Free SHS Continues, Unabated. What Is The NDC Saying Again?

“There is one thing stronger than all the  armies of the world and that is an idea whose time has come” – Victor Hugo


Immediately after Ghana attained independence from British rule, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah introduced Free Education in the Northern and Upper Regions. Ghanaians living in the southern part of the country did not pay any attention to the programme neither did they criticize it. After all, how much was the school fees for them to complain for their share of that part of national cake? The land was fertile, the cocoa industry was booming, gold, timber,  manganese, bauxite and other natural resources were in abundance down south and development projects like roads, bridges, school block, hospitals, clinics etc were going on across the country. It was the days of ‘Work and happiness”.

As time went on, the Osagyefo added Teachers Bungalows and free feeding as well as free secondhand clothing for the pupils up there in the north where biting poverty and ignorance had pitched  camp among the people.  Teachers from the south who could not speak the languages of the people in the two regions were posted there. Those were challenging times but in no time people came to realize the importance of the project since the pupils became very good in spoken English Language and their teachers too were able to peak their local languages. Many years after the overthrow of Nkrumah, we had some of the pupils who enjoyed free education in the Northern and Upper Regions becoming Presidents, like Dr. Hilla Liman and John Dramani Mahama  and Vice Presidents like Alhaji Aliu Mahama. Those who entered the military became Generals and top military officers and those who entered the Ghana Police Service became IGPs and top police officers. Some professors and medical doctors of the utmost fame from these two regions also enjoyed the Kwame Nkrumah free education. As for the Civil Service, the northerners almost hijacked the place even up to today.

My cherished readers, let me confess for the first time that when Candidate Akufo-Addo mooted the idea of Free SHS and some of us picked up the gauntlet to campaign, I was skeptical at the back of my mind.  As at the time Dr. Nkrumah introduced the free education in only two of the then nine regions in Ghana, the population of the country was barely six million people. But as at the time Nana mooted the idea of free SHS across the whole country, the population was barely 25 million. I wondered how the idea could be possible, considering the fact that Mr. Mahama had told Ghanaians that they had eaten all the meat, leaving only the bones.  Our faith in the project was based on the fact that the Holy Book has admonished us that faith can move mountains.

The Akans say if a blind man tells you that he would throw a stone at you, his leg may be stepping on a stone.  Similarly, Mr. Agyekum Kufuor in the run-up to the 2000 General Election, promised Ghanaians that when voted into power he would abolish the Cash and Carry killer Health Delivery System which had been in existence for nearly two decades under Mr. Rawlings and his (P)NDC. He did not tell us how he was going to replace it. Immediately he held the reins of power, he introduced the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) which saved and continues to save precious lives. Nana Addo and Mr. Kufuor refused to put their cards on the table because they are smart politicians. Their aces were firmly hidden in their pockets as they went about campaigning.

Since we started the 4th Republican journey, a campaign promise that has been bastardized and thrown to the dogs is the Free SHS.

Several songs were composed by the NDC to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians and their apparatchiks turned candidate Akufo-Addo to a laughing stock for mooting that idea which they said was impossible because even Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah could not introduce free education in the whole country.

Some said Free SHS would be possible only after 20 years and Mr. ‘Big Mouth’, Okudjeto Ablakwa promised Ghanaians that the scheme will collapse within five years of its implementation because the government will not get money to finance it. Today, I wonder if the children of North Tongu, his constituency are also still enjoying the Free SHS.

They even questioned where the government was going to get money to execute the project since the nation was in debt. In fact, foolishly, they did not know that a man’s best weapon is his secret. Which warrior will tell his enemy the number of bullets he has in his bag when they are at the battle front?

Eight months after coming to power, on Tuesday, 12th September 2017 to be precise, President Nana Oseadeyo Addo Dankwa  Akufo-Addo, launched the Free SHS.  Six years down the line the Free SHS continues, unabated. As at the time I was writing this piece, the hottest commodities on sale at the markets are, student foam mattresses, trunks, chop boxes, provisions, bed sheets, pillows, buckets etc.  Parents all over the country are falling heads over heels to find placements for their wards. Nobody will like to leave his or her ward behind. But for Free SHS, thousands of JHS graduates would have been roaming the streets because parents could not afford to pay high school fees.

Anytime the issue of Free SHS comes up for discussion, my mind takes me back to how Mr. Mahama teasingly referred to the  Double Track which was meant to ease the congestion as far as the huge intake of students was concerned as Traffic Light system of education. His equally ignorant and gullible supporters clapped for him for making that infantile and uninformed statement. Today, many schools which used to practice the Double Track have stopped because classroom blocks, dormitories, dining halls and other facilities have been built.

And Mr. Mahama says if Ghanaians vote for him to become the President of Ghana again he will ‘review’ the Free SHS?. Where ‘review’ means what? Why did he not give an alternative when Nana was using the idea to campaign six years ago?.

The truth is that if parents do the mistake and vote for Mahama and the NDC for that matter to come back to power again, they will surely jettison the programme into the Siberian Sea for the sharks to swallow, with the excuse that the country has no money to continue educating children free.  As for President Akufo-Addo, Free SHS will continue to be his indelible legacy which will fall along Ghana’s greenest hills long after he is gone.

And did I hear Mr. Mahama telling Ghanaians at the launch of his campaign in the Volta Region that he will scrap the Ex-Gratia when he comes back to power again?

This man is trying to play smart but sadly, he is not clever enough. He still harbors the funny believe that Ghanaians are shortsighted. After collecting Ex-Gratia as MP for twelve years, Vice President for four years and President for another four years, the man is now telling Ghanaians that he will scrap what he has been collecting for all these years when he gets the opportunity again.

Some ‘evil’ spirit is haunting the man so the NDC should hire him an exorcist. He is talking ‘by heart’. The man is simply desperate for power and will say anything to convince voters. He thinks we are as gullible as those who unceasingly clapped for him at that meeting. We no bi fools ooh, Mr. Gonjaman!!!.

By Eric Bawah