Sammy Gyamfi is NDC's National Communications Officer

Good morning distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the media. We have the honour to welcome you once again to the headquarters of the great National Democratic Congress (NDC), for the 6th edition of our weekly press briefing.

On Monday, 6th July, 2020, the Flagbearer and Leader of the NDC, H.E. John Dramani Mahama made history when he, upon consultations with, and the unanimous approval of the Council of Elders and the National Executive Council of the party, announced Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as his Running Mate for the 2020 general elections.

President Mahama and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), through the appointment of Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as Running Mate, have demonstrated that we recognize the towering contribution of women to the development of this country and believe in their capacity to lead at the very top of our political leadership – the Presidency.

Indeed, this is a proud moment to be a member of the NDC, and for that matter a Ghanaian, as for the first time in our Fourth Republic, one of the two most dominant political traditions, has taken a bold step to shatter the glass ceiling and barrier to women involvement in the highest office of the land.

The appointment of Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, an astute Scholar, an achiever, a well-accomplished educationist and a dedicated public servant, is a well-deserved choice that has birthed a new paradigm in Ghana’s politics and provided a new sense of inspiration to the women of this country who have made several sacrifices for the development and progress of this country. Indeed, this decision is a victory for inclusive democracy and has further enhanced our democratic gains and credentials as a country.

Distinguished friends from the media, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang is a God-fearing leader who exudes profound humility, honesty, competence, decency and patriotism. She has unblemished integrity and can be trusted to restore the honour and dignity the office of Vice President has lost in the last 3 and half years, when elected.

The overwhelming acclaim her appointment as Running Mate to President Mahama has received all across the world in the last 48 hours, speaks volumes about the enviable niche she has carved for herself in both public and private life.

EXPOSING THE BLATANT FALSEHOODS OF THE NPP AGAINST PROFESSOR NAANA JANE OPOKU-AGYEMANG

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we have noted the desperate fabrications being peddled by the NPP about the sterling record of Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang as Minister for Education.

Barely after the big announcement was made, the NPP’s Director of Communications Mr. Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, who has become synonymous with panicky auto-pilot parody whenever the NDC addresses the nation on critical national issues, hurriedly put together a poorly assembled press conference in a vain attempt to denigrate the personality of the impeccable Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang.

Ordinarily, we would have ignored such blatant falsehood which offer no value or importance for the development of this country. But for the sake of the unsuspecting public, some of whom may not be aware of the facts, and given the fact that these untruths have become the chorus of NPP party communicators and apparatchiks, we would like to set the records straight as follows:

1. Firstly, the claim that Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang canceled Teacher Trainee Allowance is false. The decision to replace Teacher Trainee allowance with student loan was a cabinet decision and not a ministerial decision.

As you may be aware, the erstwhile Mahama government, to ensure equity and equality among tertiary students, converted allowances for teacher trainees into student loans in order to abolish the quota system of admissions into Colleges of Education and increase enrollment and teaching opportunities for the Youth of this country. As such, students who did not receive allowances got their loans. This was a decision President Mahama himself took responsibility for.

This policy which was not properly understood by many, was exploited by then candidate Akufo-Addo and the NPP for cheap political capital and electoral gain with the promise that they will fully restore same if elected.

The sad reality today is that, instead of the full restoration of the allowances as was promised by President Akufo-Addo and the NPP, teacher trainees are being served with a partial restoration of the allowances, which is being paid in a rather very erratic manner and for only 8 months, instead of 12 months, as was the case before the conversion. In fact, our checks this morning show, that the Akufo Addo government hasn’t paid any allowances to teacher trainees since February 2020.

To add insult to injury, the Akufo-Addo-government has increased the school fees of teacher trainees and introduced feeding fees which used to be free under the Mahama government.

Worst of it all, is the abolishment of the automatic employment of teachers and the introduction of a needless licensure exams and an obnoxious mandatory national service policy for teacher trainee graduates by the Akufo Addo-government. Currently, over 2000 Newly Qualified Trained Teachers who have have passed their licensure exams and undergone the one year mandatory national service are still home without employment.

Additionally, the non-performing Akufo-Addo-government has lowered enrollment into Colleges of Education, thereby constricting teaching opportunities for the youth. Sadly, infrastructural projects initiated in the then 38 public Colleges of Education have all stalled since since President Akufo-Addo assumed the reigns of power. These are the reasons why President John Dramani Mahama has promised to maintain the payment of allowances to teacher trainees and abolish the needless licensure exams and

mandatory national service policy for teacher trainee graduates, as well as restore the automatic employment of teacher trainee graduates when he is elected on 7th December 2020.

