General News of Thursday, 22 March 2018
The Mahama administration and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) made a big mistake in the lead-up to the 2016 general elections when allowances of teacher and nurse trainees were cancelled, former Chairman of the party, Dr Yao Obed Asamoah, has said.
Dr Asamoah explained on Wednesday, 21 March that: “We made so many errors in the last campaign. I know, as anybody who is experienced in party organisation knows that the majority of the voters in the country are between the ages of 18 and 35. That is the age group that is concerned with Free SHS; that is the age group that comprises teachers, nurses; you go antagonising them, you will lose an election. It’s as simple as that”.
Teachers, the former Attorney General said, “are all over the place, they are in the smallest villages, and they are the one-eyed person in those villages, and they can influence opinion, so, you go and withdraw their allowances, what do you expect?”
The Mahama government scrapped the teacher trainee allowance regime in 2014. The move sparked several demonstrations from the beneficiaries who vowed to vote against the NDC in the 2016 polls. The system was to be replaced by a students’ loan scheme. The Mahama government explained at the time that the scrap was to allow many more trainees entrance into colleges in contrast to the previous system where a cap existed.
Then-presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo, promised to restore the allowance, which his government did after winning the polls.
In the course of the campaign, Mr Mahama, the incumbent, said it was “better to lose on principle than win using falsehood. We’ll not reverse the decision”.
Dr Asamoah, however, told Accra-based Starr FM that: “…You’ve always got to balance things, you may have difficulties about money but first of all, you need the power to do whatever you want to do, so, you’ve got to see to it that your message resonates with the majority of the electorate and I think we failed in that respect in the last election”.
To him, the failure can be put at the doorstep of “those that were managing the party at that stage and a lot of them were the younger generation.”
“One of the biggest complaints people have within the party is the way the older generation was sidelined in the last elections, and it cost us,” the 82-year-old politician said.