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NABCO isn’t only better than nothing: it is better than ‘something’

Isaac Kyei Andoh

Government’s decision to roll out a program to create jobs for at least hundred thousand unemployed graduates at a monthly remuneration Seven Hundred Ghana Cedis has been hailed and condemned by an ever so divided nation.

When dealing with about 30 million individual heads, it is almost impossible to please everyone at the same time regardless of how good the offer is. In Ghana, too good, too bad, almost good receive the same divided reaction as long as it has a political link.

But we have to move on from always looking at issues through the narrow scope of partisan politics and focus on the positives which usually eclipses the negatives.

I have my own issues with the Nation Builders Corp but overall, it’d be very myopic for me to kick against such a lifesaving policy because of I of those issues.

The Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) programme is a government initiative to address graduate unemployment to solve social problems. The focus of the initiative will be solving public service delivery in health, education, agriculture, technology, governance and drive revenue mobilization and collection (nabco.gov.gh)

Seven modules have been created to engage graduate over the three year period of their engagement

Below are the modules and what they represent

Educate Ghana

Focus on STEM and other subjects in primary and secondary schools.

Heal Ghana

Provide healthcare delivery to deprived and rural communities across Ghana.

Feed Ghana

Provide extensive support to farmers across Ghana.

Revenue Ghana

Provide a workforce and minimal technology solution to generate the requisite revenue.

Digitise Ghana

Provide a converging solution to most of the active and latent government programmes and initiatives.

Civic Ghana

Provide some resource base at the District and Constituency level.

Enterprise Ghana

Assist with the effort to industrialise all parts of the country.

With the above seven modules, NABCO will engagement hundred thousand graduates yearly on a three-year contract at a monthly wage of seven hundred Ghana Cedis. The policy in response to the growing graduate unemployment

Being an unemployed graduate can be one of most frustrating experience one can find himself. Security experts have described this phenomenon as a major security threat hanging around our necks as people that if not arrested as soon as possible, will throw the nation into the unimaginable.

Add that to the years of experience required by major organisations as a condition for employment and you know the hopeless situation some of these graduates find themselves in. In view of this, The Nation Builders Corps is therefore a dream come true for hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians.

The hundred thousand who will benefit will be the blessed few of the many unemployed. In fact, a greater portion won’t make the cut though qualified. If a journey of thousand miles begins with a step, then NaBCo could be that step to reducing the thousand miles journey of graduate unemployment if implemented with the efficiency we have been assured of.

Seven Hundred Ghana Cedis Remuneration

A NaBCo worker will be paid Seven Hundred Ghana Cedis at the end of the month over the period of his engagement. There is a chance of future increment but for now, the amount is GHc 700.

Critics claim the amount is too small. I beg to differ though, small and big is very relative and so generalising won’t help and much less so when those making the loudest shout are former government appointees who earned salaries in excess of Ten Thousand Ghana Cedis. If you are a University Graduate who has stayed at home for three years after National Service, any job is a lifeline and a considerable step forward from your current position. That is zero to something and that’s progress.

To put the amount into proper perspective, there are many tellers earning less than that amount. I personally spoke to a few when this came up and I am yet to come across a teller who works for Banks through Employment Agencies earning more than a Thousand Ghana Cedis. I met one of our biggest banks receiving Six Hundred Ghana Cedis. She goes to work with her mum’s car so you’d be forgiven to think she is paid so well. This lady has a Second Degree but is employed on her first degree. This is an issue will explore later because clearly, Banks are collaborating with these employment agencies to underpay their tellers.

The point is that there are people earning considerably less than that amount in corporate Ghana. Don’t be deceived by their flashy looks, most of them have empty Bank Accounts despite working at the Bank.

Indeed, Seven Hundred Ghana Cedis is not an ideal money for a graduate in this country taking into consideration the standard of living but many earn less and still survive. In view of this, those who didn’t die from earning nothing in years won’t die earning this amount until they find another job.

Recently, I recommended a lady who holds a Degree in HR and a Diploma in Business Studies for employment, she pegged her salary expectation at Six Hundred Ghana Cedis. Her current job, where she serves as a teacher and Head Teacher at the same time pays her Two Hundred and Fifty Ghana Cedis. To her, Six Hundred Cedis is more than a double of what she currently earns and that is progress. If you earn nothing, anything is better. NABCO though isn’t just better than nothing, it is better than something. It is better than the amount some Bank Tellers earn, it is better than the amount many Nurses in private hospital earn and far better than what some private schools pay their graduate teachers.

Concerns of Nurse

The concerns of Nurse cannot be ignored. They have been pampered for years for political gain and no one is as guilty as Nana Addo’s NPP while in opposition. When Mahama removed the Trainee Allowance, it was a good decision but was exploited for political gain by Nana. When power was won, the allowance was restored but the bonding system was removed. Government after entangling himself with the bill of training nurse decided to free himself from the burden of automatically and compulsorily absorbing them into the Health Sector.

