On Monday, I saw a clear shift from the political journey that was embarked on for years which has proven unprofitable and unproductive to the challenges of the Ghanaian people. A political system which had praised political jabs over deliverables. A political system which fed largely on soundbites and slogans other than the key and core issues that confront the people of Ghana.
We saw for the first time, political statements delivered which were focused on the needful, which focused on the issues that threaten our very existence. Statements that are incontrovertible and factual. Statements that are seen to be sincere and thought-provoking. Statements that provide a clear understanding of the path we seek to pursue as a people (click to read full statement noa-maiden-speech-final.docx)
Before her maiden public speech since her selection, the Flagbearer and Leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), H.E. John Dramani Mahama had had to address the gathering and the people of Ghana. He was clear in his mind whom he chose and why he made that choice. He used the opportunity to extol the virtues and achievements of the Professor, Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang. He endorsed her contributions to his government as Minister of Education. The educational sector of the Mahama administration of 2012 to 2016, is one of the sectors that can boast of massive developments.
The sector saw for the first time, a government intervention that was aimed at building over 50% of Senior High Schools that existed since the inception of our 1st Republic. As a result of that pursuit, an initial plan to provide 200 Senior High Schools across the country, designed and built afresh, was in force. This led to the commencement of 123 of such projects across the country with about 50 completed before the Mahama administration exited power on January 7th 2017.
The numerous interventions in the areas of classroom blocks, dormitories, dining halls, among others, in existing schools across the country, is evident. Under her term as Minister of Education, she oversaw the conversion of most of our Polytechnics into Technical Universities. She also oversaw the conversion of teacher training colleges or colleges of education into diploma awarding institutions which automatically improves on placement and salaries.
She also spearheaded over the abolishing of the quota system in our colleges of education and nursing training institutions. This particular policy came with its political disadvantage. However, it is important to note that the implementation of that policy increased enrolment at Teacher Training Institutions from 9,000 to 15,400 in its first year. While it can be argued that the intervention affected a category of students, it is also important to stress that it resulted in some 6,400 additional teacher trainees having the opportunity to realize their dreams.
Today, while political capital was made out of that decision, it must be stated that even though the allowances were announced to have been restored with their attendant arrears, the quota system has been restored painfully. This means that instead of schools admitting to full capacity, they admit only those government is able to pay allowances. This comes with its resultant corruption as heads of institutions may be tempted to make demands before admitting desperate students who would be paid allowances after all.
To her record, many administration blocks as well as educational offices have been built across the country. I provide an attachment here for perusal of her records in infrastructure among other things, in the education sector (find document attached acheivement-in-images.pdf). An attempt to delve into the details, would prolong this otherwise short piece of work intended.
So her boss, the former President John Dramani Mahama, had a duty to project the choice he has made. He took the stage to provide information and to appeal to the conscience of the electorates. Particularly, he appealed to the women, those who make up majority of Ghana’s population, to see hope in her. He sends a signal of his commitment to provide empowerment to more women. He pledges a minimum of 30% appointments to women in his next administration.
While at that he took the platform to deal with issues of national interest that bothers on the handling of important issues by the current administration. He notes the handling of the financial sector on how a decision could have been made to save the sector at a cost of Ghc9 billion instead of a clean-up that cost the nation Ghc22 billion.
He also notes the spate of nepotism being witnessed where he believes state’s resources are in the hands of a clique. He believes the populating of state institutions with family members, does not build national cohesion. He also touched on how the nation is being divided with consistent and relentless efforts by the ruling government to determine who is and who is not a Ghanaian. He assures of a government that would hold Ghanaians together as one and would work for their common interest.
Former President John Mahama, assures the nation of slashing drastically, the current ministerial list from its current 125 by at least 40. He commits, that, the proceeds with regards the salaries and emoluments that would have been paid these appointees, would be channeled towards engaging and remunerating Assembly Members in the collection of data to feed into the National Births and Deaths registry.
In his presentation, you see the genuineness of a man who has learnt lessons from mistakes made in the past. His running mate, Professor Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, made the point that her engagements with her boss, reveals a renewed commitment towards righting the wrongs in the past. She assures the nation of her confidence in the man she is partnering into the 2020 elections.
In the delivery of the running mate Professor Naana Opoku-Agyemang, you see a woman who is warming up clearly into the political mood. You see a woman who knows her job is cut out for her. She knows she has a whole constituency of women she needs to appeal to. However, she is conscious of not drifting into the dirty political arena. She dealt with issues that revealed the wrongful handling of important matters of state. She touched on the unfortunate incidents that have greeted our electoral processes so far. The mere presence at registration centers for the purpose of registering to vote, had seen violent incidents recorded. As a mother, she expressed concerns and condemned those. She then took her audience to the North where she condemned the murder of a 90 year old accused of witchcraft. She believes old age should not be synonymous to witchcraft. Unfortunately, it’s only the poor old women who are vulnerable by virtue of their state, that suffer these ordeals.
She particularly, used herself to motivate women. She narrated her journey to the heights she has attained, and rallied support for her nomination and selection as a message of possibility for women. She sees her selection at that level, as a breakthrough for her fellow women.
She commands respect and has shown that command in her delivery. You see a woman who believes political office and campaign towards attaining that office, is to be based on how well the challenges of the suffering masses especially women, can be addressed. She notes the frustrations that the youth are subjected to when their dreams are on the verge of extinction. She showed a solid understanding of the challenges of the youth based on her several years of engaging them as Vice Chancellor, Minister and long before then.
You see a genuine candidate, who wasn’t interested in making headlines for merely scoring political points on the basis of attacks she is able to record in her speech. You see a speech that was well crafted and well delivered without the mention of her political opponents.
Her message could easily be associated to those it goes for. She believes using a platform offered her to concentrate on an opponent, automatically results in campaigning for the opponent. As those in media and communication would say, bad publicity, remains publicity. She was perfect in her choice of words and command over the language. Her professional acumen was brought to the fore with her interwoven skills in delivering a statement that had all the human, sentiments and seriousness required to reach her target audience.
The stage is thus set for the 2020 campaign leading to the elections of 7th December. It is important to be guided by the fact that it is not the speed of attacks, it is not the flowery speeches, it is not the slogans, neither is it insults that would serve the Ghanaian people with food on their tables. Rather, policies and interventions of government, would provide them that food.
I see in her, a humble intellectual who has defined a path of her political engagement leading to the elections. The National Democratic Congress (NDC), must take advantage of her credibility, sincerity and maturity and market her to the people of Ghana.
Whatever her records are, their general benefits are more relevant to the Ghanaian people than the few who are taking such opportunities thereby denying the many the opportunity of participating in the opportunities the state has to offer them.