With Professor Naana as Vice President of the Republic, teacher trainees can trust that, the obnoxious Licensure Examination and nuisance National Service policy, which are convenient excuses for the Akufo-Addo-government’s unwillingness and inability to employ teachers, will be cancelled and more importantly, automatic recruitment of teacher trainee graduates restored.

2. Secondly, the claim that Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang introduced the three (3) months salary payment for newly recruited teachers is false. This policy was introduced by the Finance Ministry as part of GIFMIS reforms at the time, to check the phenomenon of pay roll fraud and ensure that newly recruited teachers, nurses and doctors were paid their their first three (3) months salary without any hindrance and subsequent salaries paid upon validation. The temporary challenges the policy suffered at the beginning of its implementation were resolved through the interventions of the Finance Ministry under the NDC-Mahama government.

3. Thirdly, the claim that Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang canceled Book and Research allowances for lecturers of tertiary institutions is yet another barefaced lie. Book and research allowance was never canceled under the NDC-Mahama administration when Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang was Minister of Education. As such, the NPP could not have restored something that was never taken away in the first place.

4. Concerning her plea for clemency for the Montie trio, she only signed the petition to mitigate the harsh sentences of the three (3) convicts, after they had served 6 weeks in prison and paid GHS10,000 each, as fines for scandalizing the Supreme Court.

Her decision to sign the petition to request for a reduced prison term for the convicts doesn’t in any way mean that she endorsed their unfortunate comments as the NPP would have us believe. It must be noted that the woman we are talking about is a responsible and caring mother of three and a loving grandmother. Good mothers are known to forgive their children when they go wrong, and after they are disciplined.

Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang did not only support the punishment of the “MONTIE TRIO” through due process, but she also identified with the repentance and remorse shown by the young men and sought lesser punishment for them. Her plea for lesser punishment for the “MONTIE TRIO” was therefore not a vice, but an act of compassion and a virtue.

It is worthy of note, that this was not the first time the country was witnessing such calls for lesser punishment for those who were found to have scandalized the court by their unguarded utterances. You may recall how lawyers from both NPP and NDC and several Ghanaians, pleaded for clemency for the NPP’s Sammy Awuku and the late Sir John, may his soul rest in perfect peace, when they were found to have scandalized the Supreme Court during the Election Petition case.

Are our friends in the NPP suggesting that, all those who pleaded with the Supreme Court for clemency for Sammy Awuku and Sir John when they were cited for contempt of court, endorse their reckless comments? That certainly cannot be the case.

Interestingly, our NPP friends who are criticizing this act of compassion, are the very people who have shielded from prosecution and punishment, their party thugs, the “Delta Forces”, who stormed the KMA magistrate court in broad daylight to attack a pregnant judge and free their colleagues who were in lawful custody. And that in itself says a lot about their character and credibility.

Prof. has lived a honorable life full of integrity and decency and has earned for herself an unsoiled and unassailable reputation globally. Anyone who knows her knows that she will never endorse comments that incite harm against anybody.

5. Again, the claim by the NPP that Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang failed to provide chalk to schools when she was Education Minister is false. This blatant untruth highlights how low the NPP will go in trying to denigrate our flagbearer’s choice of running mate. At a time when the state of education is such that our high school students are contracting Covid-19 due to the poorly thought-through decision of the NPP to send them back to school

when we were recording a steep spike in positive cases, we should not be talking about propaganda that revolves around chalk.

For the records, under the tenure of Prof Opoku-Agyemang as Education Minister, more than 5 million pieces of chalk, comprising 4,994,328 boxes of white chalk and 180,000 boxes of colored chalk were provided to schools across the country, including the district of the particular school where the said incident with the then Second Lady occurred.

Aside from this, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang demonstrated unwavering commitment to the supply of Teaching and Learning Materials during her tenure as Education Minister by providing 472,800 Teacher Textbooks, 12.8 million Core Textbooks, 2.5 million Dictionaries among others, which significantly enhanced the quality of the country’s educational system.

It is important to make the point, that at no time under her tenure as Education Minister did the country witness a situation where not a single textbook was supplied to school children, and examination questions written by teachers on black boards, like we witnessed under the inept Akufo-Addo- government last year. In fact, under her tenure as minister, the Mahama administration changed the textbook ratio from 4 students sharing one textbook to one student having three textbooks.

