I am like a man once bitten by a snake; I am scared to death by the sight of a worm! Failed political promises have made a cynic out of me.

Of course, you cannot be in politics and not make a promise. Only a certain Jerry John Rawlings, in the days before the 1992 elections, promised that he would not make a promise. He forgot he had promised a Ghana without corruption. He broke it when he took money from Nigeria’s butcher of a President, General Sani Abacha.

Often, it may not be that the promise is not fulfilled but that its fulfilment leaves a lot to be desired. This happens when the citizens do not press the politicians for detailed and better particulars.

An example is the Free SHS promise. Free SHS has been useful to a large degree, making it possible for children from deprived homes to also taste education.

But at what costs? With schools admitting up to 1,000 freshers in some cases, hitherto elite schools, including Wesley Girls, have no sleeping place for students and are serving food unfit even for Ghanaian prisoners. All because we did not subject the promise to detailed questioning.

As promises dribble out of the mouths of politicians in the run-up to December 7, 2024, it occurs to me that Ghanaians have not demanded from NDC flagbearer, John Dramani Mahama, better particulars of what seems, so far, to be his key promise: a 24-hour economy. How will it work in practice? In a country where armed robbery has forced shops to close by 10 pm, how do we ensure 24-hour shopping? With a population as thin as ours, who will consume what we may end up over-producing working around the clock?   

Reminds me of NPP’s “Free Nursing Training Allowance…Free Teacher Training Allowance” mantra in the NPP chain of promises. I recall the scene at NPP’s last mammoth rally at the International Trade Fair Centre: Bawumia turned the promise into a call-and-response musical masterpiece.

I was sceptical not only because I feared that the economy was too fragile for freebies, but the very thought of paying anybody in the 21st century to train as a nurse or a teacher was (and is) economically unwise. In the heat of the 2016 electioneering, this promise was very juicy: teachers and nursing trainees were as numerous as the sand on the seashore. Their votes were critical to success in the Presidential election.

Today, teachers are demonstrating… nurses are demonstrating. Why? Three to four years after graduation, nurses and teachers who benefited from NPP’s “free nursing and teacher training allowances” can either not be posted (because schools and hospitals have not received financial clearance from the Ministry of Finance) or have been unpaid for nine months into their National Service.

I criticized this policy in 2017 and have repeated it thrice. It doesn’t make economic sense. In the immediate post-independence years up through the 1980s, we had to entice people just out of secondary school to want to be teachers and nurses.

Not today. People are paying hefty sums as bribes to be considered for admission into colleges of education and nursing training schools. And yet we pay them allowances!

Is it for these allowances that we need an IMF bail-out?

Now, to Manasseh Azure’s ‘Fourth Estate’ expose of goings on at the Scholarship Secretariat: people using their politically acquired positions to muscle out the poor and get their rich relations and concubines educated abroad. In pre-Fourth Republic Ghana, where people had a modicum of shame, what the paper has done would be called “naming and shaming”.

No longer.

Ghanaians have lost all sense of shame. Today, it’s all about money, in ugly quantities. We are in the era of highly educated thieves. They are not only educated; they appear in garb and composure of high respectability, not unlike how some Christians see the devil – a dark, hideous-looking monster with horns, roaring around with eyes blazing. For the African Christian, Jesus is a white man, forgetting that the image of Jesus we are familiar with was painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1494.

This 15th-century artist had never seen Jesus but he had been instructed to paint the Son of God in the skin colour of the man who had commissioned him to do the painting, namely Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, a white man.

Shout “thief” and the average Ghanaian is looking for a man with dishevelled or rasta hair and a pair of jeans tattered or shredded at the knee. No one looks for the man in the suit!

That is why it has been difficult nailing the real enemies of our economy, the plunderers emptying our coffers.

We can be sure of one thing. In six months, if Manasseh’s reporters return to the beat, the story will be no different: scholarships would still be for the relatives and concubines of party financiers.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.