Deputy General Secretary of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Koku Anyidoho, has taken on former second deputy speaker of parliament, Prof Mike Ocquaye, for defending Dr Mahamudu Bawumia’s breach of the Ghana Education Service’s directive against political campaigning in pre-tertiary schools.
The former Dome Kwabenya MP argued on Monday March 21 in an interview with Accra100.5fm’s Chief Jerry Forson on ‘Ghana Yenson’ that the New Patriotic Party’s running mate to Nana Akufo-Addo, did no wrong meeting high school students as part of his campaign tour of the Volta Region last week.
There was criticism in some quarters, of the banker-turned-politician’s decision to sell the NPP’s message for the 2016 elections to students of Tanyigbe Senior High School last week.
But contrary to assertions by some persons, mainly from the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC), that Dr Bawumia was flouting a GES directive, Prof Ocquaye said given that there were students in that institution, who had attained voting age, the former Bank of Ghana deputy governor was justified in carrying out his political activity there.
He cautioned that if the GES had issued an instruction against political campaigns in basic and second cycle institutions, the service would need to be sure that that order was consistent with the laws of the land.
“If the GES is setting up a directive, they should first look at the constitution of the country. They should look at Ghana’s laws. Many of those there [at Tanyigbe Senior High School] have suffrage. Once the people are 18, they are voters. They have the right to be educated by the political parties. So, let’s understand that very clearly,” Prof Ocquaye said.
“The constitution grants freedom of speech, information, political association, and so on and so forth. So, people who are 18 can vote, and the political parties also have the duty under the very constitution to carry out education.
“People forget, but it’s one of the functions of the political parties under our constitution, to educate the public, so, our politics is not tribal, ethnic, religious, or because of one’s good looks, or other frivolous reason, but rather to be based on issues, matters concerning Ghana’s development. How do we attain that?”
He said the brouhaha within officialdom over Dr Bawumia’s presence at the grounds of the Tanyigbe Senior High School was a reflection of the unease by some government officials that light was being shed on their poor running of the country.
According to Prof Ocquaye: “So, if as a government, you don’t manage the country’s affairs well and you do not want people to be informed of your mismanagement, that’s your cup of tea. The truth must be told the electorate. If you also feel whatever he’s said; you have a response; go ahead and respond. This is wrong. Give them freedom to hear and debate national issues. They are not kids, because many of them are of voting age.”
To him, the NDC, obviously afraid of the fallout from Dr Bawumia’s move, wanted to use the GES as a front to stop him from embarking on that activity. “If you have the truth on your side, what do you fear?” he wondered.
In his response, Mr Anyidoho said: “…Now, for a professor of law to now come out and try to rationalise why Bawumia will go to SHS because they [students] are 18 years, I think that it leaves one wondering what is happening to prof Mike Ocquaye…some of his arguments really leave one wondering whether it’s the same prof Mike Ocquaye we knew when we were students on Legon campus,” Mr Anyidoho told Ekow Mensah-Shalders on Class91.3fm’s Executive Breakfast Show on Tuesday March 22.