Dr. Mathew OPoku Prempeh’s Politics and the Death of KABA

Prof Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang was an “embarrassment” and a “disgrace” as Minister of Education in the John Mahama administration.

“Her four-year tenure under John Mahama was an embarrassment,” that was Dr Opoku Prempeh on Asempa FM’s Ekosi Sen political talk show on Tuesday, 14 November.

Last Saturday, the media fraternity and indeed the whole country, lost one of the special breed of talk show host and a shining lights of our generation.

Kwadwo Asare Baffuor Acheampong, also known as KABA, who is recognized as one of the country’s finest and principled journalist, and rose above partisan politics in his dealings with his guests and listeners, went the way of all mortals.

My saddest moment of his untimely passing, is anytime I remember him, it brings to mind one of the last interviews he had.

How sad to remember such a gem and a gentle soul, by remembering the sadistic voice of Dr. Mathew OPoku Prempeh, the Education Minister, whose vituperations on Tuesday November 14, as a studio guest, continues to linger in my mind, for as long as I remember KABA.

As a medical doctor, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, is very much aware that, no procedure is 100 percent guaranteed, there are always margins of error, which is why before an operation is done, sometimes views and opinions of other practitioners are taking before the right procedure is decided upon, it tells you, no human being is infallible.

Every government, for as long as this country continues to exist, will inherit both asset and liabilities from its predecessor. Even the worst government, we have had since Independence, could be commended for having done one or two things right. We have a saying in our local parlance that, if you don’t have anything for your in-law, you don’t accuse him or her of theft.

Dr. Mathew OPoku Prempeh, failed to credit his predecessor for anything, yet he found the presence of mind to throw tantrums at her, as if someone, who has personal scores to settle.

Prof Jane Naana Opoku Agyeman deserves ovation, not opprobrium, for running the ministry free of controversy. We did not see many strikes by various teacher unions under her tenure, already we are hearing of threat of strikes by various unions and to think Mathew Opoku Prempeh is less than a year in office.

As if calling her an embarrassment was not enough, he went ahead to expose his inadequacies to  adduce evidence to back his damning verdict on the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Dr Opoku Prempeh said Prof Opoku-Agyemang as Minister left the education sector burdened with the following debts per the Mahama administration’s own handing over notes:

Feeding Grants for Colleges of Education – GHS36 million

Feeding Grants for Special Schools – GHS4.7 million

SHS Subsidy – GHS24 million

Progressively Free Senior High School debt – GHS33 million

Capitation Grant, GHS8 million

GETFund debt – GHS3.7 billion

“She doesn’t understand education”, Dr Opoku Prempeh insisted.

If it is about debt, every government had inherited debt since Independence, by Dr. Mathew OPoku Prempeh’s logic, his predecessor, was to pay the money from her pocket. I am waiting for the day; teachers will declare strike over unpaid salary arrears, I will expect nothing less from Mathew OPoku Prempeh, than to pay them from his personal money.

He claimed to have inherited huge debt, I am sure when a proper audit is done at the Ministry today, it will come to light that, he has also added to the debt.

As a minister, you should know that, you do not work alone, you are not a superman to be everywhere at everytime and can’t always have your hand on the pulse of the ministry. As it is said, when you want something done, do it yourself, but you cannot run a ministry and be able to do everything. So it was an unwarranted attack the minister launched on his predecessor, who run the ministry, without the associated problems, we have witnessed in the past.

The latest blow amid others since this government was birthed in January, only goes to deepen the political divisions that is preventing us from making any meaningful progress.

The teachers unions are already up in arms, the National President of Conference of Heads of Assisted Secondary School (CHASS), Mrs. Cecilia Kwakye Coffie, is asking the government as a matter of urgency release subsidies which have been in arrears for three terms to the schools. She said the schools risked being closed down prematurely if the absorbed fees by the government do not reach the schools immediately.

She said this over the weekend at the 68th speech and prize-giving day of Winneba Secondary School.

On November 19, Coalition of Newly Recruited Graduate Teachers also issued a statement, notifying the government of withdrawal of service, by the end of December 2017, over the non-payment of salary arrears.

I am bringing all these up for the minister to appreciate the fact that, even though Prof. Jane, will have wished not to leave any debt behind, it was beyond her control. Until the ministry of Finance, releases funds to the ministry of education, there is nothing a single minister, will do, except he wanted her to have performed magic.

When the list of the elephant sized government came out, a friend called me and asked me, who I thought among the list, was a square peg in a round hole, I did not hesitate to mention Mathew OPoku Prempeh, fortunately that was his pick and true to our expectation, he has not disappointed.

Part of our drawback as a nation, unfortunately, is the fact that Ghana has been plagued with poor leadership over time, whose education or lack of it cannot develop or move the country forward.  We have so many educated illiterates managing our education, and we expect our students to be the best.

Mathew OPoku Prempeh is too bereaved of common sense to be aware that, they are so many institutions working under the ministry, with defined roles and the minister cannot be seen to be interfering in the day to day running of those institutions.

The Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFUND), have been in arrears in the past and will be in arrears in the future. The situation is even going to get worse with the introduction of Free Senior High School (SHS) education.

The minister is embarking on a suicide mission that will come back to haunt him.

 

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