COMMENTARY TODAY LOOKS AT THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF PROF. NAANA JANE OPOKU-AGYEMANG AS RUNNING MATE TO THE NDC FLAGBEARER, JOHN DRAMANI MAHAMA
After many months of speculations and uncertainty about who was to partner John Dramani Mahama, Presidential Candidate of the NDC, as the party prepares for election 2020 in December, the dust has finally settled on Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, an astute academician. It all started as a rumor that Prof. Opoku-Agyemang has been penciled for the number two spot on the NDC hierarchy to contest the 2020 general election. Not many political pundits considered her as a front runner for the position especially with the calibre of names that had popped up as potential running mates. Some of the names rumored were Economist Prof. Kwesi Botchwey, one of Ghana’s longest serving Minister of Finance; a Finance & Banking Expert Dr. Kwabena Duffour, also a former Minister of Finance; Educationist and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Professional Studies and a Minister of State and MP, Prof Joshua Alabi; Former Speaker of Parliament and Lawyer, Edward Doe Adjaho; Finance Expert & Academic Sylvester Mensah; Diplomat and former Minister of State, Ekow Spio-Garbrah; Lawyer Goosie Tanoh, and others. Among these stalwarts was Prof. Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang, the only female candidate on the list. She was also the only candidate considered an ‘outsider’. Despite her huge academic qualifications and popularity in the university, little was known of her in political circles until she was appointed Minister of Education under the Mahama led NDC regime.
Yes, she was the first female Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast but very little was known of her, first being a member of any political party especially the NDC and her political ambitions. Her shot to fame was when she co-hosted the 2012 Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) sponsored presidential debates. Well, the odds may have been against her but just as the Virgin Mary found favour in the eyes of God and was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ, Prof. Opoku-Agyemang’s destiny as a running mate for the December 7, 2020 election had been sealed by God. It was therefore not surprising when she received an overwhelming endorsement from the Founder of the NDC, Jerry John Rawlings, the Council of Elders, the National Executive Committee and the rank and file of the party, as well as the public. Her announcement by Mr. Mahama received thunderous applause.
Prof Jane Naana Opoku-Agyemang was born in Cape Coast in 1951 and grew up in Komenda, Accra, and Cape Coast. She attended Aburi Girls, Wesley Girls High School and later to the University of Cape Coast for a Bachelor’s degree in English. She received both her graduate and PhD Education at York University in Canada in English literature. After completing her Doctoral studies, she returned to Ghana with her family and lived in Cape Coast. Prof. Opoku-Agyemang taught at the University of Cape Coast for more than 30 years, where she served as warden for Adehye Hall, Head of the Department of English, Dean of the faculty of Arts and founding Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, before making history as the first female Vice-Chancellor of a university in Ghana. During those periods, she mentored and inspired thousands of students who testify to her kindness, intelligence, concern for their welfare, and integrity to this day. She also produced groundbreaking research works in the humanities; her world-class scholarship made her become a fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In 2013, she was appointed the Minister of Education under the erstwhile NDC Administration and served with distinction. Her achievements in the education sector include reducing national average of teacher absenteeism from 27% to 7%; established Special schools in 7 out of the 43 Colleges of Education; introducing progressively free SHS through targeted and sustained planning; constructing 25 District Education offices; introducing the BECE Private Candidates Policy; procuring and distributing 500 vehicles to educational institutions. She was instrumental in completing 46 e-blocks with 77 others at various stages of completion; and completing 1,129 Classroom Blocks, 73 Teacher Accommodation Blocks, and 82 boreholes while rehabilitating 622 schools; among many others. Prof. Opoku-Agyemang was appointed Chancellor of the Women’s University in Africa based in Zimbabwe to continue to be a pillar in education on the African continent when the NDC lost the 2016 general. She is also the President and Board Chair of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), where she helped raise one million dollars to improve their impact in Africa. After making history as the first female running mate for a major political party in Ghana, she seeks to break even newer ground as the first female Vice President in the history of Ghana if the NDC wins the December 7, 2020 elections. The choice of Prof. Opoku-Agyemang exemplifies John Mahama’s beliefs in the role of women in the democratic structure of the country and to break the jinx and the stereotypical wisdom that “Ghanaians are not ready for a female president”. We wish her all the best.
BY: WISDOM PETER AWUKU, A JOURNALIST.