The Ag Executive Director of the National Service Scheme, Ussif Mustapha has rightly apologized to prospective national service personnel who suffered avoidable manhandling by security details deployed to the registration centres on Monday.
Reports of chaos at some of the centres made disturbing reading. It was good the Executive Director embarked on a tour of the registration centres to see for himself what was going on. It was his debut service personnel posting assignment since he assumed the leadership of the NSS.
We believe that he is learning a lot about managing the scheme; lessons which would come in handy in his future assignments at the helm of this all-important state institution.
He has exhibited sufficient interest in moving the NSS forward and so it is our prayer that he achieves this goal which would definitely be in the interest of the country.
What happened at the registration centres, we believe, was restricted to the Greater Accra Region but in spite of this restrictiveness it makes, unfortunately and expectedly, negative headlines especially at the hands of propagandists.
While the security personnel should have been civil in their management of the situation, the registrants too should have been courteous and orderly as they waited for their turns to be served.
The disorderly behavior of the registrants did not warrant the heavy-handed response from the military personnel and cops deployed to the locations anyway.
We think that in future such deployment should be preceded by critical briefing of the security personnel on the importance of civility in such matters. It was unfortunate that the crude response threatened to negatively impact on the image of the NSS especially its indefatigable Executive Secretary.
Soldiers and policemen deployed for such missions should understand that they are dealing with very young persons whose youthful exuberance should be appreciated and managed accordingly. Beating and generally assaulting them the way it was reported and in the fashion of the 80s did not portray the soldiers and by extension the NSS in good light.
It is against this backdrop that we find the show of remorse by the Executive Director appropriate and nerve-calming.
Crowd-management does not imply behaving like beasts as some of the security personnel conducted themselves. This we would condemn with all our might and ask that such persons are unfit for missions in civilian environments.
We believe that the Executive Director would review such deployments in future especially since its mismanagement is a potential threat to his hard-won image.
We wonder whether a relevant software cannot be unearthed to avoid the inconvenience of standing for hours on end waiting to register to serve under the NSS.
The IT world has solutions to varied challenges including the one under review. It is our belief therefore that when the NSS engages IT consultants to find out how to avoid such long queues and its accompanying challenges it would not be long for us to say adieu to this antiquated approach to registrations.
If our tertiary institutions have successfully adopted the online approach to many of the pre-admission procedures for students, we think the NSS can do likewise.