20 December 2012

Ghana: The Lap-Top for Students Exercise That Ended With the Vote

It was deemed such an important national assignment that several pages of advertisements in the private and state-run newspapers were contracted to announce the names of the beneficiary students. The government of the day was committed to ensuring that every student got a lap-top, we were told.

Party agents and young men contracted in the name of a so-called Government Communication Team, paid from the sweat of the tax-payer, flocked to radio and television stations in the morning, noon and night to propagate the ideals of the party founded from the butt of the gun, tried rather very hard to make us believe that the State of Ghana was committed to a head-start in Information Communication Technology in Africa, and had therefore, hit on the brilliant idea of a free lap-top for every student.

The Chronicle learnt that the request for the state treasury to pick up the bill was communicated directly from the office of the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Ms. Shirley Ayittey, to the state treasury for payment.

Our information is that at least GH¢100 million of state funds changed hands under a certificate of urgency. With queues about to form at all the 26,000 polling stations, a lap-top per student was a very popular concept at the campuses of our universities and other tertiary institutions.

In spite of the protestations from the Pentecost University that none of the names listed under the name of the university as recipient in the state-sponsored adverts, had been matriculated under their watch, the concept received roof-top publicity.

How the government's magnanimity of making lap-tops available at state expense for use by students came to be so timed as to coincide with the long queues at the 26,000 polling stations, is one of the very strange concepts drawing only a thin line between the "free, fair and transparent elections" being propagated by those looking at the post-election era from beclouded ideological spectacles and gerrymandering.

The certificate of urgency, under which the exercise was conducted and given national priority as the vote got nearer, contradicts with the cemetery silence enveloping the exercise after the long queues had subsided, to be followed by the script of a 'Stolen Verdict' being written by the New Patriotic Party.

Unless official reasons are given for the silence of the lap-top exercise after the vote, it would be difficult to disabuse the minds of those who are beginning to form the idea that the lap-top for student concept was conjured to siphon state resources to oil the election machinery of President John Dramani Mahama and his National Democratic Congress,

The Chronicle does not believe that all students were served before the vote. That is why we thought the exercise would continue with the same roof-top advertisements that preceded the vote.

The other day, television footages of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Summit in Malabo conjured an image of ACP heads tutoring themselves about the advantages of running democratic nations.

The interesting development in the whole jigsaw was the hand-over of the ACP Chairmanship from President Mahama of Ghana to President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo.

The interesting development of note is that President Mbasogo has been in power for 31 years. And they say Equatorial Guinea is a democracy, which tells much about the democratic credentials of those who conceived the idea of a lap-top per students at the time Ghanaians were preparing to queue to vote.

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