It was quite a baptism of fire for former Minister of Education, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, after the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer, ex-President John Dramani Mahama, announced on Monday that he had chosen her as his running mate for this year’s election.Prof. Opoku-Agyemang, 69, hardly had a foot through the door of her appointment before she was welcome with political ‘punches’ from the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), which said it is important to remind Ghanaians what the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast brings to the John Mahama ticket.
The Director of Communication of the NPP, Yaw Buaben Asamoa, stated that “in an ideal world, one of the strongest things going for the selection of the good Professor would be that she is a woman, and this would be met with a lot of enthusiasm.”
Speaking at a news conference in Accra on Monday, Mr. Buaben Asamoa said, however, that it was “unfortunate that Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang hardly meets the expectations of someone who has a track record of fighting for women and their welfare.”
According to him, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang is not new to Ghana politics, and it is her performance during her period as a political appointee that the NPP referred to.
“Need we remind anyone that it was during the tenure of Naana Jane that training teachers’ allowances were scrapped?” he asked rhetorically and added that “it was done without paying any heed to the many appeals to reconsider the decision.”
The NPP communication director noted that the scrapping of the allowances was one of the things Mr. Mahama’s running mate was proud to have done during her time as Minister of Education.
“Teachers were the hardest hit when Naana Opoku-Agyemang was at the helm of affairs at the Education Ministry. Apart from their transportation allowances not being paid, Naana Opoku-Agyemang also introduced the practice of teachers working for two years without being paid and being restricted to being paid only three months back pay, no matter how long they had worked.
“This inhumane treatment meted out to Ghanaian teachers at the time was the brainchild of Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang, the then Minister for Education. The cold-hearted manner in which teachers were treated by Naana Opoku-Agyemang cannot easily be forgotten,” Mr. Asamoa underscored.
“Let it not be forgotten that Prof. Naana Opoku-Agyemang had been a teacher herself before she came to the position of Minister of Education, and yet it was during her period that classroom teachers were denied common chalk to be able to write on blackboards,” he said.
“We remember the infamous ‘We won’t give you chalk today or tomorrow’ comment by Matilda Amissah-Arthur, and this was under the supervision of Naana Opoku-Agyemang,” he added.
The NPP man indicated that it would be unconscionable on part of the governing party not to remind Ghanaians of “the key role played by Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang in the Montie Trio saga.”
“When the Montie Trio threatened death upon some Supreme Court Justices, including the then Chief Justice Theodora Georgina Wood, this newly appointed running mate to Mahama was one of those who joined the campaign for their release,” he indicated.
“Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang’s ardent anti-feminist posturing was too obvious to ignore when she appended her signature to the petition to have the trio who had then been incarcerated at Nsawam to be freed against sound advice from well-meaning Ghanaians,” he added.
Buabeng Asamoah quizzed that “How can a woman who hates her fellow women to the extent that she advocated the release of the jailed trio so that they could rape and kill her fellow women be given such a responsibility?”
He indicated that Ghanaians wondered what the message was that John Dramani Mahama was sending to Ghanaians by picking Prof. Jane Naana as his vice-presidential candidate “when her stewardship in the past brought such heartache to teachers and trauma to her colleague women.”
“While we would wish the NDC well in this regard, we also wish to emphasize that we are ready to tell Ghanaians the danger she poses to our growth and development as a country,” he pointed out.
Progressively Free SHS
According to Mr. Asamoa, the NDC vice presidential candidate superintended over a supposed progressively Free SHS where students were made to pay GH?l,500 to GH?1,700 per student in some schools.
“It is on record that monies budgeted for and approved by Parliament to be paid on behalf of students as day students were never paid to date.
“When she reigned as the Minister for Education teachers were paid three months’ arrears for three years of work, sometimes more than that and sometimes less than that; yearly incremental jump in salary scales of teachers was wickedly cancelled; allowance for Trainee Teachers was cancelled at a time they were paying only 9,000 beneficiaries claiming it was huge on government’s purse.
“Today, we can only conclude that the choice of Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang by Mr. John Dramani Mahama is a clear indication that he does not take the Ghanaian electorate seriously,” he said.
“But then as our own Vice-President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, has famously said it does not matter who the running mate is, if the main man himself is indecisive and incompetent, we still have a problem.”