A few months ago, I predicted that the Free SHS policy will dominate the 2020 electioneering campaign, and how right I was.
“The introduction of Free SHS was not built on some pompous political agenda to grab social-democratic narratives from those who surprisingly have shunned their ideology for quick wins (Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta 2019).”
Some of us, so to speak, are extremely surprised to hear Mahama claiming forcefully: “We started the programme and the NPP came and continued it. Unfortunately, the implementation has been very poor, and so it ended us in double track.”
Apparently, during the 2016 electioneering campaign, former President Mahama was captured on tape emitting vehemently: “Hey! That Ghana must not introduce Free SHS on a whimsical promise of a desperate politician”. “Many mistakes have been made by countries in Africa already with Free SHS.”
“The government has budgeted 2 billion cedis for Free SHS for this academic year”. “If you have 2 billion more to spend on education, would you spend all of it on Free SHS, so that even when people can afford to pay, they don’t have to pay?”
It was thus not surprising for Akufo-Addo to emit his astonishment: “I heard something yesterday that surprised me. The former President stated that my promise to start the free SHS policy was false and just a ploy to deceive Ghanaians. He was strongly against the policy and stated that if he had the money to implement that policy, he will use it for something else. He also said it will take Ghana years to implement it but now he is saying he started the Free SHS, and it’s surprising.”
Somehow, in the early stages of the policy implementation, the sceptics moved heaven and earth to discredit the policy implementation in order to score cheap political points.
But some of us, as a matter of principle, fought tooth and nail and deflated any vile propaganda intended to bring down the poverty alleviation policy.
Indeed, the NDC operatives unblushingly sponsored countless adverts and campaigned against the poverty reduction Free SHS policy during the 2016 electioneering campaign.
So, it came as a huge surprise to some of us when the 2020 NDC flagbearer, John Dramani Mahama and his teeming supporters are doing everything possible to claim ownership of the Free SHS policy. How ironic?
In fact, it would only take a doubting Thomas to challenge the fact that the NDC faithful, who take pride in the social democratic ideology, are not in the business of promoting the welfare of the masses.
One would have thought that individuals who pride themselves as social democrats will be extremely empathetic to the needs of the masses, but this is not the case with the NDC as a party.
There is no denying or ignoring the fact that the 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, the Maternal Care, the School Feeding programme, the Mass Transport System, amongst others.
Given the circumstances, it will not come as a surprise at all, if the future NDC government decides to cancel the Free SHS altogether.
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.
It is, therefore, fair to stress that the NDC faithful do not fancy the ‘Comprehensively Free SHS, and hence moving heaven and earth to the discredit the expedient poverty alleviation policy implementation.
In fact, the opposition NDC operatives attitude towards the Free SHS implementation should be a wake-up call to discerning Ghanaians.
Sometimes, one cannot help but to admire some of our politicians for their incredible dexterity in systematic propagation of propaganda.
Let us admit though, the never ending display of hypocrisy by the NDC loyalists is mind-boggling.
What is more pleasing to some of us is that, the social mobility improvement Free SHS policy will at least provide a sound and congenial environment for the students to develop to their full potential and to have a reasonable chance of leading productive and creative lives.
However, we cannot vouch for the sustainability of the free SHS policy, should Ghanaians make a terrible mistake and hand over the poverty alleviation free SHS programme back to the NDC in the near future.
Our fears stem from the fact that since the implementation of the free SHS policy by the NPP government, the minority NDC operatives have gathered momentum and called uncountable press conferences with the view to discrediting the policy’s implementation.
Somehow, the minority NDC operatives prefer “progressively free” (whatever that means) to NPP’s comprehensively free.
In fact, unless I come across as the worst performer in mathematics, I cannot fathom how and why the NDC’s GH48 per student is better than the NPP’s GH1844.27 per student.
Whatever the case, some of us cannot accept the minority NDC operatives somewhat sophistic argument that by sponsoring some students through their progressive SHS amounted to the introduction of Free SHS.
Well, they may choose to discredit the Free SHS policy, but the fact remains that the policy will return huge benefits in the long run.
Frankly stating, the vast majority of Ghanaians will benefit immensely from the policy, including my maternal uncle, Oliver, a diehard NDC supporter, who had earlier criticised the poverty alleviation Free SHS.
But despite my uncle Oliver’s needless and never ending pessimism, he is likely to reap tremendous benefits, and will most likely decline to endorse Mahama to cancel such an advantageous policy.
Apparently, credible sources have it that the government will spend a staggering amount of GH5532.83 over a period of three years on each student.
So, my uncle Oliver, who has three of his children in SHS, will be pocketing not less than GH16598.49 over three years.
Who can then persuade my maternal uncle to turn down such a juicy offer and vote for the unrepentant critic of the Free SHS who is set to abandon the policy?
It is quite unfortunate to witness how some Ghanaians could easily give in to the manipulating politicians vague rhetoric and vile propaganda designed to advance their vested interests.
My maternal uncle, as a matter of fact, was amongst the millions of impoverished Ghanaians who were brainwashed by the cunning and manipulating politicians to reject the poverty intervention Free SHS offer during the 2016 electioneering campaign.
Let us face it though, if everyone else’s had voted the same way as Uncle Oliver did, I am not sure his three children would have benefited from any free SHS.
I, for one, do not anticipate Uncle Oliver and the likes benefiting from the Free SHS policy should Ghanaians make a terrible mistake and hand over the poverty alleviation Free SHS policy back to the NDC government in the near future.
Clearly, former President Mahama and his brassbound supporters are trying desperately to claim ownership of the poverty alleviation Free SHS, albeit, to the utter disgust of the well-meaning Ghanaians.
K. Badu, UK.