I read with admiration a news item on ghanaweb authored by one Kofi Poku, a Freelance Journalist on a purported interference by Mr. Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong, in the affairs of Narcotics Control Board.
Anyone who has encountered the man Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong can only think of success. From a distant, I monitored him and sometimes wished I worked directly under him. The man is an epitome of hard work, commitment, success and whatever virtue you can think of. This is not to say that he is without fault as that will be an exaggeration. However, for the author of the said article to have written all that about him in his write-up was quiet unfortunate.
I disagreed with Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong on a number of issues and he almost dismissed me at a point in time but I will be kind in my write up and leave the conclusion to the discerning reader to make. I will attempt to tackle most of the issues raised in the interview granted Kofi Poku.
TABLE “TOP/TOP-UP ALLOWANCES
In 2008, the salaries of staff of NACOB were so low that one of the most Senior Management Staff at the time likened it to the salary of garbage collectors. In fact he noted in his article that the salaries of garbage collectors were much higher than staff of NACOB. Indeed it was true. Those were the days when travelers at the airport would give you a tip that was even more than your monthly salary. Hard times indeed!! At least because I was a married woman, I relied a little on my husband but same could not be said of my male colleagues. Between 2001 and 2008, there was nothing like "table-top" allowance or "top-up" as some people will like to refer to it. Was it even paid on the 15th of each month? It is surprising how people cook stories and make them seem so real? At the time the "top-up" was cancelled, Mr. Torkornoo, whom the writer sought to denigrate, was a Director for Demand Reduction. How can a Director in charge of Demand Reduction mastermind the cancellation of â€œtop-Upâ€ when there was a Director for Finance and Administration at the time in the person of Mr. Michael Addo? Letâ€™s leave that for discussion on another platform
In 2009 when Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong was appointed Ag. Executive Secretary, he was of the view that the salaries of staff were too low. Indeed the salaries were too low. I used to go to the bank only once in a month because there was nothing left after a visit to the bank. Those were the times when some banks had blacklisted staff of the Board from accessing loans. Yes it was that bad if you care to know. The same Akrasi-Sarpong whom the writer sought to make all of us believe was a bad leader made a justification to the then President, H.E JEA Mills of blessed memory for some "table-top" allowances to cushion staff pending the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure. These "table-top" allowances were released as part of the subvention for each month and paid to staff. When the SSSS of NACOB was rolled out, it was still bad and nothing to write home about. The same Akrasi-Sarpong fought hard and got the salaries of Staff of NACOB to be aligned on levels equivalent to those of Security and Intelligence Agencies. This lead to a salary increment of between 800%-1000%. Yes I mean 800-1000%. It is the same Akrasi-Sarpong we are talking about.
The reasoning behind the payment of â€œtable-topâ€ allowances as we were made to believe was low salaries. With a new salary scale that led to between 800 and1000% salary increment; the Ministry of Finance withdrew the â€œtable-topâ€ allowances. In effect, it was neither Akrasi-Sarpong nor Torkornoo who called for the withdrawal but it was the Ministry of Finance that stopped the payment. It is interesting to note how anybody will think that a Director for Demand Reduction will walk to the Ministry of Finance and cancel a â€œtable-topâ€ allowance. Where was the Director for Finance and Administration? I do not want to believe he was incompetent. The NACOB salary structure is among the best salary structures in this country and that credit goes to Mr. Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong. Fortunately he is on retirement now and those granting interviews to Freelance Journalists should direct their energies and competence at lobbying the government for a restoration of â€œtable-topâ€ allowances for staff of NACOB. We all stand to benefit.
RETIREMENT AND HANDING-OVER
People should learn to appreciate others for their good deeds and not destroy them. Throughout his career, he had always maintained that he will retire at the age of sixty and indeed he retired at sixty. The very lazy and indiscipline ones were happy and full of joy because they could now go ahead and misbehave. Akrasi-Sarpong was not a military man but he had the discipline of a Military Officer and will not allow the lazy and the indiscipline to have their way. I will want to believe that is the reason why some people are trying to demonize Mr. Francis Kofi Torkornoo. Why will anyone conclude that if you make Torkornoo an Executive Secretary, he will collapse NACOB? I want to believe that these are people who are aware that the man Torkornoo will not entertain their â€œnonsensesâ€ and will ensure that the right thing was done at any point in time.
To ensure continuity, it is important that people are mentored to take up the mantle of leadership. My understanding from the little I have gathered is that before going on retirement, Mr. Yaw Akrasi-Sarpong was requested by the then Minister for Interior to hand-over to the most senior NACOB Staff at the time. Many have wondered why he did not hand-over to Mr. Blankson, the then Deputy Executive Secretary. Truth be told and it's hard to take. Mr. Blankson was not and has never been a NACOB staff. HE was on secondment from National Security and at the time Mr. Akrasi-Sarpong was going on retirement, Blankson was on contract. An instruction to hand over to the most senior NACOB staff cannot mean hand-over to Blankson. I will want to believe that if the Ministry at the time recognized the position of Mr. Blankson, they would have asked Mr. Akrasi-Sarpong to handover to him. The arrangement was for Mr Akrasi-Sarpong to handover to the most Senior NACOB officer and for Mr. Blankson to act as Technical Advisor pending the expiration of his contract in May, 2017. As to why the same Blankson will go back and get the Ministry to reverse its earlier decision, I cannot understand and as to why some lazy staff will grant a dubious interview and make the whole arrangement of handing over to the most senior NACOB officer look evil and alien, only God Knows.
I shall return.
Selina Adjetey Addo
Citizen not a Spectator