President Akufo-Addo at the weekend went down heavily on his main political opponent, ex-President John Dramani Mahama, asserting that the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer cannot be trusted with the Free Senior High School (SHS) programme, as his credibility on the policy is zero.
According to him, Ghanaians have no reason to believe the NDC presidential candidate's newly proclaimed confession on Free SHS and Free Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET), indicating that Mr. Mahama has shown an inconsistent position on the policy.
“For eight years, he and his party were loud in their assertions that they did not believe in Free SHS and Free TVET. They did not like the idea and rubbished it at every opportunity, and they proclaimed it would destroy Ghana's educational system,” the President fired, adding “I doubt ex-President Mahama can recognize a well-managed economy even if it slaps him in his face.”
Speaking at the launch of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) manifesto in Cape Coast in the Central Region, President Akufo-Addo indicated that when Mr. Mahama and the NDC were in office they had a hard time trying to run even their “water-down version of their so-called progressively Free SHS education.”
“Then the former President said he would review it and now we hear him say it has come to stay. Your Excellency, please try another one. Your credibility on this one is zero. Free SHS and Free TVET cannot be trusted in your hands,” he jabbed and added that the NDC leader's review of Free SHS also meant cancellation.
“It must be said in the same way that we would not risk putting agriculture under the NDC and its leader. They will once again leave the farmers on their own without the support that is happening to make farming a profitable and fulfilling business as it should be,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo questioned why anyone should imagine that the NDC administration under the former President would treat businesses any differently from what they did the last time round.
He said the NPP government had succeeded in equitable distribution which, he indicated, meant that all parts of the country had been touched by its policies that had been delivered with value for money.
“I take pride in the fact that the Free SHS and Free TVET have been delivered and our young people, parents and guardians no longer are forced to stop school at JHS level because of financial difficulties.
“It was not easily done and so we intend to protect it and prevent any so-called review – another word for cancellation,” he stressed.
He pointed out that in spite of the unexpected and dramatic entry of Covid-19 into the lives of Ghanaians and the subsequent worldwide devastation, his government could demonstrate that it has set the economy on a strong foundation and that businesses will flourish.
“The virus has slowed us down, but it has not diverted us from the path of growth we have put the country on,” he indicated.
Not Taking Lead
President Akufo-Addo, who is also seeking a second term, asserted that it was interesting to note that the NDC in opposition is not able to take the lead to do some of the things that are most often done first by parties in opposition.
“You might remember how it took the NDC presidential candidate to find a running mate and they have not yet got a manifesto.
“I wonder what would happen the day they have a government to run as well. Or maybe, it is simply showing the country that they do not attach importance to a manifesto, or should we expect them whatever is written in it will reflect their belief,” he stated.
“We in the NPP know from where we came. We have never had any identity crisis and our manifesto always gives us an opportunity to reiterate our historic stance as the party of the rule of law. The party of good governance, the party of business, the party that builds and creates wealth, the party of social justice and the party that cares for every Ghanaian,” he pointed out.
He explained, “In other words, it helps to believe in something to spend time and energy to think through and to get passionate and competent people to lead in the implementation of the programme.”
According to the President, on the day of his acclamation as a presidential candidate of the NPP, he said the there was a clear choice before the nation, as he and the NDC flagbearer, who are the two main candidates in the 2020 polls, could be adjudged on a similar basis.
He said Ghanaians could decide who between the two had done a better job of governing the country as president, asserting that he knows the NDC flagbearer believes himself often that Ghanaians have short memories and holds strongly to such belief.
“Otherwise, I doubt he would have summoned the courage to be seeking another term after the disaster that was his presidency. Ghanaians might have short memories but not short enough for us to have forgotten the broken down freezers, irons and other household equipment; thanks to the five years of dumsor.
“Our memories are not short enough to forget that the economy under him was such a wreck and that there was a ban placed on all recruitment into our public service. Our memories are not short enough to forget that teachers toiled for three years and were only paid for three months. Our memories are certainly not short enough to forget that he brought our entire financial services system to a near collapse,” the President fired.
He disclosed that he had heard Mr. Mahama make extraordinary claims that Ghana's economy was in tatters not because of the Covid-19 pandemic but because of mismanagement.
“I doubt he can recognize a well-managed economy even if it slaps him in the face. Luckily for us, we do not have to rely on his judgement or assessment of the economy, but it is important to tell him, just in case there are others like him around, that Ghana is today in a position to be able to provide one hot meal for JHS Three students who are back in school in the midst of the pandemic,” he said.
According to the President, the country is again in a position to pay for six months water bills for all Ghanaians and to subsidize electricity for all Ghanaians for three months.
“Indeed, we thank the Almighty that the pandemic did not strike under his presidency when there was no money in the national kitty to pay teacher and nurses' allowances. We are very much aware of the realities of the time. We know how the Covid-19 has wrecked our economies and livelihoods,” he noted.
He entreated members of the NPP to keep this sensibility in their minds in all they do when they are about campaigning for votes, adding that adherence to the Covid-19 protocols means they cannot resort to the traditional methods of campaigning and urged all of Ghanaians to continuously strictly obey the rules.
“We cannot have the traditional crowds and rallies, and whenever there are gatherings we have to observe the social distancing rules,” he added.
NPP Policies Lack Sense
President Akufo-Addo said it had been said by the NDC presidential candidate that NPP policies lack sense and stated that if running and advancing Ghana's economy into the hands of IMF because of the indiscipline in the management of the public finances is the sense Mr. Mahama talks about then he was happy the NPP had another concept of sense.
“If having sense means cancelling teacher trainees and nurses' allowances, then I'm happy the NPP has another concept of sense. If having sense means recording the worse economic management statistics of modern times with the lowest rate of growth of the past 30 years, I am happy the NPP has another concept of sense,” he pointed out.
Having sense in the NPP means we have been able to take the economy growing at 3.4 per cent to an economy that grew, on the average for three successive years, at least 7 per cent per year before the pandemic and was rightly acknowledged as one of the best performing economies not just in Africa, but also in the world.
He explained that having sense in the NPP meant executing the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs which has led to the revival of the Ghanaian agriculture from the doldrums of the NDC years, bringing in its wake the bumper harvest and affordable food prices in our markets and export of significant quantity stuff to our neighbours.
“Having sense in the NPP means implementing policy, which, according to the latest Ghana's Living Standard Survey, has resulted in the declining unemployment rate from 11.9 per cent in 2015 to 7.3 per cent in 2019. I am happy with and prefer the NPP sense,” he added.