It was something that one of the world’s renowned scientists tried looking at. Yes, so I think. But he greatly failed finding answers. It’s elusive. In his own words, Isaac Newton opined that, “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies but not the madness of people.”
Indeed, at the La Dade-Kotopon Municipal Assembly (LaDMA) Annex, opposite the El-Wak Sports Stadium in the Greater Accra Region, was an exhibition of madness by some security personnel― that which Isaac Newton certainly could never have calculated!
Reports had it that on Monday, July 24, 2017, some graduates had queued up for registration into the National Service Scheme’s (NSS) 2017/18 year of placement. Then, when there seemed to be some disorderliness among these prospective national service persons, some police and military officers were brought in to restore calm.
The “Calm Restoration Brigade,” unfortunately, ended up flexing muscles at these prospective national service personnel who were only poised to serve their nation.
On both radio and television, in newspapers and on social media, these security personnel and the NSS have been sternly criticized for their nauseatingly unprofessional conduct. Subsequently, the NSS has released a statement apologizing to those who suffered in the hands of the security personnel.
“Management wishes to state that the incidents are regrettable, therefore, wishes to apologize to all such national service personnel and the general public for the recorded incidents of congestion which led to the manhandling,” read portions of the NSS’ statement.
It added that, “Management has put in place measures to ease the congestion, therefore, wishes to appeal to all national service personnel to remain calm and go through the registration process smoothly.”
Here we are again as a country talking about one particular problem that has been trumpeted an umpteen times. The problem is that the NSS is literally dead in terms of development. The hard truth is that it has been left behind by the world in terms of technology.
During my national service days, 2013/14, one had to go to wherever s/he was posted just to register in order to be considered for placement. This seeming cast-in-stone procedure has had many endure it the hard way. Some are even feared to have lost their lives to road accidents while on their way to register.
So, why does the National Service Scheme still tell prospective personnel to go queue up at its offices for registration? Is there no way an online platform could be built where, at the comfort of one’s home, s/he by a click of a button registers than bustle and hustle in queues?
I am frankly shocked but not too surprised. In my country, Ghana, we major on minor issues and minor in the major. This is a country where things are done, mostly, upside down.
In my own former school, the Ghana Institute of Journalism among many others, applying for admissions online means you go to the school’s website, download the form, print and submit it on the campus. The Passport Office’s so called online registration for passports is as well in this boat of shame.
One is, therefore, not surprised that the National Service Scheme says it does not consider building a platform for its prospective service personnel to register online. There must be a scare crow on the internet appearing to devour the NSS.
With all due respect, at times, I am tempted to ask “if everything is okay” with some of our institutions considering decisions they take.
In 2015, I wrote a commentary for a segment on Radio Ghana’s news called News Commentary. In that piece, I criticized the West African Examination Council (WAEC) for its decision to destroy certificates in its custody dating over 10 years.
My argument was simple. Though WAEC’s reason for decongesting their storage capacities was somewhat laudable, the situation was likely to repeat itself in the next decade.
I, thus, suggested that the examination body stopped printing certificates and should only do so on demand by whoever wanted it. I recommended they get an online platform for such on-demand requests.
Moreover, I saw the policy that compels one to go for his/her certificates in the region in which they wrote their examinations as sickening. Why can’t a person show up at any WAEC office, nationwide, and claim their requested certificates by showing their ID cards?
What happened at the LaDMA Annex on that fateful Monday is something very shameful and must not be repeated. The NSS must by now realize that the uproar by Ghanaians, home and abroad, over its crass incompetence sends a strong warning that a handshake that goes beyond the elbow ceases to be a friendly gesture.
Sit up NSS… for the sleep that last from one market day to the other becomes death. Enough of your dry jokes!
By Solomon Mensah
The writer is a broadcast journalist with 3FM 92.7. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect 3FM’s editorial policy.