THE CLAIM by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration has bloated the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) with ghost names has been debunked by the former boss of the programme.
, former National Coordinator of the NYEP, in a swift rebuttal to the image damaging story, indicated that the processes of appointment to the programme and payment of salaries to staff were so stringent that it was extremely difficult to keep ghost names on record for payment of their allowances.
The NYEP was a major policy initiative by the John Agyekum Kufuor- administration to serve as a source of stop-gap employment to the teeming unemployed youth in the country and had indeed engaged thousands of young men and women in crucial segments of the economy including the health sector, teaching, community sanitation and community protection, popularly called Kufuor Police which is under the Ghana Police Service.
However, upon taking over the NYEP, the NDC reportedly claimed that about 5,000 ghost names had been detected in the programme, based on a recent head count which was supposedly conducted in the districts.
The claim had since set tongues wagging as political connoisseurs believe it could be a propagandist ploy to dismiss thousands of workers of the NYEP suspected to be supporters of the previous NPP administration to be replaced with sympathizers of the ruling party.
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE, the former National Coordinator of the Programme and Member of Parliament for Chiana/Paga in the Upper East Region, Leo Kabah, said if the NDC administration wanted to lay-off some of the workers, it should be made clear, but to suggest that thousands of ghost names had been included in the programme was grossly erroneous.
Hon. Leo Kabah pointed out that when he was the National Coordinator of the NYEP, a series of head counts were conducted and occasionally, some of the workers might have absent.
He however indicated that the mere absence of the workers at a point in time when the head count was conducted did not amount to ghost names, as these workers might not have been informed early enough to be present, or their organisation were not given enough notice to make their employees available for the counting.
Again, it could be possible the workers might have vacated their post at the time of the head count as some could have acquired different appointments elsewhere whilst others abandoned the NYEP programme because salaries were not regular and they got frustrated.
He further pointed out that for all those who work under the Civil Service Regulation, any person who absents himself from work consecutively for 10 days is deemed to have vacated his post.
“I would rather have been thinking that may be 5,000 employees of the NYEP vacated their post rather than being ghost names under the programme,” Hon. Leo Kabah intimated, emphasizing that it would be disingenuous to suggest that all these people, if indeed were absent, were ghost names.
The possibility of employees vacating their post, he expatiated, could even have been occasioned by negative political campaign about the NYEP during last year's elections as people were not sure about the continuity of the programme.
Explaining the processes of recruitment of staff into the programme and payment of their salaries, Hon. Leo Kabah said all those who were appointed reported to their various places of work at districts with letters of assumption of duty.
“We got these letters of assumption of duty as to when they reported and it was based on these letters of assumption of duty that their names were then incorporated into the pay roll,” he stated, adding that the workers were issued with NYEP ID cards bearing their names and places of work or work schedule, which they used to conduct all business relating to the programme.
He indicated that on a daily basis, these employees reported to their supervisors at their various places of work, and the Heads of Departments of these organisations monitored their work and reported to the District Employment Coordinators, who from time to time checked whether all the employees were actually at post or not.
On payment of salaries, Hon. Leo Kabah indicated the each worker opened an account in various banks after going through vigorous processes of filling forms with the NYEP ID Cards.
He indicated that at the end of every month, the District Employment Coordinators sent the list of all the workers to the Headquarters of the NYEP and before any employee collected his or her pay, he or she had to personally produce their ID cards at the bank and these were cross-checked before payments were made.
“It would therefore have been very difficult to keep ghost names for their salaries to be paid under NYEP,” Leo Kabah stated, disclosing that salaries for all employees who were not available at the APEX rural banks or other banks were sent back to the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), which was the dispensing bank for the programme.
By Awudu Mahama