In view of this, the average Nurse suspects that government through NABCO is looking for a smart way of engaging them for less. The question they are asking is: if there is room for more Nurses, why not engage those we have unemployed permanently?

This is a question graduate going to the other sectors could equally have asked but they went to school knowing that it is their responsibility to look for jobs after school. When one government delays the employment of Nurses and Teachers, the opposition doesn’t hesitate to score political points out of it. In view of this, the government has a duty to answer the Nurse.

I don’t blame nurses and teachers for their sense of entitlement to jobs, they have long been targets for votes. They are promised heaven by the party in position and left in hell when they buy it.

I am however happy for the private nurse. They might get to work in the field they trained and at a not so unreasonable monthly remuneration. One man’s poison is indeed another man’s meat.

My concerns

NaBCo could have been a program under the Youth Enterprise Agency (YEA) with all the engagement details without breaching the Youth Employment Act 2015 (Act 887). Getting a new office, a new director and a dedicated Administrative Staff is just a waste of money and more jobs for the boys as typical with this government. It is also a strategy to increase the achievement of this government for electioneering purposes.

The explanation that YEA deals with non-graduate is quite weak because their legal mandate is to engage youths irrespective of their educational background.

What is the exit plan?

After three years, the Hundred Thousand NABCO employees will come out with three years working experience but as unemployed. Corporate Ghana won’t necessarily go chasing them just because they worked in modules like Educate Ghana, Feed Ghana, Revenue Ghana or what have you.

The idea that once they have three years working experience through NABCO employees will come calling is not as simplistic as we make it appear. The current available jobs are oversubscribed by experience people who are unemployed. In view of this, unemployed graduates don’t only need experience, the jobs should be available to absorb them. This is where the real task and how this government job creation performance will be assessed

The only way sustainable jobs can be created is for the economy to grow and roadblocks to establishing a business are removed. A young person who wants to start a business in food production has a tall and expensive criterion to meet before FDA gives him a license. That alone has killed many potential job creators and added them to the list of job seekers.

Two years ago, I started something similar to Koko King but had to fold up because I couldn’t afford the cost of getting FDA and Standard Board’s approval. I might have created at least a couple of jobs if there existed a special system to help me navigate this barrier. Many young people are faced with similar challenges.

NaBCo, in this case, is a smart way government has found to share part of TAX payers’ money between hundred thousand graduates under the guise of a job. Yes, there may be a lot of jobs to be done but the truth is that many government workers are not really working. Many national service personals are just running errands for senior staffs in the institutions they are posted. The point is that government is already paying people for no work done who can easily be pushed into the areas NaBCo seeks to augment but the current approach has been adopted to wither the stop and minimize the threats of graduate unemployment.

I am all for NaBCo but we need a plan. At this time when Banks are resorting to machines for major banking services, when MTN is smartly replacing Mobile Money vendors with machines, we need a plan that can create real jobs for persons from all walks of lives because the life of the hundred thousand graduate won’t end in three years’ time.

This is why the economy and helping the private sector’s growth is key and cannot be overlooked. Governments should in this era be focussed on revenue generation and helping private businesses grow than increasing the number of people on its payroll because that slows development.

Also, more lights need to be thrown on how the policy is going to be implemented. Is government going to employ hundred thousand graduates every year or the first batch will be replaced after the expiration of their three-year contract? If it is an annual affair, then it means that after 10 years, the program would have laid off seven hundred thousand people back into the pool of unemployed. If it is a three-year affair, then my question is: what happens to graduates who completed last year and those set to finish their service this year? We need answers to be clear in our minds.

The Politics

NDC wouldn’t like it because NPP wouldn’t have liked it if this idea was birthed by Mahama. This is just what it is with our politics. My only concern is with the ordinary Ghanaian who still allow these ‘extraordinary Ghanaians’ to fool them. In 2016 when the NPP was busily telling the whole world that NHIS had collapsed, their MPs were registering constituents on the scheme to win votes in the elections.

Politicians are people who cry of hunger even at a buffet because it is the language voters have proven to decode so easily without further explanation. Hypocrisy is the hallmark of our politics and both parties are proudly guilty.

To you reading this with the unfortunate unemployed tag hanging on your neck, what you need to know is that 700 Ghana Cedis may be more than what the company currently reading your CV is willing to offer

In October 2004 when I got my first job as a teacher, I was paid thirty Ghana Cedis a month, gate fee to Boomerang then was around Twenty Ghana Cedis

You just be home, jobless and do politics with this policy in your torn boxer shorts.

isaackyeiandoh@yahoo.com

About Efo Korsi Senyo

Efo Korsi Senyo has over 4 years experience working as investigative journalist with Awake Africa. He is the Head of Awake Investigates. Connect with him via senyo@awakeafrica.com or WhatsApp: +233249155003

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