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See Full Text of Speech by Dr. John Mahama at the Launch of 27th Annual Residential Delegates Congress





I wish to begin by thanking you all very much for the kind invitation and for your presence this afternoon.
I am particularly happy to speak with you today, first because you have reached out to me personally and this explains why I have adjusted my itinerary to be here.
The second reason is that your theme: ‘Prioritization of Technical and Vocational Education: A vehicle to accelerate Industrialization’ coincides with the thinking that dominated my interventions in TVET during my tenure as President and remains in sync with my plans going forward from 7th January, 2021.
Let me at this juncture express my sincere appreciation to Professor Naana Jane Opoku- Agyemang and her team that included her two deputies, Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and Hon. Alex Kyeremeh for the successes that we chalked during my term in office. Indeed, the credit for midwifing the Technical Universities is attributable to Professor Naana Jane Opoku- Agyemang and her team at the Ministry of Education. Ghana will forever be grateful to you.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, you will recall that in my first SONA address in 2013 after I had been newly inducted into office, I announced the policy to convert our Polytechnics into Technical Universities.
I wish to reiterate that the NDC’s idea to turn the Polytechnics into Technical Universities, was for very good reasons. It was about taking education, especially technical and vocational education seriously – making it an anchor of national development and an instrument of national transformation.
I put that pressure on myself and our government for the good of our beloved country, with an overall objective of equipping our youth with high level skills needed in preparation for entry into the world of work.
Your theme resonates so well, since it formed the fulcrum that supported all our actions in the TVET area.
The move was to help advance more vigorously, a process of repositioning the polytechnics as strategic institutions that train personnel with high level technical skills in the TVET domain, towards the country’s economic and national development agenda.
But what thoughts led to this idea in the first place?
I am aware that most of you will be privy to the information I am about to present, but it does not hurt to repeat them and even clarify the thinking behind the actions we took, if only to refresh the memory of some of us, and to share the information with those who might be paying attention to this for the first time.

It was a practical step taken towards the following:
• Diversifying the tertiary terrain,
• Raising the quality of technical education,
• Creating clear pathways for skills development and growth,
• Putting confidence in our learners who choose the paths of technical/vocational
training, and
• Even more important, bridging the gaps between training, employment and national
We acted boldly to remove the glass ceiling that had been imposed on technical education. This ceiling appeared over the years, like a deliberate effort to limit the sphere of our young ones who made the decision to take the path of TVET.
It imposed a certain stigma and inferiority on them. I believe with all conviction at my disposal, that the pupil from JSS who has aptitude for TVET must have his or her horizon expanded to the highest levels of training possible, just like his or her counterparts who choose other paths of education.
This is especially critical at this stage of our national development, when we need more technical human resources to help turn our raw material into processed goods, create and maintain machines and thereby create jobs and stimulate the economy.
The journey from HND to B.Tech was unnecessary and too long and unreasonably frustrating. You know this better than I do- what it was like to struggle to gain admission into the few higher education institutions, which offered the HND holder the opportunity for a top up to upgrade their qualifications into a degree.
The process of conversion of our polytechnics to technical universities was well thought out and planned. We did not simply announce a wholesale conversion ahead of parliamentary discussion and approval that took place.
We set up a panel of experts to meticulously study the landscape, perform a human and equipment as well as an infrastructural audit of the existing polytechnics to guide the conversation and final decisions. The panel studied best practices in many countries and decided that since everyone was pointing at the German model, to study the original that others seemed to replicate, based on their peculiar circumstances and their vision for their countries.
This process was carefully conceived and meticulously thought-through, and it was an intervention that connected the links and created a clear pathway from the JHS through the technical institutes to the TUs.
As a nation, my administration was firmly of the belief that we should make an honest appraisal of TVET, by avoiding the wrong perception that it was the refuge of those who could not meet higher academic standards.

