The attempt by former President John Mahama to lay claim to the Free Senior High School policy being implemented by President Nana Akufo-Addo and his government is too late in coming, pollster Ben Ephson has said, wondering: “Who will believe you [John Mahama]?”
The presidential candidate of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) first made the claim on Tuesday, 24 November 2020, while on a tour of some constituencies in the Upper East Region.
Mr Mahama said: “We started the programme [Free SHS] and the NPP [Ne Patriotic Party] came and continued it.”
The former President later wrote on his Facebook wall: “We invented it and will make it even better”.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has, however, described the opposition flagbearer’s claim as an “outright lie”, recalling that Mr Mahama had said in the lead-up to the 2016 general elections as an incumbent that if he had GHS2 billion, he would use it for something else rather than pay the fees of SHS students to enjoy free education.
Commenting on Mr Mahama’s recent claim to the policy, Mr Ephson, who is the Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch newspaper, told Abdul-Karim Ibrahim on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Thursday, 26 November 2020 that President Akufo-Addo rather than the opposition leader, will benefit electorally from the policy.
“Within the past few days, ex-President Mahama has laid claim that he started Free SHS in 2015. You’ve been in opposition for almost four years; in less than two weeks to the elections, you are now laying claim to [Free SHS]; who will believe you?” Mr Ephson asked.
According to him, “if you analyse the 2020 voter register, 1.3 million voters are between the ages of 18 and 19 years; the majority of them are an offshoot of the Free SHS policy”.
He revealed that his own poll works on the ground show that even supporters of the NDC will vote for President Akufo-Addo because of the Free SHS policy.
“We met people who were NDC, who said they would vote for their NDC parliamentary candidate and vote for NPP so that the Free SHS will be sustained”, Mr Ephson said.
“And this question went deliberately to people who we knew were NDC. You see: if you look at the polling station votes, you’ll know which area votes for NDC. We asked them: on what basis are you going to vote?” Mr Ephson noted.
He wondered why Mr Mahama waited all this while to lay claim to the policy.
“You’ve been in opposition for four years, you were selected as the [presidential] candidate two years ago and you’re now trying to let people know you started it? But here is somebody who is an NDC person who is voting Akufo-Addo not because he loves Akufo-Addo but because of Free SHS.
“So, this Free SHS is going to give Akufo-Addo a lot of bonus”, Mr Ephson added.