20 September 2013

Ghana: Tescon Bites Mahama Over Corruption At the Expense of Education

Kumasi — THE TERTIARY Education Confederacy of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has taken the government of President John Dramani Mahama to task, over what it describes as widespread corruption in the current administration.

The intellectual wing of the opposition party says it is appalled at the alleged naked corruption and the seemingly apathetic attitude of the Presidency which it claims has had negative trickle down effect on the educational sector in recent years.

They noted that having gone through the educational system themselves as students, they have been witnesses to poor conditions under which hardworking lecturers and teachers in public educational institutions have had to endure in their efforts to secure what is due them, whilst public funds are being expended on absolutely non-beneficial sectors.

In a jointly signed statement by the various colleges and universities in the Ashanti Region, titled "Biography of the NDC Government- Corruption at the Expense of Education," the group catalogued a number of incidents of corruption, misappropriation of public funds, vis-a-vis the dwindling fortunes of the educational sector as a result of lack of funds.

It noted that the prevailing lack of students' accommodation, overcrowded classrooms and lecture halls, lack of adequate security on campuses, high cost of living in terms of study material amongst others, as some of the challenges that the President Mahama-led government has completely failed to tackle.

The TESCON alleged that public funds that could have been channeled into education were being squandered by functionaries of the NDC and their cronies through fraud and mischievous manner.

The group specifically questioned why in 2012, government expenditure reached a historic level, as the government overspent to the tune of GH¢8.7 billion, representing 12.1 percent of GDP, a figure which it claims, was the highest fiscal deficit in the country's economic history.

"We want to ask Mr. John Dramani Mahama, the youthful President of Ghana, why the office of the President last year spent in excess of GH¢600 million above its approved budget. We are told for the months of October and November 2012 alone, President Mahama approved and oversaw the reckless dissipation of state funds to the tune of GH¢500 million," the students alleged and indicated that these amounts were spent on projects the renovation of his office and "special operation".

The students' wing of the NPP further observed that in the 2012/13 academic year, SHS fees increased from GH¢ 500 to GH¢ 800 cedis and GH¢ 300 to GH¢ 400 cedis per term, for boarders and day students respectively, due to government's failure to pay tuition, subsidies and other grants meant for schools on time.

"In the current academic year, fees charged in public universities/polytechnics were not less than GH¢ 1,200 per year; Ghanaian fee-paying students are paying not less than GH¢5,500.00 to GH¢7,000.00 per year; while that of the private universities are also in excess of GH¢ 4,500 for one year," they noted.

They further alleged that huge sums of monies were being dashed to students with some allegedly being sponsored by leadership of the NDC to contest every position on campuses in order to influence students' interest.

The group cited for instance, last year's congress of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) on KNUST Campus, where there were alleged financial inducement on the part of government just to make sure loyalists of the NDC won positions.

The TESCON also pointed other huge financial misappropriations on the part of some state institutions like the National Security Council Secretariat which was alleged to have received GH¢4,452,450.00 as funds for "goods and services".

As proof of their allegations, the group mentioned an account number 2210106 where it claimed the said amount was lodged, whilst it alleged another account 2111001 was allegedly used as conduit for the payment of GH¢100,000.00 and additional GH¢1.5 million as special allowances, special operation budgets and goods and services, though it failed to mention the financial institution through which such amounts were lodged.

"Whilst basic schools across the country were yet to receive their capitation grants and subsidies for SHS were yet to be disbursed, President Mahama by the close of 2012 authorized the payment of GH¢58 million to Roland Agambire and his RLG on the 21ST of November last year, just about two weeks from the elections, from account number 211100," it further alleged.

The TESCON also alleged that a number of financial discrepancies on government expenditures in the areas of Social Protection Programmes, allocation of computers and laptops to schools, the infamous Guinea fowl project by ASONGTABA and awards of road contracts under the current administration of the NDC.

The group, therefore, described as a shame the claim by President Mahama to be fighting corruption, stressing that the President's inability to deal decisively with his appointees indicted in various corruption scandals was a demonstration of his lack of commitment to fighting the menace.

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