There are various saying about poverty. In the view of Aristotle: “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” According to Mahatma Gandhi, “poverty is the worst form of violence.” Chinese thinker, Confucius opined that “in a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed wealth is something to be ashamed of.” “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exists in our world, none of us can truly rest” (Nelson Mandela). Inasmuch as we must make frantic effort to support brilliant but the needy, it is not a crime to be a child of a hardworking Ghanaian. The nation cannot afford to also discriminate against the children of her illustrious sons and daughters.
Ever since, the Auditor-General’s report indicted some legislators for receiving Ghana Education Trust Fund [GETFUND] scholarship meant for brilliant but needy, the Education Minister, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh and Procurement Minister, Sarah Adwoa Safo have been subjected to howls of indignation. The conversation of the GETFUND began in the late 1990s, when series of demonstrations were organized by the University students to resist the then Academic facility user fees. The boomerang effect of the afore-cited student resistance to the above-mentioned academic fees, was the birth of the GETFUND. The then minister of Education Mr. Ekow Spio-Garbrah was a political character definitive to the establishment of GETFUND, amidst severe backlash.
Every perspicacious Ghanaian will agree to my opinion that some individuals receive providence benefaction to be endowed with riches, whereas others become successful by the dint of hard work. Political system can easily make some citizens successful over others. Ghana is an example of neo-patrimonial governance. Neo-patrimonialism implies a system of government in which legal state apparatus co-exists and is supported by an informal patrimonial system of ruling. Under the aforesaid political system, the government is seen as a transfer mechanism in which the government collects resources and shares them with its supporters. One salient feature of neo-patrimonialism is resource inequality. Due to political inequality, state has a responsibility to cater for the downtrodden, needy and the poor. Besides, under neo-patrimony, political programs and policies are destined to favor other people. Some people are needy because nature made them so. Others become needy because of unemployment while some are needy because they don’t want to work. Be that as it may, our attempt to assist brilliant but the needy does not mean others who fall outside the bracket of the needy do not need help.
It is not a fault of Sarah Adwoa Safo to be a daughter of hardworking Apostle Kwadwo Safo. Apostle Kwadwo Safo did not receive political assistance to be where he is today! This is a benevolent man who has been a blessing to the whole nation. In recent times, apostle Safo’s company donated some vehicles to Ghana Police Service. Apostle Safo is known to be a great farmer and a church founder. The joy of many orphans knew no bounds, thanks to Apostle Safo’s magnanimity. The founder of the Christ reformed church sponsored his daughter Adwoa Safo to study, LLM at George Washington University, USA. Today, she is serving Ghana but not her father.
Is it a big sacred cow if Adwoa receives about $17,000.00 for capacity building at Harvard Kennedy School? Just as it is not a crime to be brilliant but needy, one does not cease to be a Ghanaian at the outset of the parent becoming hardworking. Continue education and capacity building is an inseparable component of organizational or institutional growth? Many private organizations sponsor their employees to broaden their horizons of thinking. It could be very possible that most so-called needy beneficiaries of GETFUND scholarship did not return to Ghana.
This writer believes we must begin to think of a non-partisan management of GETFUND scholarship and the scholarship secretariat as a whole. When politicians are given opportunity to manage scholarships, we must bear in mind that the thoroughgoing issue of scholarship scandal will not end soon. No one in his right frame of mind will spit out a juicy morsel, that good fortune placed in his mouth [Chinua Achebe]. If we really need to fight corruption canker, then there is nothing wrong for the state to sponsor its leaders. GETFUND was a brainchild of one minister not by brilliant but needy Ghanaian. Can’t we help our leaders to be more innovative and solve problems?
By Nana Yaw Osei, Minnesota, USA. [email protected]