6. Furthermore, the claim by some, that Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang is not fit for the Vice Presidency because she is not an economist is misconceived and laughable. It is instructive to note, that the VEEP Position is not about economists but, the ability to lead and solve the hydra-headed problems confronting the nation.

It should be clear even to the uninitiated, that any person who is able to transform a Public University, such as the University of Cape Coast which has a faculty of Law, School of economics, Medical School, School of Agriculture among several other disciplines and manage thousands of students and workers from diverse backgrounds, obviously has the competence and versatility to effectively manage and discharge the roles and responsibilities of the office of VEEP.

It is worthy of note, that this country has had Vice Presidents in the past who were not economists, yet chaired government’s Economic Management team (EMT) and produced excellent results. A classical example of this fact is H.E. John Dramani Mahama, who despite not being an economist served as VEEP and chaired the Economic Management Team under the NDC-Mills administration from 2009-2012. It must be noted, that it was within this period that Ghana achieved its best ever economic performance record; highest economic growth rate of 14.4% and longest period of single-digit inflation, just to mention a few.

Also, the late Aliu Mahama, a civil contractor who became the VEEP of President Kufuor did not have any economics background. Yet, he chaired the Economic Management team (EMT) under the NPP-Kufuor administration, which produced the macroeconomic achievements the NPP has continuously boasted of.

In any case, no government is bound by the VEEP-chaired EMT system which is a mere convention and not a constitutional or legal imperative. It is for this reason that the erstwhile NDC-Mahama government constituted a body higher in authority than the EMT between 2013-2017 called the Presidential Advisory Group on the Economy (PAGE) to oversee the management of the economy. And I will not be surprised if this PAGE system is adopted once again by the next NDC-Mahama government. But even if we decide to maintain the current VEEP-chaired EMT system, the versatile Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang has the competence to manage the Economic Management Team with a team of knowledgeable economists and other personalities of the NDC, to produce the positive economic transformation and prosperity Ghanaians are yearning for.

As for the claim that she left behind debt at the Ghana Education Service when she was exiting as Minister of Education in 2017, the least said about it, the better. It is pathetic and laughable that this claim is coming from a group of people who have doubled Ghana’s public debt in the last three (3) and half years, with very little to show.

BACKWARD AND MISOGYNISTIC COMMENTS OF KEY FUNCTIONARIES OF THE NPP AGAINST PROFESSOR NAANA JANE OPOKU-AGYEMANG

Apart from the sexist and baseless comments of Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, the similarly disgraceful comment by the majority leader in parliament that Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang is not capable of being the President of the Republic, is one of the most backward and misogynistic statements by a personality occupying a high office who should know better.

Comments such as these are reminiscent of other similarly shameful statements by President Akufo-Addo when he suggested that Ghanaian women are not dynamic enough at a conference in Canada. The worst part of this embarrassment was that he made the comment at an international women’s event of all places where he was scolded and schooled almost immediately by a fellow panelist on stage.

Such sexist comments have unfortunately but predictably come to define Akufo-Addo and his party the NPP. What is even more unfortunate is the reckless abandon with which Yaw Buabeng Asamoah and Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu attacked Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang. It is quite jarring and so discouraging to people, especially women, to see how such a high-flying woman is attacked with such venom by politicians who could have been her students, and indeed some were.

It is very sad to see a Political party in the 21st century deeply rooted in the 16th century’s primitive views on women. But to any woman listening or watching us this morning, do not lose courage. Look at accomplished role model Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang and be encouraged and inspired to pursue your dreams; you can grow up to become anything you want to be, even the Vice President and President of our nation Ghana.

We again heard other female voices from the NPP talking about virtue. How rich in irony! We will resist the temptation to dignify those reckless comments with any response. The character, integrity, competence, proven track-record and excellent leadership skills of the venerable Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang is unassailable. And no amount of lies can impeach her hard-won reputation or stop her from becoming the first female Vice President of this country.

And so we would prefer to spend the rest of this section of our press briefing to tell you a little bit more about Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang.

As you may be aware:

* Professor Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang after obtaining her bachelor’s degree in French, English and a Diploma in Education from the University of Cape Coast and after completing her doctoral studies at the York University in Canada, taught at the University of Cape Coast for more than 30 years, where she served as Hall Warden for Adehye Hall, Head of the Department of English, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Founding Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, before becoming the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, thereby making history as the first female Vice Chancellor of a public University in Ghana.

