Ghana

A Testimony To Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh: A Leader Of Unparalleled Dedication And Integrity (1)

Introduction

 

In recent days, there has been extensive discussion about Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh following his nomination by the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, as his running mate for the 2024 general election. As someone who has a working relationship with Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, also known as NAPO, I find it obligatory to provide an overview of his exceptional qualities and achievements that make him a compelling choice for this role.

This paper will delve into Dr. Prempeh’s deep understanding of public service, his exemplary work ethic, result-oriented nature, and his courage of conviction. It will highlight his genuineness, sincerity, and authenticity, as well as his unwavering support for others, integrity, and fairness.

Additionally, his critical thinking, meritocracy, resourcefulness, and innovative collaboration will be explored, demonstrating his readiness to drive comprehensive development for Ghana. Through these insights, I aim to present a clear picture of why the Bawumia-NAPO ticket represents a visionary and dynamic leadership team poised to tackle the pressing issues of our time and lead Ghana to new heights.

 

Early Professional Interactions

In late 2016, I was informed by one of our foremost professors in education in this country, who previously served as the vice chancellor for the University of Education Winneba and chaired the J. A. Kuffour’s Education Review Committee in 2004, Professor Jophus Anamuah-Mensah.

He indicated to me that there was a World Bank project involving improving the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science, and they were looking for a consultant on the research agenda. Having worked with me previously on other similar projects and read my publications, he thought I was in a better position for that job. So, he gave me the email address to contact the project team. At that time, I was in Ghana. I put in my application and sent my CV. Subsequently, I left for the UK to resettle and continue what I was doing before I came to Ghana in 2016.

While in the UK, I applied to universities, including the University of Oxford Centre for Educational Assessment, for a research consultant or assistant role. In early 2017, I received an email from the University of Oxford inviting me for an interview, which I successfully passed and was offered appointment.

Around the same period, I got an email from the procurement unit of the Ministry of Education stating that the World Bank team, together with the ministry’s procurement team, had reviewed several CVs for a consultant on a World Bank-funded project and found my CV to be the most qualified. They wanted me to come for a discussion about my consultancy fee. I replied, indicating that I was out of the country and suggested having the discussion virtually via Skype, which was arranged and an agreement was reached.

Faced with the decision between the University of Oxford and the Ministry of Education’s World Bank-funded project, I chose the latter for its flexibility and my desire to stay in Ghana. This decision led me back to Ghana in early February 2017. Upon my return, the government was still being fully constituted, and I faced delays in my consultancy fees. I had filed my returns quarterly, yet my fees had not been paid for six months. This was a significant concern as I had a family in the UK to support.

Having met Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, then Minister of Education, at several platforms but not personally, I approached him after one of our meetings. I explained my situation, and he immediately took action. Contrary to the notion that ministers often delay processes, NAPO’s office was clear of pending files. He discovered that the delay was due to someone else in the system, and he resolved the issue within an hour. This first personal encounter revealed NAPO’s efficiency and commitment to resolving issues promptly.

As I continued my consultancy work, I also set up a civil society organisation specialising in education issues and taught at the university. In 2018, I was invited by TV3 to discuss the impact of one year of the Free Senior High School policy. Despite being positioned between two critics of the policy, my extensive understanding of education policy regimes and my experience teaching in both Ghana and the UK enabled me to provide a compelling defense of the policy. This caught the attention of Dr. Opoku Prempeh, who subsequently invited me to support him at the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA) as the head of the institution.

 

Working with NAPO

 

Working with NAPO, I observed several key attributes that define his leadership style:

Work Ethic

Whilst working with him at NaCCA, one thing that I noticed immediately was that if you are looking for a workaholic leader, you will find that in NAPO. He doesn’t know what a break is. He has no time for breaks and is always on the move, tirelessly working to ensure projects are completed on time and to the highest standards.

His relentless pursuit of excellence inspires everyone around him to elevate their performance and dedication. He signed performance contracts with all agency heads, outlining specific deliverables and scores, and ensured regular visits from the monitoring and evaluation team. These performance contracts were focused on results, and he accepted no excuses for effort that did not lead to achieving the set goals.NAPO is known as a bulldozer—a leader who relentlessly pushes through obstacles to achieve his goals.

 

Result-Oriented

If you are looking for a result-oriented person, you will find that in Dr. Opoku Prempeh because he doesn’t take excuses. He doesn’t recognise effort, he recognises outcomes. For instance, when I faced delays in my consultancy fees, NAPO swiftly intervened and resolved the issue within an hour, ensuring that the project could continue smoothly without any hindrances. His ability to cut through bureaucratic delays and achieve tangible results is a testament to his effectiveness as a leader.

 

Courage of Conviction

If you are looking for someone with the courage of conviction, NAPO is the ideal candidate. He steadfastly follows the right path, undeterred by political correctness. This was evident in his implementation of several reforms, including the Free SHS policy with the double-track system, the teacher education and licensing regime, and curriculum reform, among others.

Despite facing strong opposition, NAPO stood firm, articulating the benefits and defending the implementation of these policies with well-researched arguments. His ability to maintain his beliefs in the face of criticism is a defining trait of his leadership.

 

Genuineness and Sincerity

If you’re looking for somebody who is genuine and sincere about what he does, then when you find NAPO, you have found one. NAPO’s approach to leadership is genuine and sincere. He speaks his mind and acts with integrity, ensuring that his actions align with his principles.

During my time at NaCCA, I witnessed how NAPO dealt with several influential publishers who wanted to circumvent the book review process. NAPO firmly supported me in maintaining the integrity of the process, demonstrating his commitment to fairness and justice.

 

Authenticity

If you are looking for somebody who speaks his mind, regardless of whether it is politically correct or not, then you find one in NAPO; a very genuine and authentic voice. At the Ministry of Education, there were many occasions when he spoke his mind, sometimes saying things that might have been better left unsaid in public.

However, in a highly charged political environment, his straightforwardness often led to issues with the media, necessitating the decision for one of his deputies to handle media engagements at some point. Despite this, NAPO’s authenticity and commitment to truth remained unwavering.

 

Support for Others

NAPO’s care for the welfare and ambitions of others is evident in his non-competitive nature. He actively supports the aspirations of his team members. Four members of the team he worked with under the Ministry of Education have gone on to achieve significant political success. This includes myself, Prof. Kingsley Nyarko, who is now the MP for Kwadaso and Deputy Minister for Education; Ekow Vincent Assafuah (Esq), the MP for Old Tafo and Deputy Minister for Local Government and Rural Development; and Hon. Mustapha Ussif, the MP for Yagaba-Kubori and Minister for Youth and Sports.

Each of us contested and won both the primaries and the general election in 2020, a testament to NAPO’s supportive leadership and dedication to the growth and success of those around him. We also won the 2024 primaries, further showcasing the enduring impact of his guidance and support.

 

Prince Hamid Armah, PhD