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Opinions of Monday, 7 May 2018

Columnist: Kwabena Brakopowers

Live from the Woods: NABCO evidence of weak thinking

The introduction of the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) as a stop-gap measure to address the biting graduate unemployment is yet another evidence that our leaders are doing more politics and less thinking.

It is a major indication that our country is in dire need of thinkers to steer its affairs than it does of politicians. For the past 25 years since we began our democratic experiment, the governments our nation has produced have churned out more politics than well-thought-out solutions to our problems.

With the exception of these two brilliantly thought-out programmes, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) introduced by ex-president John Agyekum Kufuor, none of the presidents before and after him, succeeded in creating a programme that can outlive Ghana’s petty politics.

But when it comes to addressing unemployment, president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s predecessors all failed, sadly, including Mr Kufuor. They all rode to power on the back of unemployment and promised to roll back the problem but they only compounded it at the end of their term. These presidents introduced political programmes in the name of solving the issue only to hide behind them to employ their teeming unemployed supporters. A classic case of ‘job for the boys.’

Mr Kufuor’s National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) which metamorphosed into Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Authority (GYEEDA) under ex-president John Mahama and later Youth Employment Agency (YEA) exposes the weak thinking of our leaders. Youth employed under these programmes continue to be subjected to the control of politicians who come to give the limited vacancies to their supporters.

This is obviously not what Ghanaians negotiated for when they voted for these people to become president. They need the government to create real and quality jobs. Not political jobs.

I saw president Akufo-Addo’s promise to speed up Ghana’s industrialization through the setting up of factories as the surest route to address unemployment. But a year after he was sworn-in he has done nothing to show that he is still committed to his words.

Like his predecessors, some of whom he bitingly condemned, he has settled on politics, leading to the introduction of NABCO to temporarily solve graduate unemployment. But who said Ghana needs another temporal solution to the issue of unemployment? And why the need for the creation of another body, when we could have made use of YEA?

Perhaps, this is a signal that the politician has nothing left to offer the country at this great hour of need. At best what these programmes have done is to postpone our problems, which is what our leaders are good at. Truth is, jobs created under these programmes do not expand the country’s revenue base. They only burden the already outstretched resources.

Which real jobs will this programme create that will double or triple the country’s revenue earning? What is the guarantee that politics will not take precedence over fairness and competitiveness during the selection process? And how different is NABCO from YEA?

What we’ve been unable to appreciate is that the issue with our public service has not been about numbers but rather the quality of both input and output. The people there need the right set of attitude and motivation to give off their best and we must be thinking along these lines.

The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has a promise to keep and it must focus on doing just that and stop these cheap politics in the name of job creation. President Akufo-Addo didn’t promise us temporal solutions to our problems. He pontificated and assured he will address Ghana’s problems, so he has to discard these makeshift solutions.

Where are the promised factories that will industrialise our country and expand its revenue base? Where are the dams that will bolster agriculture production and animate our villages?

President Akufo-Addo must know that he was not voted into power to think like a politician. He was elevated from a begging politician to the president of Ghana to do quality thinking as real leaders do.

He needs to be reminded that the success of his government will be greatly measured by the number of quality jobs and not political jobs he will create.

The author, Kwabena Brakopowers is a journalist, blogger, traveller and life enthusiast whose work focuses on politics, health, relationship, environment and international affairs. You can reach him via