This follows growing calls for some of restructuring of the Scheme after it was hit by a corruption scandal which saw a total of GH¢7.9 million paid to over 20,000 “ghost names” in more than 100 districts of the embattled scheme.
The rot which is believed to be deeply permeated and nationwide was uncovered by the Bureau of National Investigations leading to the Scheme’s management being dissolved after 23 directors including the Executive Director, Alhaji Imoro Alhassan, allegedly paid bribes totalling GH¢200,000 to investigators to kill the story.
But Sydney Casely Hayford believes this investigation into activities of the NSS is long overdue.
The President of the National Service Personnel Association had earlier in an interview with Live News, called for the complete overhaul of the scheme’s management and board.
“Why is it that this is the only time these revelations are coming out, it means that there is a mystery somewhere, someone wasn’t satisfied with probably a booty so let me bring the cat out, So we are feeling that there should be an over haul of the system, the scheme management of the headquarters, everybody should be allowed to step aside because it is a dent on the reputation of this government,” Vincent Ekow Assifuah said.
However speaking to Live News’ Ekow Annan, Mr Hayford said the scheme which ensures that Ghanaian students who graduate from accredited tertiary institutions are enjoined by law to do a one year national service to the country has outlived its importance.
“The National Service has outlived its usefulness a long time ago. If you even look at what it was supposed to do. They were supposed to go into farming, into teaching. Look at all the opportunities that were there…..You go there now, nobody knows the output that is generating from all of those farms, nobody knows what is happening to all the produce, the maize and all that they are farming. Nobody knows where it ends up, whether it is sold and what happens to the money and how it gets fed back(to the public purse). I have not seen a report on the National Service Secretariat showing what revenue they get and how they expend it,” he said.
Mr Hayford further urged government to extend the arm of investigation to other public agencies under the Ministry of Education since they equally saddled with similar corruption acts.
“Look the National Service is spread across the country and it is not the only place, there are several other things there in the Ministry of Education that really need to be taken up. We need to look at WAEC, we need to look at Scholarship Secretariat, we need to look at the Placement scheme into secondary schools all of those things have got corruption traits,” he added.
It was gathered during investigations by the BNI that the NSS, every January, sends letters to all tertiary institutions to submit the names of all final-year students to it, so that it could plan and undertake effective posting of students later in the year.
After all prospective service personnel have been registered, a list of final-year students who did not register to do National Service because they had either done their service or travelled abroad was compiled by the NSS and identification numbers generated for them.
In order to make it difficult for the scam to be detected, a source close to the BNI told Live News that the ‘ghosts’ were usually posted to remote rural communities and, in some cases, non-existent institutions.
Though investigations have not been concluded, about 22,612 ghost names have so far been unearthed, the source said.
At the current monthly allowance of Ghc350 per a service person, that meant that at least Ghc7, 914, 200 was lost to the state every month.
Annually, about Ghc94, 970, 400 in undeserved allowances is lost to the state. The scamming syndicate is also believed to be made up of National Service directors in the districts and most managers of banks where NSS allowances are lodged.