Accra, Ghana (PANA) – Two controversial subjects – claims of the main opposition party’s presidential candidate that he would make education free through to second cycle and relocation of a gas plant - were some of the stories played up by the Ghanaian media this week.
The claim of Nana Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) , got politicians and think-tanks working out he arithmetic to determine its feasibility. And their verdict was that the proposal scored F.
An Accra-based FM station, Joy FM, said on its website that “Imani Ghana doubts feasibility of Nana Addo's free SHS policy.”
It said policy think tank, Imani Ghana, had cast doubts over the feasibility of proposed free secondary education policy by the NPP, which said it could cost US$150 million in its first year of implementation and rise to about US$400 million over a four year period.
However, Imani Ghana, a policy think-tank, wants the NPP come clear on how it intends to fund the policy and its implications for other sectors of the economy.
A Fellow at Imani Ghana, Bright Simmons, said the policy appeared to be "too ambitious for now and unrealistic" pointing out that it could cost more than US$1.0 billion.
Vice president John Mahama joined in casting doubt on the opposition leader’s plan with the state-owned Ghanaian Times carrying the story under the headline “Nana Addo’s free education policy will be untenable – Veep.”
Vice president Mahama said the plan was “untenable”, since what Senior High Schools (SHS) needed was expansion in infrastructure to accommodate more students.
He contended that more than 50% of qualified Junior High School (JHS) graduates could not have access to Senior High School (SHS) because of limited infrastructure.
To address the situation, the government decided to build 200 community SHS across the county from 2013 to 2015 to increase access to secondary education.
The state-owned Graphic also carried Vice president Mahama’s comments under the headline “Nana Addo’s SHS decision misplaced priority – Veep”
It quoted the vice president as saying the decision of Nana Akufo-Addo was a misplaced priority, since what the schools needed was expansion in infrastructure to accommodate more students.
He said Nana Akufo-Addo did not have a clue as to how he was going to fund the free secondary education policy, since he could not say that in an interview on BBC.
“Somebody says he will give free secondary education but when he was asked how much it would cost he said he wanted to tell Ghanaians first,” Mr Mahama said, adding that Nana Akufo-Addo earlier had the opportunity to tell Ghanaians the cost of the programme at an NPP rally in Accra but he failed to do so.
But the opposition candidate shot back immediately saying “Doubting Thomases will be proved wrong.”
He was quoted as saying he would prove the doubting Thomases wrong by implementing the free second cycle education policy if elected as president in December.
He said the lingering doubts by officials of the government over the feasibility of the policy only served to encourage him to make the policy a reality.
“Western Region chiefs support relocation of gas plant,” was the headline of the Graphic on a raging controversy over the siting of a gas plant in Ghana’s Western Region because of a protest by a group following the relocation from Domuli to Atuabo.
The story said the Standing Committee of the Western Regional House of Chiefs had re-affirmed its commitment to support the government over the decision to relocate the gas plant.
The committee therefore described as “unfortunate and individualistic” the stand taken by the chief of the Western Nzema Traditional Area, Awulae Annor Adjaye, and some of the youth of the area to oppose the relocation. They have warned that the government would "regret" its action, as elections approach in December.
The President of the Western Regional House of Chiefs, Awulae Attibrukusu lll, said “one man’s rejection can never override a collective decision from 22 paramount chiefs”.
The Graphic said President John Evans Atta Mills himself had defended the action saying the decision was not born out of the influence of any interest group or individuals but in the supreme interest of the nation.
He noted that technical details were clear that it was better to relocate the plant to its new site.
The media also found space for a decision of a group of youths in Accra to “drive out” lesbians and gays from their midst.
The Ghanaian Times captured the story under the headline “Riot over lesbianism.”
It said angry youths burst in on a same sex marriage ceremony at James Town in Accra early on Monday sending the couple and guests fleeing.
It said the attack came while the two women were exchanging rings and vows at the ceremony.
The enraged youth, including females, wielding sticks, canes and other implements later marched through the neighbourhood singing songs targeted at lesbians.
The story said the mob arrested two girls, aged 19 years and 16 years, who attended the ceremony and demanded that the police arrested all other lesbians in the area.
Human rights groups have condemned the action of the youths who staged another demonstration on Friday.
-0- PANA MA 17March2012