200 and arrears for four years were also paid. (other government workers worked for about two years and the government said they should be paid for only three months).

Four years after the demise of Prof. Mills, the president’s salary was increased to over GHC30,000 a month. That for MPs was increased from ghc7,200 to about ghc15, 000 a month and arrears were paid. Workers’ salaries remain the same because they are not serving their nation.

It is for this reason that young medical doctors are vacating their profession to do politics instead. I remember a friend asking a very sensitive question when we heard that Zanetor is going into politics instead of being a physician in the hospital.

He asked, ‘between Dr. Zanetor and Dr. Fidelis who is in Kwame Danso hospital, who is an honorable person?’ I will not tell you what my answer was because you are also the best judge. But the question is, between hospital and parliament, where can a young medical doctor make a difference in people’s lives most? Hmmmmmmmm.

Winner takes all should also be abolished and a better system should be put in place to make use of every relevant citizen who can help transform our nation. How long can we afford to see Dr. Abu Sakara and others without helping their nation just because their party is not in power?

I believe Akuffo Addo is also engaging a committee to look at upward adjustment of the emoluments of the politicians. What a shame. This must stop. People who claim to transform our nation should not become a burden and headache to us.

We do not need a new MPs chamber. Ex-gratia for politicians must be abolished. These are just a few ways we can generate money to sustain the free education which benefits every household.

For the free SHS to work effectively and efficiently, the teacher’s welfare must be paramount. Teachers are the most important persons in every nation. Teachers are also the second parents of children in every nation. Mistreating your teachers in your country is the same as mistreating your parents at home.

What i believe also is, classrooms can be under trees but when the teachers are well resourced and motivated, the teachers are determined that every one of their students thoroughly master the subject and achieves a desired result.

Once the teachers’ needs are met, quality education would be provided. In other words, teachers will provide transformational education – education that changes the academic and life trajectories predicted by children’s socioeconomic background. We can have good educational infrastructures but if the condition of service of teachers is poor, we will not get the desired results.

Let us not forget that education is the door that opens the path to knowledge. With knowledge one is in control of his life and destiny. It helps in reduction of poverty, unemployment and helps in developing strong society.

When we fail to ensure our children attain a quality education, we pay a massive cost – in moral, civic and economic terms. Teachers are the first and most important persons involved here, and students come second. How do we treat our teachers?

When the late President Attah Mills was thinking of the provision of quality education, GETFUND was established. Then came allowances for teacher retention. His next action was to pay extra money to teachers who accepted posting to rural areas in order to end the educational inequity.

His other proposal is to establish an allowance for core subjects’ teachers because of their work loads.

Imagine this. A teacher completed university and was posted to Tema Secondary School.

He needs an accommodation (single room self-contain) which costs GCH400 a month and he is asked to pay two years advance of GHC9,600. He has not worked before and has no bank account. What do you think is going to be the result? I have not talked about his transportation to and from school. Let us all think of the above points.

I am also using this media to encourage those from poor and underprivileged homes to take advantage of this great opportunity and go to school. Ignore the naysayers. Their children are not here in the country with us. Their children will not vote. Remember, you are intelligent and smarter than their children. Drop the phones for now. It does not matter whether it is a gold track or silver track.

They made it four years and they brought it to three years and yet they are now saying all the negative things. This is the time for us from poverty-stricken homes. Ignore all the challenges and difficulties. Concentrate and be determined.

Those in vigilante and avoka groups, l urge you to leave those groups and take advantage of the free SHS and you will discover that you are better than the politicians who form the groups for you and your children are also better than their children. When you do not take the advantage now, their lazy children will also rule over your brilliant children.

My appeal to the government is to take a serious look at the welfare of teachers by giving them a starting pay of not less than ghc5000 a month with all other benefits. Then the result will be amazing.

My other appeal is that the winner takes all should also be abolished.

Ghana now needs visionary thinkers who have revolutionary characters. We are not looking for people who use money to buy power.

Enough of the NDC and the NPP.

Akuffo Addo has also failed us and needed to be voted out but for now, there is no alternative. For the bold decision to establish the free SHS, l pray to God to give you 4 more years to properly document the free SHS and make proper provision for teachers, so nobody comes to do away with it.

For now, you have nobody to challenge you in the forthcoming election. After all, the NDC ruled for 16 years and we were all witnesses to their performance in their last four years. We cannot afford to give Ghana back to the current NDC. We do not have short memories.

The destinies of millions should not be jeopardized. Nation building is not about only infrastructures. Policies are more important. Building infrastructure and inflating the prices is not nation building.

If that is the yardstick, then my mother who was a middle school dropout could have been a president. It is a sad story for our country. But let us not forget. We need a third and a stronger party in 2024 to do away with the NDC and the NPP.

Let us not protest because of the election but for the constitution of our land. Re-writing our constitution should be our priority from now. I advise all the young ones in politics with no private victories to go back to school to develop themselves.

They are only wasting their future. Nation building is about exchange of great ideas and not exchange of great insults. Let us rise and vote out all the sitting MPs for the good of our country.

Enough is enough.

It is my belief that soon, knowledge will win over money in nation building.

Let us build a nation where everyone will understand and believe that we can all not be equal, but we can all be happy together.

Ghana must be the gateway of Africa. Let us make Ghana great.

Long Live Ghana.

God Bless Ghana.

Columnist: Frank Kuanyawo