The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described as false the claim that its flagbearer’s running mate, Professor Naana Jane Opoku- Agyemang cancelled the teacher trainee allowance during her tenure as Minister of Education.
“The decision to replace Teacher Trainee Allowance with students loan was a cabinet decision and not a ministerial decision,” the NDC’s National Communication Officer, Sammy Gyamfi said in Accra yesterday.
At a press conference to respond to claims by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) that Professor Opoku-Agyemang, then Minister of Education in the Mahama administration, Mr Gyamfi said this was one of the many “desperate fabrications” being peddled by the NPP about her sterling record as a minister.
Flagbearer and leader of the NDC, John Dramani Mahama on Monday announced Prof Opoku-Agyemang as his running mate for the 2020 general election upon consultations with the party’s Council of Elders and National Executive Council.
Hours afterwards, the NPP held a press conference to downplay her capability to help the party return to power, citing what they said was a poor performance as a Minister of Education during the previous administration.
Explaining the trainee allowance saga, Mr Gyamfi said it was converted to students’ loans in order to abolish the quota system of admissions into colleges of education and increase enrollment and teaching opportunities for the youth.
He said it was to ensure equity and equality among tertiary students, thus “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 Nana Akufo-Addo and the NPP for cheap political capital and electoral gain with the promise that they will fully restore same if elected,” he said.
According to him, instead of the full restoration of the allowances as was promised by President Akufo-Addo and the NPP, it was being done partially and in an erratic manner which had resulted in four months arrears since February.
“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,” Mr Gyamfi stated.
He debunked the claim that Prof Opoku-Agyemang introduced the three months’ salary payment for newly recruited teachers during her time, explaining that the policy was introduced by the finance ministry as part of reforms, to check the phenomenon of payroll fraud and ensure that newly recruited teachers, nurses and doctors were paid their first three months’ salary without any hindrance.
On the cancellation of Book and Research allowances for lecturers of tertiary institutions as alleged by the NPP, the NDC’s National Communication Officer asserted that the allowance was not canceled when Prof Opoku-Agyemang was Minister of Education.
Concerning her plea for clemency for the ‘Montie trio’, Mr Gyamfi said , the running mate only signed the petition to mitigate the harsh sentences of the three convicts, after they had served six weeks in prison and paid GH₵10, 000 each, as fines for scandalising the Supreme Court.
“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 virtue,” he said.
He said the selection of Prof Opoku-Agyemang as running mate, had demonstrated that the party recognised the contribution of women to the development of the country and believe in their capacity to lead at the hem of political leadership.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR