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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Columnist: Atiemo, Paul Obeng

National service scheme in perspective

The National Service Scheme, policy wise, has over the years evolved referencing the introduction of special models (including Agriculture, etc.), however, the plight of the ‘instruments’ (Service Personnel) used to accomplish the objectives of these policies have remained stunt including low motivation, tranquillity amidst horror, just to mention a few.

It is mundane that after the release of the National Service posting, personnel are asked to register with the National Service Secretariat and report immediately to their assigned places to commence Service without recourse that Personnel posted would need ample time to settle at the posted locality. Sadly, personnel who for some reasons are unable to report at their assigned post on time are denied a monthly stipend. It therefore would be expedient that the National Service Secretariat grants a one month leeway (before the official commencement of Service) to enable Personnel ‘settle’ at their new abode.

Again, referencing that the National Service Secretariat (NSS) isn’t obliged to comply with applicant’s preferred choice of Region during posting; it is meaningless that the NSS should give applicants options to select any four preferred regions for posting. If the NSS by mandate isn’t bound to meet the preference of Personnel, then from the moment of application, such fantasies (hope of being posted to a preferred region) must be done away with. Moreover, it is deduced that posting Service Personnel to regions other than their preferred is an indication that the NSS deliberately solicits the opinion of applicants for a contrary posting. It’s thus unsafe that applicants be honest whilst providing information lest they suffer victimization.

Thankful of the recent increment in the 2013/2014 National Service Personnel allowance, the existence of a policy indicating a fixed per/bi annual increment of Service Personnel allowance shall enable personnel to adequately plan their survival over the period of National Service. Many times, Service Personnel undergo horrifying experiences whiles migrating to regions they have been posted to amidst fantasies of increment. That’s unacceptable.

Again, the practice of imposing new Banks on Service Personnel especially those within the Accra Metropolis is a presumed factor that delays payment of National Service Personnel monthly stipend contrary to enhancing efficiency. I appreciate the intention of the Secretariat to: Promote the Banking institutions (judging that they could employ us after completion of the Service, etc.) or grant an avenue for fresh graduates who don’t own bank accounts to own one, etc; the counter-productive effect of this initiative has made it a liability rather than an asset. Few years ago, I am told that National Service Personnel were given the chance to use their existing Bank account(s) as a channel of allowance payment; as a result little difficulty was encountered. Whatever must have compelled the Secretariat to impose Banks on Personnel recently is indeed a subject of research.

In my mind, adopting the previous practice of National Service Personnel using their existing bank account as a means of payment would be ideal referencing that many (Service Personnel) shall abandon these imposed bank accounts after completion of the National Service.

To the National Service Secretariat/Directors, it may be a ‘normal’ practice that National Service Personnel posted to the public sector suffer non-payment of their monthly stipend for an average period of two months. How does the NSS Secretariat expect fresh graduates without any means of financial support to endure economic hardship for an average period of 2 months and at the same time report to work, etc.? Evidently, those at the helm tolerate this practice because after each month, their monthly salary is swiftly paid into their bank account(s).

Service without adequate motivation simply yields pretence. It is incomprehensible that such meagre allowance can’t be paid promptly by the state, spearheaded by the NSS secretariat.

Contrary to the ideals of National Service including inculcating Patriotism and Nationalism, experiences gathered indicates National Service being an avenue to usher Students unto the harsh Ghanaian work environment with a characteristic trait(s) of timidity, terror and a culture of tranquillity amidst horror.

In my mind, the prevalent condition of service for National Service Personnel is a guaranteed indication that Ghana shall for the next century remain a developing country. We must not fail posterity.


Paul Obeng Atiemo
National Service Person at Parliament House (2013/2014)
paulaoben@yahoo.com