Mathew Opoku Prempeh and the Arrogance of Power

Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh was one of the personalities i admired and respected highly in the NPP when the party was in opposition. Though his tenure as one of the spokespersons for the NPP in opposition was not particularly distinguished nor was he noted for any major achievement as the MP for his constituency while in opposition, he nevertheless carried himself in a rather dignifying way. He was one of my targeted Presidential materials in the NPP.

But events after the party’s victory in the 2016 election have proved my predictions and calculations wrong. May be, President Akufo-Addo also thought less of his attributes as communicator of his party and a parliamentarian than his administrative and intellectual skills that might be better suited to manage a sensitive ministry as the education ministry. His deep baritone together with his imposing physique gave him presence and I think that also deceived the President. The type of protection that his deceptive demeanor afforded him might no longer be possible in his new position. Which is to say that the true character of the man Matthew Opoku Prempeh might gradually be showing now. And trust me, the picture developing from this might not be entirely flattering to his person.

Ghanaians were righteously outraged to hear that headmasters who expressed concerns about the free SHS were made to crouch at his feet in the full glare of his aides to beg for forgiveness. The Minister sat back in a manner that suggests he is used to such demeaning and psychologically brutalising treatment of his subordinates and he looked on with feline complacency as the headmasters knelt before him. We all heard him when he responded to the Vice Chancellor and Dr Addo Kufour when the two gentlemen commented on the free SHS policy.

He didn’t only sound insulting, but his tone and voice was both authoritarian and threatening. The last time I saw a minister of state addressing respected persons in our society in that threatening manner was during the military era. But Matthew Opoku Prempeh, was either blissfully unaware or unperturbed by the inappropriateness of his insults, a form of verbal violence,to his predecessor and other respected persons in the country. These episodes got me rethinking my earlier favourable impression of the man Matthew Opoku Prempeh. And even though I would have expected more sophisticated behaviour from someone of his professional and intellectual attainments, his latest conduct ( attack on Prof Naana Jane) seems one of a type with the earlier one.

I first started feeling disappointed in the man after i saw television footage of him addressing opposition members on the floor of Parliament. This was shortly after the new MPs had been sworn into office. I will deal extensively on that. But let’s see some of the achievements of the Mahama administration in the education sector which were supervised by the woman Matthew said has know knowledge about education. At the second cycle level

1. She supervised the construction of 123 Community Day High Schools across the country.

2.Supervised and facilitated financing for the construction of additional 23 Community Day SHS.

3.Provision of scholarship to 10,400 needy students.

4. Capacity building for over 7,000 mathematics, science and ICT teachers

5.Leadership training for Secondary School heads.

6.In the 2013/14 academic year, 200 science resource centres were equipped with 2,794 items ranging from science and laboratory equipment, electronic equipment, technical support, ICT and audio visual items.

7.Under her watch, Government expanded special subsidies to cover more students in SHSs. In addition, over 58,000 bunk beds, 50,000 pieces of furniture, 30,000 computers and 300 small water projects were provided for selected SHSs as at the end of July 2015.

7.Under her watch, government absorbed science development fees, sports, culture, internet, examination fees charged to day students.

We shall continue in my next writeup but let me touch on her achievements at the basic level;

1. A total of 1,614 out of 2, 578 basic schools projects were completed under the schools under trees programme.

2.A number of teachers bungalows, education offices, sanitation blocks and 203 out of the 232 classroom blocks were completed.

3. The shift system, through pupils run shift due to lack of adequate classrooms was eliminated.

4. Over 100 million exercise books were distributed.

5, She supervised the distribution of 12.5 million English, Maths and Science text books to public basic schools.

6. The total coverage of the school feeding programme increased from 441,189 children to 1,693,000 under her watch.

7.60,000 laptops were distributed to basic school pupils in all the ten regions and 50,000 basic school teachers benefited from ICT training.

8. 10,000 locally produced sandals were distributed to pupils in selected deprived districts plus 6,000,000 text books, 15,000 exercise books, 30,000 computers were also distributed to schools across the country as well as 11,300 mono desks, 20,000 dual desks and workshop for pre school children

She introduced the unprecedented Basic Education Certificate Examination resit policy and 1,181 candidates had the chance to resit their BECE as private candidates in February 2015.

1,000 teachers underwent in service training in line with the objective of improving teaching of Maths and Science.

Teacher training institutions were equipped with requisite science laboratories and resources to train 20,000 teachers to improve the teaching of Maths and Science in the basic schools.

At the tertiary level,

1. Ultramodern central laboratories equipped with cutting edge equipments such as high capacity nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, mass spectrometer analysers were completed at the KNUST.

The University of Health and Allied Sciences started under Prof Mills was completed and new campus were completed at Sokode Lokoe near Ho under her watch.
The polytechnics were converted into universities.

We shall continue with her achievements at the tertiary level including the construction of the 617 bed teaching hospital, the inauguration of the $37 million distance education ICT facility for all the 10 regions etc etc etc.

Matthew Opoku Prempeh cannot undermine her achievements not even the empty airs of his bloated egos. But it is Ghanaians themselves that must continue to insist on the type of appointees they want and the conduct expected of our appointees. In my next epistle, we shall discuss policies of the two ministers. We heard Mathew on his free SHS and the 3 year fixed sponsorship deal and how he quickly changed his position when Ghanaians started asking him questions. We heard what he said about the teachers examination policy and his subsequent position when teachers questioned the wisdom behind that policy.

Watch out for Part 2.

Source: Ohenenana Obonti Krow

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