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Opinions of Thursday, 25 August 2011

Columnist: Amadu, Umaru Sanda

What Next After National Sufering

Umaru Sanda Amadu (www.umarusco.blogspot.com)

A friend started the countdown to the end of the National Service as early as three months. The act is probably to psyche the mind in readiness for a possible long-term joblessness. And that countdown, whether conscious or unconscious, has been taking place through the minds of the over 53 000 Service Personnel scattered across the country.

These were people, most of whom were very angered by the whole idea of traveling miles away from home to serve in an only-God-knows community. But willy-nilly, they went for the posting and were feeling at home at these places which in most cases, becomes those individuals’ first ever encounter with the semblance of a job.

Some were given high positions in those organizations. Some were made to perform tasks comparable to the employees of the organization or more.
The allowance that comes along with it is meager but it is enough to make ends meet in some cases, for a whole family of the individual. In some cases, the service personnel also receive packages meant for regular workers of these organizations. There was work and happiness.
That individual becomes the central consulting point for all family matters. That fellow can now eat his wish, go to party and even have his mobile phone loaded with credit enough to browse and chat with friends for long hours.
But then, it all ends abruptly.
That’s dismissal, if you want. And mind you, you have no ex-gratia from where you can launch your new hunt for employment. If you hadn’t saved a penny during the ten months or so because you used the allowance given you to enrich your diet or you used it for transportation and other businesses in the interest of your new organization, you will get disappointed at the end of the day because you won’t even get a token as a take-away.
This situation can be likened to the saying, “from grass to grace and back”. Many a friend I have spoken to after the National Suffering are “broke”. Many cannot even afford transportation to institutions to submit application letters and those institutions are now flooded with these letters.
Co-incidentally, this crop of National Service Graduates are “fortunate” because it is in their tenure that the first Unemployed Graduates Association of Ghana was formed and whether directly or indirectly, many will be registered into that Association-perhaps, for a long time.
My point? Why let me taste sweetness but just for a few months and take it back? Couldn’t the National Service Scheme strike a deal with whichever organizations that engaged these persons for service to continue with them until they get employment elsewhere?
Do we know the fate of the army of persons spilled into the society who are job hunting?-any job?
At a time when even the sector minister is clueless as to the number of unemployed in the country, this new crop of unemployed graduates will just be a teaspoonful addition to the mighty ocean of unemployed.
The devil finds work for the idle hand but mind you, this work description is not defined. It could be anything just to keep a person busy. This could include despicable employment too.
The National Service Secretariat cannot force organizations to employ people. But personnel of the service have over the years proved useful in the sectors they have been posted to. Some, more useful than even those employed by those organizations.
Last year alone, the Ghana National Service Secretariat deployed 53, 420 personnel to support the nation’s Agriculture, Education, Health, Local Government and the Private Sector. Their contribution to those sectors cannot be under-estimated.
I believe with the experience garnered after one year of service, it will be prudent to let a service personnel continue teaching in those impoverished schools (at their choice of course) than inflicting those pupils with a new un-experienced person.
The situation could be different in private organizations but I believe with the human resource the NSS commands, striking a bargain for personnel to be retained after service based on merits will be more than attainable.
Mind you, there are people who resigned their posts to serve with the NSS because they were not allowed to do the service with the same organization. Others turned down job offers to serve the NSS because they saw it as a national obligation.
How many of these are guaranteed the jobs they turned down after they complete the service?
Many will have to start from scratch and this is not good enough considering the number of application letters drooling before Human Resource persons in offices nationwide at this peak time.
And there will be more service personnel this year. It’s a routine. They will go. And they will come back.
Empty handed.
I only hope this year’s postings will not be frost with many challenges like the previous ones as highlighted in my article last year on the subject.
Meanwhile, last year’s batch is in continuous search for jobs which for now remain as elusive as ever.
That, is the icing on the cake of the Kuagbenu-led “National Suffering Scheme”.
Over to you, sir.