Opinion: Where Were These Agric Students When Nurses and Teachers Stood on the Frontlines Fighting for Their Allowances? – By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

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Mr Eric Opoku

NDC agent-provocateurs and rubble-rousers like Mr. Eric Opoku, Member of Parliament for Asunafo-South, in the Brong-Ahafo, must be called to order and possibly sanctioned by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee. He appears to be one of those cynics who are hell-bent on putting stumbling blocks on the path of the yeomanly efforts of the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to get the country’s educational system and economy functioning healthily again.

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In the latest of such dastardly instigation of student-trainees against the government, the ranking member of the Parliamentary Committee on Food and Agriculture has been roiling up students of five agricultural colleges to demand the restoration of their long-established allowances which were callously cut off from them by the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress, on grounds that the national economy could no longer sustain the same (See “Restore Allowances to Agric Students – Minority to Government” Graphic.com.gh 10/22/17).

In principle, I am in favor of having the allowances of all professional student trainees at public tertiary institutions in the country restored. However, this is not going to happen for every one of these students and institutions overnight, for the simple reason that it takes far more planning and resources to rebuild than it takes to destroy in the manner that has widely come to be associated with the faux-socialist ideologues of the main opposition National Democratic Congress. As well, to the best of my knowledge, throughout Nana Akufo-Addo’s 2016 presidential election campaign, it was the savagely and scandalously withdrawn professional-trainee allowances for nurses and teachers that featured on his policy agenda, and not that of student trainees at any of our public agricultural colleges.

This may have been largely because it was our nurse- and teacher-trainees who were mostly positioned on the frontlines of vehement protestation against the withdrawal of their allowances by then-President John Dramani Mahama and Mr. Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, his Deputy Education Minister. I never once heard of any trainees at any of our agricultural colleges either making public demands for the restoration of their allowances or demonstrating and picketing for the same. Consequently, I would not be the least bit surprised if it turns out that the restoration of allowances of student trainees at the nation’s agricultural colleges was not included in the 2017-18 budgetary statement read in Parliament by Mr. Kenneth Ofori-Atta, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

What this means is that our agricultural student trainees may have to wait for their turn sometime next year to have their NDC-withdrawn allowances restored. Nobody should expect such restoration to be effected retroactively or backdated. If these student trainees had given even half the care that our teacher- and nurse-trainees expended in demanding for the restoration of their allowances, they wouldn’t be boycotting classes in fervid demand for the same presently. As the maxim goes: “The monkey cannot always work and break sweat for the baboon to have a free ride.”

I also vehemently disagree with Mr. Opoku, the Asunafo-South NDC-MP, that the Akufo-Addo government needs to negotiate with our agriculture student-trainees. Just as the Mahama regime did not have any qualms with summarily abrogating the payment of these trainee allowances, the Flagstaff House must not feel obligated to do the same. The Minister of Education, Dr. Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, may, however, arrange to have the agricultural student-trainee allowances restored in the near future.

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com  Ghanaffairs

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