* She has produced groundbreaking research in the humanities; her world-class scholarship made her become a fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Life Fellow of the Commonwealth of Learning. She has also published several academic and creative works and received honorary degrees from the University of West Indies, Grand Valley University, Winston-Salem University and the University of Cape Coast. She again received a Global Leadership Award from the University of South Florida.

* Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang was Ghana’s Minister of Education from 2013-2017 and served with distinction.

* Since she left office, she has continued to be a pillar in education by becoming the Chancellor of the Women’s University in Africa based in Zimbabwe.

* She is also the President and Board Chair of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), with its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. This is an important organization that she boosted by winning the Al-Sumait Prize for African Development in the field of Education valued at $1 million.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, aside from these sterling credentials, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang has a proven track-record of delivery in all the positions she has held. She transformed the University of Cape Coast when she was Vice Chancellor through her excellent leadership. She stimulated scholarship by investing in e-learning materials and

provided a congenial atmosphere for students and staff by prioritizing their welfare. She firmly rooted the School of Medical Sciences; established the Law School; established effective ways to make the University financially sound; massively expanded distance learning; and completed several infrastructural Projects for the University.

Also as Minister of Education between 2013-2017, she achieved many significant milestones which include:

* The construction of 123 Community Day Senior High Schools (E Blocks), 46 of which were completed by August 2016 and 77 others at various stages of completion;

* The upgrade of Colleges of Education into Tertiary Institutions;

* The supervision of Ghana’s overall best performing WASSCE nation award by WAEC for four (4) consecutive years;

* The reduction of national average of teacher absenteeism from 27% to 7%;

* The establishment of Special schools in seven (7) out of the 38 Colleges of Education;

* The introduction of progressively free SHS through targeted and sustained planning;

* The construction of  25 district education offices;

* The introduction of the novel BECE Private Candidates Policy;

* In the Teacher Education fraternity alone, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang as the Minister for Education increased Trainee Teachers enrollment from 9,000 to 15,400 annually, added eight new Colleges of Education, and ensured all Colleges of Education benefited from GETFund Projects such as hostels, dining halls, teachers’ flats etc.

She also ensured;

* The procurement and distribution of  500 vehicles to educational institutions across the country;

* The completion of 1,129 Classroom Blocks, 73 Teacher Accommodation Blocks, while rehabilitating 622 schools;

* The elimination of the obnoxious shift system in public basic schools;

* The abolishment of the quota system at the Colleges of Education which led to enrollment increasing from 9,000 to 15,400 thereby creating more teaching opportunities for the youth;

* The donation of some 54,000 laptops to teachers and stocked computer labs with 60,000 computers during her tenure;

* The distribution of 787,485 free school uniforms to deprived districts across the country;

* The automatic employment of teacher trainee graduates;

* The securing of funds from the African Development Bank which was utilized for the construction of 13 modern and well-equipped Technical Institutes across the country;

*Conversion of Polytechnics into Technical Universities;

* The increase of student loan beneficiaries from 13,833 in the 2012/13 academic year to 24,951 in the 2015/16 academic year;

* The upward review of the students’ loan from GHS650-GHS1,600 over two semesters to GHS1000-GHS2000 for same period;

* The introduction of the Students’ Loan Plus to cater for students who gain admission but face financial handicap in raising the initial, time bound registration fees;

* And the distribution of over 40,000 free made in Ghana leather sandals for vulnerable students; among many others.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, it is these attributes of competence, integrity, dignity, honesty and a proven track-record of delivery, that Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang brings to the NDC’s Presidential ticket for the 2020 elections.

Her nomination as Running Mate by President Mahama was unanimously confirmed by the NEC, Council of Elders and our Party’s Founder because we know that she is the safe pair of hands who will complement President John Dramani Mahama to execute his vision for the transformation of this country and the creation of prosperity for all when he is elected.

The NDC revels in the positive local and international euphoria that has greeted her announcement as Running Mate, and the renewed confidence in our politics it has brought about. We are absolutely convinced beyond a shred of doubt, that our Flagbearer by this spectacular choice, has delivered a political masterstroke that will propel the NDC to a resounding victory on December 7th 2020 and end Akufo-Addo’s reign of oppression, dishonesty, insensitivity, hopelessness, discrimination against women, corruption and nepotism.

The NDC is grateful to the vast majority of Ghanaians for the overwhelming and inspirational support this historic nomination has received.

Let’s work together and make history together. We shall prove the chauvinists wrong!

Long live the NDC!

Long live Women!

Long live Ghana!