In FOUR DAYS, the world and mostly the super powers and donors will have their eyes fixated on what will be termed as the defining moment in the history of the first country on the African continent that drove out its white masters who brought civilization to them in the quest to have self-rule and progressive development, as a former president, John Mahama and the incumbent president, Nana Akufo-Addo go head-to-head in the forthcoming election.
Ghana, is poised to have a peaceful election that will transit into the eighth government and parliament of the fourth republic. But elections as it is, has not even spared the very powerful country; the United States of America, the dreadful hands of accusation of fraud, undue interference and violence.
Across the breadth and length of this country, it is obvious that there is a guaranteed peace either before or during the elections not barring the fact that, even the joint force of security services has identified numerous centres likely to brew some skirmishes.
But with only few days left for political parties to distinguish themselves by explaining the content of their manifestoes, it has rather turned into an arsenal of freebies, not sparing the main opposition party who “looks desperate” to crawl back power or the governing party; who with all the proper mechanisations, plays in the same field as their opponent but with the character of optimism.
Thanks to the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ghanaians wouldn’t have known that the government of the day has the financial muscle to cater for the complete secondary education (SHS) of its teeming future leaders and builders, a situation that has opened the floodgates for more free social interventions to be announced daily, as the clock tick tock to December 7.
However, I as an individual thinks the country may be heading into an abyss if all that politicians and leaders could offer their followers and subordinates is free this and free that? Let us remember; “NOTHING IS FREE! It is either your tax that is used to offset all the bills accompanying the freebies or a loan is secured to get these interventions on their paddle”.
If I choose to say, I prefer empowerment, one would ask, “Won’t Free education empower me?” The answer is in the words of one of our very owned revered journalists, Francis Abban who says, “Education without enforcement is an entertainment”. I prefer to have the means to make the choices that will better me than to be made to go for the choices that one feels suits me.
It is of note that during 2017, when the best policy in our Second Cycle education was introduced, the government kicked against private educational institutions benefitting from the scheme, but with few days to election, the same government feels it is prudent to have private tertiary institutions benefit from a scheme that will see the pioneers of the Free SHS policy attain tertiary education.
But what does one expect the government to do? Sit aloof and watch the National Democratic Congress (NDC) ‘snatch the cow and milk it’ with its “KYEMUPE” and “FA NINYINAA” tertiary policy? The onus now lies on us to be discerning enough in making the right choice. For those questioning the motive behind the revision of the NDC’s manifesto, I think it is right to make adjustment to life especially as our plans and projections are not cast in stone.
But these questions are begging to be asked:
Is there any solid policy in how the funds for these numerous free social intervention would be generated over a course of time or an exit of the government will lead to debts being piled up and the policies suffering their worst defeat? (Remember the popular NHIS debt bed-riddened allegations)
What freebies will be on the agenda come 2024? Will it free house, free car, free visa outside Ghana or Free Utility Bills? Or it will be free tertiary education in addition to free hostel and feeding since the current one is scholarship for tuition. Or should we be gearing up ourselves for free monthly allowances?
What immediate arrangements are there to offset these expenses should they be funded through loans and how quickly is the country set to get the beneficiaries of these interventions on their feet to generate more revenue so as not to accrued unnecessary debt for the future generations? Or what happens tomorrow isn’t our concern as long as we get what we feed on today?
Do our leaders have plans to equip, employ and utilize the skills of these graduates from the institutions that has trained or is training them?
The two main parties, going into this election display a sense of desperation though the governing NPP clothes their despondency with optimism as they do not promise free pension, free primary healthcare or free tertiary education but rather, using the agencies and offices to counter-augur the freebies promised by their opponents.
The freebies won’t get us where we belong. It is time to take a second look at our promises and the content of our manifestoes and desist from the quest of greed for power and political thievery.
Let us build a national development plan devoid of partisan affiliation, controlled by a dedicated fund and body who will be accountable to the citizens and not the president.
Let us develop policies that will see our foreign investors help develop various infrastructure in place of the tax waivers granted them.
Let us have the prudence to resist bribery and corruption, the sickening tool that has incapacitated our quest for development.
I wish all aspirants, the best of luck!
God Bless Ghana!
ERICH JOEY ODONKOR