This was a discriminatory, self-defeating, exclusionist, notion that had existed for many decades and was an effective way of leaving many behind. TVET is a legitimate and important area the nation should be interested in advancing, if we wish to make any difference to the basics of our economy.
We had carried out an audit of existing technical schools to aid in plugging identified holes in the pool from which the Technical Universities might source their students. This report led to the selection of 13 technical Institutes for quality improvements.
Under my administration, we invested $60.3 million to commence the expansion of TVET institutions by constructing modern school infrastructure in 13 Technical and Vocational Institutes.
An initial survey revealed sustained neglect of this important type of education. The facilities recommended for construction included workshops, dormitories, staff accommodation, administration blocks and lecture theatres. The larger aim included an equipment audit to be able to retool and fix appropriate tools for study in this critical area of education.
The beneficiary schools were:
• Ada Technical Institute (Greater Accra Region),
• Akwatia Technical Institute (Eastern Region),
• Amankwakrom Technical Institute (Eastern Region)
• Asuansi Technical Institute (Central Region),
• Bolga Technical Institute (Upper East Region),
• Kpando Technical Institute (Volta Region),
• Nkoranza Technical Institute (Brong Ahafo Region),
• Dabokpa Technical Institute (Northern Region),
• Wa Technical Institute (Upper West Region),
• Krobea Asante Technical Institute (Ashanti Region)
• Takoradi Polytechnic (Western Region)
• Accra Polytechnic (Greater Accra Region)
We also sponsored the training of 148 instructors at the Diploma level, 20 instructors at the Master’s level and 5 faculty members at the PhD level, in order to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in TVET institutions. It was imperative that the instructors themselves had the highest levels of training in their respective field, as was required in any institution.
We did not think that it was enough to complain and even admit that as a nation we did not have enough “technical expertise” to transform our natural resources into wealth for our people.

It is still not enough to convince ourselves that we are rich in natural resources when we continue to experience unforgivable levels of poverty and deprivation. Importing technical know-how had become so acceptable that we had all but assumed that was normal.
My government has faith in the ability of our youth to acquire the relevant skills given, the right conditions. As part of supporting brilliant but needy students, we awarded scholarships to 1,520 students, including 333 females, in Polytechnics and Technical Institutes.
It was part of the plan to promote access and at the same time, increase the visibility of females in TVET beyond those areas usually dominated by females.
It was my government that enacted The Technical Education Act, 2016 (Act 992) through parliament to pave the way for the conversion of the first six polytechnics in September 2016, of which the Kumasi Technical University was one of them. The Ministry of Education received, after that date, the report of the expert review panel on the re-assessment of Cape Coast and Tamale Polytechnics to be considered for conversion.
Consequently, an executive approval was given to upgrade the two, bringing the total number of new Technical Universities to eight. It was only two- Wa and Bolgatanga Polytechnics- that were not converted at the time, but we had put in place a programme to accelerate road infrastructure, human resources, and equipment base of these polytechnics so that we could convert them in the shortest possible time. And that is what I expect that the current government must be doing so that Wa and Bolgatanga can join their colleagues as fully-fledged Technical Universities.
While the conversion was going on, my government was still in the process of assisting the remaining polytechnics through retraining of staff, re-tooling of laboratories, renovation of existing infrastructure, deepening governance structures and the running of accredited Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) programmes to merit their conversion to technical universities. This process we will continue when we return to office after we have win the 2020 elections.
Of course you are already aware of the construction projects we started, including hostels, library complexes, workshops, lecture theatres, offices, an ultra-modern hotel, catering and management block, installation of equipment, learning systems, the refurbishments we initiated or completed, among many to ensure that our desire to transform our country was not a slogan.
You are also aware of what progress, if any, has been made since my team and I left office. We maintain our faith in such developments, to give hope to our youth and demonstrate true meaning to the importance of TVET as vehicle to accelerate industrialization.
What I have been trying to demonstrate is that the plan was strategically conceived; it was well thought through; it was not an ad-hoc measure, picking loose ends of a non-existing overall strategy and weaving in coloured threads that don’t fit into the pattern because there is none.

