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From my Rooftop:The stampede at Graphic

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

As home to the nation’s top brands in the newspaper industry, the company is never lack of tourists who are regular visitors to its premises.  Individuals, students, social groups, church organisations and corporate executives on a near daily basis, pay regular visits to the premises of the Graphic Communications Group Limited to acquaint themselves with its operations and for sure, to attract free publicity.

On Monday, January 14, 2013, as I approached the main gate, I could see quite a sizeable number of young men and women at the main entrance.  I was not  in the least surprised, since they could easily pass for students on a facility tour.

By noon when I came out of the office, the gate, spilling over to the access road, was still jammed with the young men and women, so this time out of curiosity, I inquired what was going on. Then I was told that what I thought were tourists were young graduates that were responding to a job advert placed in the Daily Graphic. 

I was alarmed and my fear was that some of these scam people were in to pull a fast one on our children who are desperate for jobs.  For I could not understand how one advert could attract so many people, otherwise the jobs must have tantalising remuneration packages, including travels outside to where the pastures are evergreen.

 However, my fears were allayed when I was told that the advert was placed by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), on behalf of its Customs Division, for which the company was acting as an agent in the collection of completed application letters.

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The number became bigger the following day, Tuesday, January 15, 2013, which was the closing day. Desperation and apprehension was visible on their faces as the young men and women jostled for space to drop their applications in a box that was provided for the purpose outside the main gate in their determination to beat the deadline.

A top official of the Customs Division of GRA who confided in me somehow said he was aware the service was trying to recruit about 200 young graduates in both the senior and junior categories.  This did not come near the over 10,000 applications that were channelled through the Graphic Communications Group in Accra alone.

There were credible information that other applicants dropped their documents in the regions while others channelled theirs through other media houses as specified by the advertiser.  At the end of the day, we should not be surprised if the applications are more than 20,000 countrywide.

At the same time that the young graduates were struggling for the limited vacancy at the Customs Division of the GRA, another group or possibly the same set was queuing at various post offices across the country to purchase forms for recruitment into the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS).

An official of the GNFS said the service had targeted to recruit 1,000 people but put on sale 20,000 forms which became hot commodities all over the country.

Sincerely speaking, even though unfortunate it may sound, the Ghana National Fire Service is one of those public establishments that had never held any serious attraction to many young graduates.  The reason may lie in the tedious nature of the job, which does not offer attractive remuneration.

An Igbo proverb says if you see a toad in the day time, it means something is after its life.  The mad rush of our young graduates for limited jobs could only offer one reason – the joblessness and hopelessness  that have engulfed the youth front.

This is no propaganda and the signals are clear. It is a timely warning to our leaders if in the past they have toyed with the idea or attributing it to political machinations of their opponents. Youth or graduate unemployment is real and the earlier we acknowledge it and seek remedies, the better.

I am sure if anybody were to advertise for recruits into a private army, the response would be the same as seen in the two instances mentioned here. It means the country is sitting on a time bomb ready to explode at the least opportunity and the consequences would not be pleasant for the country.

A proverb says the devil makes work for idle hands: If these hundreds of thousands of young school leavers with talents are left unutilised, God knows when the devil will find something for their creative minds and physical strength.

Our productive sector is very weak, rendering everybody a distributor of some fancy product from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea or even Palestine, where catapults are imported from for the local market.

It is time we moved quickly from producers and exporters of raw materials to an industrialised country where our raw materials are given value for export.  Our resources seem unlimited.  We are still missing strong leadership that could carry the nation along the path of national development, harnessing to the fullest, these resources.

No country has ever succeeded in giving full employment to its population. But in a situation where economic growth has no bearing on population growth, one should not expect anything but a situation where hundreds of thousands of young and energetic men and women would be chasing a few jobs, some having no relevance to their talents and skills.

We’ve just installed a young and energetic President in the person of John Mahama who promises to bring some urgency and vibrancy into our political leadership.  This is a big challenge to him and his lieutenants.

Article by Kofi Akordor

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