One hundred thousand jobs for the teeming graduates of this country? After you’ve given as many as about 1.1 million youth jobs in just some 15 months? Wow! Too good to be true in our settings! But, entirely impossible in any setting?
Absolutely not; not even in our own setting. If there’s indeed the will to get 100,000 men and women jobs within a single calendar year, we can; yes, we can. Nonetheless, it comes easy not; nowhere on earth does that come easy. Those who have created massive job avenues in contemporary history, such as William Jefferson Blythe Clinton, Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, Xi Jinping, Lee Kuan Yew, Kim Jong Il and Paul Kegame all sweated it out. It takes critical examination of the unemployment situation to find out whether the mass unemployment is as a result of people not having the requisite skills, shunning available crude jobs but yearning for non-existent white-colour jobs, or, that the job avenues are simply unavailable.
To be able to provide sustainable jobs, you need to diagnose the causes of the failures of the Ghana National Reconstruction Corps; Operation Feed Yourself and Your Industries; People’s Farms; President’s Special Initiatives on Cassava Starch, Oil Palm, Salt, Garments etc.,; National Youth Employment Programme; Youth Enterprise Support and the rest before this your new endeavour. In that connection, you are likely to learn the need to be realistic, if not modest, in the numbers you promise to employ; or you claim to have engaged. If you did that, one of the earliest things to play back in your mind could be deputy Ministers, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa and Mohammed Baba Jamal, trumpeting that their National Democratic Congress government had created 1.6million jobs in less than two years, only for substantive Labour Minister, Enoch Teye Mensah, to come and deny knowledge of such employment avenues. You would next, probably, recall the more than fifty 1-D, 1-F ventures that are yet to take off, even though the timelines for them have passed.
A release making the rounds last Wednesday was to the effect that this government had created 1,096,404 jobs from January 7 of 2017 to March ending of 2018. Planting for Food and Jobs took a whopping 68%, posting the nominal figure of 745,000. Appointments to new and old ministries, the security and other services were also reckoned in this computation, much to the annoyance of the opposition and the critical media. Forestry Commission and Mining posting 19,000 jobs was equally surprising to many, given the supposed mass laying-off of illegal miners and the fact that there are hardly any more trees to harvest today. Well, if people have been recruited for reforestation across country, that is laudable; but, widely published documentaries are needed for confirmation and the public collaboration critical for – not just tree planting – but indeed tree growing.
As a matter of fact, government has some convincing to do, if all or most of its figures are to be taken seriously. The 745,000 work avenues generated at the PFJ section: who and who had previously no jobs, but, took food planting up to make that figure? Were they high school graduates; school dropouts; people idling at the villages; or those already engaged in peasant farming who were capacitated to do more? How is the distribution like? Where can they be found? How did their additional productivity reflect in food and cash crop production? Are we going to export grains, like Acheampong’s OFY enabled us to do in the early 1970s? We need strict proof for the Planting for Food and Jobs claim and, in fact, all the remaining figures. Let us face it; were Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu and his New Patriotic Party in opposition, wouldn’t they be rubbishing similar claims from Dramani Mahama and the National Democratic Congress, just as Haruna Iddrisu and his opposition are currently doing?
The earliest reviewers of George Orwell’s Animal Farm had mistaken the English novelist to be anti-revolutionary and set against the reformation initiated by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on March 8, 1917. But, later examinations would tell that, as a socialist-minded person himself, Mr. Orwell had admired the revolution initially in principle, but grew angst against the graft, cheating and discrimination that blossomed, like weeds, in that revolution. It must be stated in no uncertain terms that Ghana Today is – in principle – all for job creation and for even the idealistic situation where everybody of employment age is gainfully employed. That the column supports the idea of the state (government) directly creating jobs does not mean Ghana Today takes in hook, line and sinker any proposition to create jobs. Fact is, some of the propositions may be unrealistic, idealistic, or campaign promises out of tune with the long-term planning framework fashioned out by the National Development Planning Commission.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Tuesday, launched the much-talked-about Nation Builders’ Corps (NABCO) in Kumasi. Reporting the disclosure yesterday, the pro-government Daily Guide newspaper quoted Nana President as saying “the Nation Builders’ Corps will employ, in this year alone, 100,000 young men and women to assist in the public service sector service delivery needs of our country,” drawing rapturous applause from the crowd. This was an audience at the official launch of the NABCO at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Some elaborations the President is reported to have given were that the 100,000 jobs are coming in “…seven prioritised areas defined as: Educate Ghana; Heal Ghana; Feed Ghana; Revenue Ghana; Digitise Ghana; Enterprise Ghana and Civic Ghana.” What the seven modules will each be doing uniquely is self-evident and need little or no explanation.
As already elucidated, the principle is good; the modules are in catchy phrases and likely to gel with young people holding fanciful ideas and thoughts. We support the idea in principle; but, like has also been cautioned, the devil is always in the details. Unless our president, the apex Committee he’s setting up to see to execution, and everybody put into a position of trust treats this differently from all other Ghana businesses, we will find this a grandiose project that floundered someday. God forbid, though! After you’ve diagnosed as I’ve prescribed above, you need to do the following additional rudiments:
- a) Take no applicant on any sectional reason, but, on the grounds of excellence alone. They must satisfy the basic requirements, none of which should be membership of this or that political party. Yes, regime party supporters are also Ghanaians who need employment; but, you don’t employ them with your party membership in mind: you recruit them if they qualify and show interest in working. b) Supervision, monitoring and continual evaluation are crucial, if this – unlike all others before it – is to be saved from becoming a nine-day wonder. c) While at the monitoring, endeavour to separate absentee corps members from those seriously working at post; blink no eye in sacking lazing and truant members.
- d) It will be suicidal for you to wait till you have a mountain of evidence before you call for a probe into suspected corruption in any, some or all the seven modules. If you investigate and find no iota of truth in a suspicion, you commit no offence; better to err on the side of caution, than to tarry till you are overtaken by events. I’m saying that put before Martin Alamisi Amidu, Cynthia Naa Korshie Lamptey and their Office of Special Prosecutor any suspected malfeasance and let them mercilessly probe the matter for possible prosecution. d) Three years by this time, turn not the NABCO into a party reelection machinery. If you’ve given one million jobs already; if you are going to add 100,000 in seven months; if in the next two to three years, you are going to add even more; discerning Ghanaians who are no doubt in the majority will like to retain you in power.
The Labour Minister, Ignatius Bafuor Awuah, had been explaining, yesterday morning, that the private sector would receive many of the graduates. Good and bad.
This can be a useful innovation with lasting imprints. Just make sure that the authorities don’t post their relations’ wards and TESCON activists to the more lucrative state and private institutions. Just let all the rules work; and, the overwhelming majority of the 100,000 people will be earning their keep while developing the critical experience into the actual job market, or even forming cooperatives to start their own IT, food processing, food chain, private school, online media, business consultancy etc. firms.
…with A. C. Ohene (firstname.lastname@example.org)