We had a master plan, a blueprint that we followed to ensure that my administration prioritized Technical and Vocational Education as an effective vehicle to accelerate the industrialization in of our beloved country.
It is my intention, in the future government that I will head, to rebrand TVET into an alternative of first choice rather than the wretched path that students are compelled to take when all other doors are closed to them.
I am committed to the improvement of our Educational system to serve as a catalyst for the acceleration of our economy. And this must cover quality, affordability, and access at all levels of the educational ladder.
Basic education is particularly critical as it forms the foundation for solid human resource development. We will continue our work to improve the performance of public schools at both the basic and secondary levels.
We will resume our programme to fast-track educational infrastructure at the secondary level to absorb the increased numbers occasioned by the implementation of the Free SHS programme.
We will complete all the remaining 200 Community Day SHS we began and build additional ones in high density urban communities, including the Zongos and the underserved areas. I believe that this will bring secondary education to the doorsteps of our people.
In the first 3 months of my coming into office we will hold a stakeholder consultation with parents, teachers, and educational experts to identify and eliminate all the bottlenecks that are affecting the effective implementation of the free SHS programme.
Ladies and gentlemen, Free SHS is here to stay!
Indeed, it is underpinned and guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and it cannot be reversed by any government. But all administrations, including this one and any future one, have an obligation to make it a qualitative and enjoyable experience for our children.
And I am determined to make secondary education a beneficial learning experience, more than the current miserable conditions our children are having to face, under the Nana Akufo-Addo administration.
At a later date, before the election of 2020, I intend to lay out in detail before all stakeholders and the good people of Ghana, our blue-print for the educational sector and especially our plan for making the Free SHS programme more sustainable.
And as I have said in my statement, we intend to continue to clear the pathway, so that the path towards technical and vocational education training from the basic level, through the secondary level, to the tertiary level, will be an alternative of first choice and not an alternative of “rejected students”.

Indeed, I daresay that we need our brightest and best to take the path of technical education, if we are to transform this country.
Let me once again thank your executives and organisers for your kind invitation to be with you, and I wish to assure you that I will always be an advocate and an ambassador for technical universities and technical education in the Republic of Ghana.
Thank you very much and may God richly bless you.


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Police Arrest Four Yoruba Nation Agitators for Seizing Radio Station




Some Yoruba Nation agitators, on Sunday morning, seized Radio Nigeria, Amuludun FM 99.1 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, taking over broadcast for more than one hour.

A source told The PUNCH Metro that the agitators, who besieged the station around 5:40 am in an 18-seater bus, were armed with dangerous weapons and charms, threatening to deal decisively with any staff member who refused to cooperate with them.

However, four out of the agitators, among whom was a woman, were arrested by the police with the assistance of the Nigerian army, while others ran into different directions to evade arrest.

One of the arrested agitators, who sustained gunshot wounds, had rushed into the studio to tell others that security operatives had taken over the nooks and crannies of the station. The blood stain was seen in the studio.

An investigation by our correspondent revealed that after holding some night duty staff and security guards hostage, the agitators hijacked the studio and announced live on radio “Welcome to Yoruba Nation.”

An impeccable source further said they continued threatening staff members to remove all Nigeria flags in the station and replace them with Yoruba Nation flags as they have already taken over the Government Secretariat, Agodi, Ibadan.

It was further learnt that they initially hijacked some commercial vehicles (Micra) to block the main road.

When our correspondent visited the station at J&P Bus-stop, Moniya in Akinyele Local Government Area of the state, more than 20 operational vehicles of security agents, including Department of State Services were sighted at strategic locations to forestall any eventuality.

