By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Addressing the 8th Delegates’ Congress of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Saturday, Dec. 20, President John Dramani Mahama predicted a massive electoral victory in the 2016 presidential election. He predicated his victory on the purported fact of the NDC’s having always followed through with its campaign promises (See “Mahama: I’ll Win 2016 Elections” (Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 12/20/14). Among such promises is the ruling party’s publicly stated target of building some 200 community-based secondary schools by the end of December 2016.
I sincerely don’t know and think that Ghanaian voters are more interested in the mere erection of 200 school buildings, than the adequate supply of teachers and instructional materials for these schools. At the end of the day, the central issue bordering on the subject of Ghana’s public-educational system is one of quality rather than mere quantity. Mr. Mahama himself tangentially touched on this matter in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential Election, when his main political opponent and New Patriotic Party (NPP) leader Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo raised the imperative need of making secondary education in the country tuition-free, as a means of speeding up the intellectual and cultural development of the country.
Back then, as I vividly recall, the then-Transitional President Mahama emphasized a staggered and an administratively gradualist approach to the project. Earlier on, it is equally significant to note that Mr. Mahama had derided the Akufo-Addo proposal as one that the fragile economy of the country could ill-afford. To-date, the NDC has not unrolled any significantly innovative policy agenda in the area of health and sanitation, except the ad hoc and superficial street-cleaning exercises that the President was forced to launch in the wake of the massive outbreak of the cholera epidemic.
In other words, if Mr. Mahama is really serious about being afforded a second term by Ghanaian voters, he had better address the critical question of environmental hygiene. Going to school under trees may not necessarily be such a bad thing, if enough qualified teachers are also made available to our proverbial leaders of tomorrow, in order to equip them to remarkably improve on the quality of life bequeathed them by the preceding generations. The government also needs to revive the regime of the “Town Council” or “Tankase,” whereby well-trained community-health inspectors paid regular domestic visits to ensure that homes were kept clean as a signal preventive health measure.
The President also needs to study the Supreme Court’s 2012 Presidential Election Petition very critically, in order to equip himself with the requisite sobriety vis-a-vis the true results of that much-disputed electoral process. Nobody on the ground that I have spoken to, during the past several months, has offered any positive prognosis on the way and manner in which the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress is managing the affairs of the country.
The adamant refusal of the government to lower the prices of fuel and other allied petroleum products, to synch with the sharp fall in the price of crude oil on the global market, eerily points to the behavior of a wantonly wasteful regime that sees no other way out of the Stygian economic morass it has created, other than continue to blindly and recklessly cream or exploit the long-suffering Ghanaian taxpayer, as a means of maintaining the grossly profligate lifestyle of its key operatives and the latter’s equally gross administrative incompetence.
This is a very dangerous course of governance; and unless something is quickly done to stem it, the security and stability of the Mahama government over the long haul cannot be guaranteed. The preceding observation is, of course, based on the country’s recent history.