I remember the well-coordinated worldwide campaign against bauxite mining in the Atiwa forest of Ghana’s Eastern Region. I remember the fight to insulate the Auditor General from Presidential manipulation. You can’t have forgotten how Ghana was saved from Agyapa.
These were battles initiated and sustained by Ghana’s civil society and were proof of my assertion that democracy is rule by civil society, the media and the Legislature. But for the shameful conduct of the Legislature, some of the time, this assertion would be a truism.
Ghana has some of the toughest civil society groups anywhere. Well educated, passionate advocates and scrupulously independent (of course, there is a Mensa in every human dwelling), their strident voices can overturn just about any anti-people policy when they honestly set their minds to it.
So who could hear the voices of Occupy Ghana, Imani Africa, CDD and IDEG, among the many others, when the Government of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo wasted US$3.2 million of money we didn’t have, to import 853,009 units of Kapek scientific mathematical instruments ostensibly for 2020 WASSCE candidates?
This was one crucial moment in the practice of democracy in Ghana when leadership and vision mattered most and yet the Legislature was shamelessly in bed with the Executive, both of them stark naked.
At a unit cost of GHc75.00, the total cost of the maths sets came to GHc63,975,675.00. In addition, Parliament granted the importer a tax waiver, exempting him from import duty, National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) GETFund levy, Value Added Tax (VAT) and EXIM levy.
All to what end? In seeking approval from Parliament, the Minister of Education said that it was to prevent students from sending their own mathematical sets into WAEC exam hall, by which means they entered examination centres with foreign materials and unauthorised gadgets.
Were we under a spell? How else could the over 17 million intelligent people of Ghana have allowed ourselves to be hoodwinked by the following justification by Government?
Hear the Ministry of Education. Its Deputy Minister, with notes approved by the substantive Minister, told Parliament that the WAEC mathematical sets would “improve rating of certificates issued by the examining body and boost confidence in Ghana’s educational system, among others”.
O my God! How did we allow this economic rape to take place!
My question to President Akufo Addo is: what shall we import to prevent the now prevalent practice of students scribbling “appor” on their thighs and exposing them in the exam hall? Buy them imported jeans?
How do we prevent parents from levying themselves to raise money to influence “difficult” exam invigilators? Anything we can to import?
Meanwhile, government had convinced Parliament that the situation was so dire that the contract for importing the maths sets had to be sole sourced because they had to arrive early enough to enable students to get acquainted with the devices and use them in the 2020 WASSCE.
Yet, fellow taxpayers of Ghana, with all the rush, the maths set and calculators did not arrive on time to be used in the examinations in 2020.
Did we have to import maths set when there were, and are, Ghanaian companies that manufacture maths sets? O, please, cut out the tired excuse that Ghanaian companies do not have what it takes.
Back in the late 1950s, when everybody was saying that Ghana didn’t have what it took to build a hydro electric dam, my information is that Akosombo Dam was built without a single white man.
At the time when everybody was saying Africa didn’t have what it took to start a medical school, Kwame Nkrumah started one and put a Ghanaian in charge.
I am told that Dr Easmon trembled at the very impossibility of the thought that an African could head a Medical School. He put forward the name of a top British Professor of Medicine, but Kwame Nkrumah put an arm around his shoulder, looked into his eyes and said: “Dr Easmon, I have confidence in you”
I cite the founding of Ghana’s Medical School to point out the differences in leadership.
What do we find now? Parliament imports chairs from China. In 1961, Kwame Nkrumah gave a gift of a State Chair, carved in Ghana, to the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago for use by their Speaker. Successive Speakers of Parliament of that country have sat on that chair since then. The current Speaker of Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago still uses it.
Mathematical set in plastic covering. What we are being told is that they are such a rocket science 21st century invention that we have to import it!
I suggest that the President, the Minister of Education and all Members of Parliament should be surcharged with the cost of importation. What a shame, were it not so pitiful.
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