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Opinions of Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi

Pensioners Who Have Served Ghana Deserve Better

Public Sector Pensioners Who Have Served Ghana Deserve Better In The Evening Of Their Lives

By Kofi Thompson

At some point, we all have to retire from active work - particularly if we serve the Ghanaian nation-state and reach the statutory retirement age.

It is fitting and proper that as a nation we have decided that the president, his ministers and Ghana's legislators - amongst others in a select group of those who serve our nation in the three branches of government - must be allowed to retire on generous retirement packages.

That is as it should be. Those in positions of responsibility who serve Mother Ghana honestly and diligently, protecting the national interest, must know that at the end of their stewardship, they will be well taken care of by the people of Ghana and the Ghanaian nation-state.

There are also those pensioners who served their country faithfully away from the spotlight, in various capacities in the public sector, who deserve the gratitude of Ghanaians and the Republic of Ghana too, for their hard work serving the public day in day out, five days a week, without fail, during their working lives: on active duty for our homeland Ghana.

By and large the public servants who deal with pensioners show empathy in serving them. And such professionals are to be commended.

I have had to interact with those hard-working public servants recently, as I have endeavoured to help an 86-year old pensioner, who is trying to rectify an anomaly in her pension benefit payment.

I was mostly impressed by the efficiency of the treasury officers of the Accountant General's Department that I dealt with.

However, I was also appalled by the callousness of a few of those I encountered there, and in the Ministry of Health. I shall neither mention their names nor where exactly they work, but there's no doubt that such public sector employees need to undergo some re-orientation urgently.

They do great harm to those vulnerable pensioners they deal with in their work - elderly men and women who served Ghana so diligently for decades before retiring and who are now in the evening of their lives.

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Post Script

Finally, dear reader, it would be an egregious example of ingratitude on my part, if one ended this piece without mentioning the humanity shown by the following: the Minister of Health, the Hon. Alban Bagbin; Dr. Appiah-Denkyira (Director, Human Resource Division, Ministry of Health) and his colleagues as well as their secretariat; Mr. Bruce (a retired Chief Petty Officer Class1, Ghana Navy) and Mr Lartey (retired Chief Petty Officer Class11, Ghana Navy) both of the Pensioners Association; the Registrar and staff of the Nurses and Midwives Council.

They are all extraordinary individuals serving our country, who when they did not have to, still went out of their way to try and help end the nightmare of an 86-year old retired public servant.

That remarkable retired nurse-administrator, left a legacy of innovation and high standards, throughout her distinguished nursing career.

Paid a pension two steps below her retiring rank heading a Ministry of Health statutory body, the Nurses and Midwives Council as Registrar since 1983, today, even at her age, she is doing what old Achimotans know best: fighting injustice.

The difference this time for her, is that she is not fighting to make improvements in the conditions of service for nurses and seeking their welfare, but fighting to obtain what is due her: so that others who come after her, don't have to suffer what she has been and is going through. Its a matter of principle for her - and to that I say bravo Nana Abakomahemaa! Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone from Vodafone