Confirming the invasion, the most senior staff on duty, Ajayi Omotola, stated that, “They told us that they are Yoruba Nation agitators. And in their T-shirt, there was that inscription there. They wrote Yoruba Nation. Only six persons came inside the studio with different charms threatening to kill us if we failed to cooperate. Others were outside manning security at different areas within the premises.

“They collected all our phones and threatened to kill us if we made any noise or phone calls. They said they wanted to broadcast live that Yoruba Nation has taken over. We should remove all Nigeria flags in our studio and replace it with their own. They didn’t allow anybody to go outside. The Area Commander came, addressed and even pleaded with them but they ignored him. We later heard sporadic shooting outside. So, one of our staff members then came inside to inform us that police and soldiers had arrived,” Omotola stressed.

As of press time, normalcy had returned while stern-looking security operatives were still manning the station.

The Punch

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76th Cannes Film Festival Ends with Bang




The stars on parade at 76th Festival de Cannes


By Michael Effiong

The colour, the glamour, the style and class of the 76th Annual Cannes Film Festival ends today with a big bang.

Festival de Cannes, the film industry’s most prestigious festival will take place at 8:30 pm and will be broadcast live on France 2 and internationally on Brut.

The Jury, presided over by director Ruben Östlund and including director Maryam Touzani, actor Denis Ménochet, writer/director Rungano Nyoni, actress/director Brie Larson, actor/director Paul Dano, writer Atiq Rahimi, director Damián Szifron and director Julia Ducournau, will select the winners from the 21 films in Competition this year.

Actress Anaïs Demoustier, President of the Jury, will hand out the Caméra d’or award to the best first film. Actress Stacy Martin and director Ildikó Enyedi, President of the Short Film and La Cinef Jury, will award the Palme d’or for short films.

Actor Orlando Bloom will hand out the Jury Prize. Actor Song Kang-ho, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actor for Broker and actress Zar Amir Ebrahimi, last year’s winner of the Best Performance by an Actress for Holy Spider, will award the Best Performance by an Actress and Best Performance by an Actor Prizes respectively.


Actor John C. Reilly, President of the Un Certain Regard Jury, will award the Best Screenplay Prize, while Pete Docter, Creative Director of Pixar Studios, will present the Best Director Prize.


The Festival de Cannes will also be honored by the exceptional presence tonight of legendary filmmaker Roger Corman, who will present the Grand Prix alongside virtuoso Quentin Tarantino.


Finally, the prestigious Palme d’or will be presented by the formidable and inspiring Jane Fonda.


The Closing Ceremony will mark the end of the 76th Festival de Cannes, and will be followed by the screening of Peter Sohn‘s film Elementary in the Grand Théâtre Lumière.


The 21 films competing for the Palme d’or this year are : Firebrand by Karim Aïnouz, Asteroid City by Wes Anderson, Rapito (Kidnapped)(Kidnapped) by Marco Bellocchio, Les Filles d’Olfa (Four Daughters)(Four Daughters) by Kaouther Ben Hania, L’Été dernier (Last Summer) (Last Summer) by Catherine Breillat, Kuru Otlar Ustune (About Dry Grasses)(About Dry Grasses) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Le Retour (Homecoming) by Catherine Corsini, The Zone of Interest by Jonathan Glazer, Club Zero by Jessica Hausner, May December by Todd Haynes, Monster by Kore-Eda Hirokazu, Kuolleet Lehdet (Fallen Leaves)(Fallen Leaves) by Aki Kaurismäki, The Old Oak by Ken Loach, Il Sol dell’ avvenire (A Brighter Tomorrow)(A Brighter Tomorrow) by Nanni Moretti, La Chimera by Alice Rohrwacher, Black Flies by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire, Banel e Adama by Ramata-Toulaye Sy, La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (The Pot-au-Feu) (The Pot-au-Feuby Tran Anh Hùng, Anatomie d’une chute (Anatomy of a Fall) (Anatomy of a Fallby Justine Triet, Jeunesse (Le Printemps) (Youth (Spring))(Youth (Spring)) by Wang Bing, Perfect Days by Wim Wenders.

