National service or national agony?

graceFor some 11 odd years now, I have had my chambers or law offices within the Museum of Science and Technology compound which is opposite the Greater Accra Regional office of the Ghana National Service Scheme, situated at Education Close, Adabraka, Accra.

I have had the misfortune of seeing the deplorable and totally unacceptable conditions of the registration or enrolment centre for National Service in which the youth of our dear nation have to contend with.

Year after year in the months of August and September, the young men and women of qualifying status for National Service convene to register or enrol at this centre.Yet, year after year, nothing seems to have improved about the conditions within which this registration/enrolment is done and certainly the year 2016 has been no exception.

These young men and women stand for hours on end in crowded conditions, at the vagaries of the sun and other weather conditions.As to the existence of other facilities such as toilets,one is left to wonder.

The perplexing question is, must our young men and women go through such agony merely to register or enrol for National Service? What would it cost and would it be out of this world to provide plastic chairs for them? Is it also impossible to provide tents or canopies?

Must all of them converge at the same time? Can this registration not be done serially by numbering or by alphabetical order to prevent overcrowding? Or does the chaotic situation benefit some people?

Can we as a people not do anything that exudes comfort and finesse? Or we just love to see ourselves suffer. We often do not place any value on decency, good taste and decorum while doing things as a people. What we fail to see is that the way people are treated often shows how those people will also subsequently treat and value others.

In providing a little comfort and decent conditions of registration or enrolment, will we not impart a certain level of self-respect and strive to attain quality standards in these young people?

Are we not teaching our young people to learn low standards and inferior ways of doing things? Elsewhere on this planet even cattle being led to slaughter are kept in better conditions than what persists in the registration or enrolment centre. Surely, we must raise ignorance from its native darkness and hasten quickly into a state of enlightenment and progress.

Can’t the management of the National Service Scheme plan ahead as they have a 12-month or so notice period as to when the next years’ rounds of registration would start? We are in the 21st century and frankly such a neanderthal manner of registration or enrolment cannot be allowed to persist any longer; it is unbefitting of us as a people.

The most basic of necessities must be provided. There must be proper seating, there must be shade or protection from weather, there must be toilet facilities and the like.

Even as I write this piece, I am painfully aware that come next year nothing would have changed or some rejoinder proffering some weak or lame excuse will be put out by management of the National Service Scheme. My heart grieves for the youth of this country who are gradually being taught that mediocrity, lack of foresight and low standards are a way of life and a way to live.

The writer is a practising Barrister and Solicitor and a member of the Ghana Bar Association and the Bar of England and Wales


By Patrick A. Sarpong