The Closing ceremony, usually a wonderful evening to behold will be broadcast in English and French by Brut.

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Delta Beyond Drugs: Bishop Aruakpor Receives Silec Initiatives




In preparation for the forthcoming Delta Beyond Drugs Project in Delta State, the SILEC Initiatives team paid a visit to the Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Oleh Church of Nigeria, The Rt. Rev’d John Usiwoma Aruakpor. The solidarity visit was led by the Founder/President Silec Initiatives, Amb. Sunny Irakpo, a U.S Government Sponsored Exchange Alumni who was invited by the U.S Government to participate in the prestigious international Visitor’s Leadership Exchange Program of the Department of State in 2019.

Upon his return from the States, the anti-drug ambassador has continued to sensitize the public on the dangers of drug abuse in Nigeria where he currently floats the Delta Beyond Drugs Project to compliment the efforts of the State Government in order to help address the heightened state of drugs and substance abuse.

Irakpo, intimated the plans of the DBD Project to the Diocesan who keep championing innovative projects in Isoko especially the just concluded School of Nursing , Hospital and many other ongoing projects for the Isoko nation. He hinted that the primary objective of the DBD Project is to sensitize the youths and parents alike about the dangers of drug abuse with the various experimentations presently ongoing amongst youths.

He voiced that drug abuse has eaten deeply into the fabric of the society, and the illicit are experimentation by the youths with different hazardous chemicals/ drugs on a regular basis which is even harmful to their health and that the need to address this ugly trends claiming the lives of promising youths in the state is now.

The trend which has become very worrisome in Isokoland and other parts of Delta state, need the attention of all stakeholders to participate in the wellbeing and wellness of our youths and society.

While he appreciated the clergyman for given them the opportunity to collaborate with the church, also related that Silec Initiatives is one of the most active anti-drug NGO in Nigeria, and as a pragmatic organization that has contributed immensely to the fight against drugs merchandise with empirical evidences, remain an NGO recognized at the international level for their exception capacity in the fight against drug abuse in Nigeria for over a decade.

In his response, Bishop Aruakpor was very happy, impressed and proud with the Founder Silec Initiatives Sunny Irakpo for making the Isoko nation proud in Nigeria and across the global space.

And that seeing a young man with such laudable vision with thought provoking ideas and concept is an indication that Isoko nation is on the good path of greatness and progress if only support is given to him and many others who are making the Isoko nation proud.

In his words, I am proud of you for all the giant strides you have made in this nation in this life transforming Initiative.

We gladly welcome you home for we need you at this critical moment that our youths are becoming something else in the name of drugs. As a diocese ,we are doing our best in the environment we’ve found ourselves as we continue to apply the ant philosophy to achieve all the God given projects to us. For there’s nothing , I lay my hands that God will not help me to accomplished. So in this campaign against drugs and substance abuse in Delta State Particularly in Isokoland, we are solidly behind you to drive the message back home. We shall give Silec Initiatives the full support and to also rally round in the area of funding for the sustenance of the project. We shall also try our best to reach out to the various stakeholders of which we are also involving the Nigeria Police, all the clergy and the youths.

Other members of the team were Kingsley Ewomarevia Silec Initiatives Community Liaison Coordinator, James Agholor, Director of Publication Silec Initiatives, top Isoko artistes Obara Obaro (MC Moonlight) and Funky Franky a music impresario.

The event is schedule to take place with a mega rally to mark the international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking on the 10th June ,2023 in Partnership with the Anglican Diocese of Oleh Church of Nigeria by 8:am at the Cathedral of Paul as a meeting point to take off.

The founder Silec Initiatives enjoined all Sons and Daughters of Isoko to come out enmass to vehemently resist this enemy of progress of youths, Isoko nation, Delta State and Nigeria in general.

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