The tension in Burma Camp and other Garrisons is gravitating mainly around sabotage by persons (officers, men and civilians) who are very active members and/or sympathizers of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the dethroned regime of John Mahama and the injustices and ill-treatment being meted to other individuals (officers, men and civilian employees) seen or believed to be members and/or sympathizers of the NPP.
The “camps” of NDC and NPP are known in all the Garrisons of the Ghana Armed Forces (namely Accra (5), Tema (1), Takoradi (2), Sunyani (3), Kumasi (4), Tamale (6) and Ho (7)).
Over the years, these individuals have openly identified themselves with the two main parties (especially supporters/members of the NDC) owing to the benefits and recognition that are usually associated with that. Most often, it is during NDC regimes (which are seen as continuity businesses of the Provisional National Defence Council) that the sharp dichotomy is drawn.
Quite often, the NDC officers and men would say and declare that a particular officer, man or civilian employee “is with us or one of us” while declaring another individual officer, man or civilian employee as “not with us” or “with the other side”.
Once such a declaration is made, those regarded as belonging to the NDC are given “special attention and recognition” by way of benefits which may include accelerated promotions, frequent participation in peace support operations, selection for juicy foreign courses, selection for diplomatic duties, selection for key appointments within the ,military and government, selection for membership of Boards and Committees, allocation of vehicles, office and residential accommodation and selection for duties at the Presidency (VVIP Protection) and other strategic places.
The NDC would strictly adhere to its principle of selecting only its core members, sympathizers and supporters for such benefits. The NDC and its supporters go the extra mile of checking on the backgrounds, associations, affiliations, friendships, beliefs and values of every single officer or man before offering or selecting them for “such favours”. Thus, the NDC does proper and detailed due diligence on every individual before positioning them strategically and tactically.
There were several instances during the Mills/Mahama regimes when some individuals were dropped from prepared lists for “such favours” when upon and after several levels of scrutiny by NDC personnel such persons were seen to be politically incorrect.
In other cases, some of the perceived NPP supporters were also regarded as ethnocentrically incorrect. Thus, while majority of the “favoured ones” belonged to the Agbadza and Batakari fraternities, special, deliberate and conscious efforts were made to deny the “Bonwire Kente” fraternities and their associates the favours usually showered on members and supporters of the NDC.
For instance, persons who had been selected for duties at the Castle and Flagstaff House and were reported to have links with the NPP or individuals recognized as NPP members were hurriedly withdrawn or made to return to their units.
In the places of such persons, those agreed on as belonging to the Umbrella fraternity would be selected or appointed. Even though these occurrences were not too many, owing to the vigilance of the NDC, they gained so much notoriety that most officers and men knew and accepted that only core or loyal members of the NDC were to be selected for Operations “CITADEL” and others of extreme or reasonable importance.
These developments and special measures by the NDC have persisted up to and beyond 7th January 2017. Those unwritten policies and conventions of the NDC are still raging on in the Ghana Armed Forces owing to the fact that the same NDC selected persons are still occupying the major decision making levels of the Ghana Armed Forces eight good months after the change in government!!
The situations in the Civil and Military Divisions of the Ministry of Defence are still controlled by and in the hands of the NDC.
Not much has changed after all. Apart from changing the “two main tops” (the Minister and his deputy at the Civil Division of the Ministry of Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff and the Chief of Staff at the Military Division of the Ministry of Defence), it is virtually the same officers as published in the July and November 2016 Military Secretary’s Appointments and Promotions of officers who are running the show.
In some cases, the situations have been worsened by deliberate sabotage by the Gyasensirs and Beick-Baffours.
It is very unfortunate that the Minister of Defence, in particular and the Deputy Minister of Defence, have kept intact the human resource structure as handed over to them by Dr. Benjamin Kumbour. All the principal civilian staff officers at the “Square” have been maintained. The Chief Director who assumed duty in November 2016 and is the darling boy of John Mahama is now surprisingly the “super darling boy” of the Minister of Defence.
All the Directors who are mainly from the two NDC dominant fraternities are at post with more capacity and authority to act and decide for the Civil Division and the Ghana Armed Forces.
The irony of the situation is that, while Dr. Benjamin Kumbour was not in the good books of former President John Mahama (because he belonged to, and justifiably so, the Rawlings camp in the NDC), Mr. Dominic Nitiwul prides himself as a close confidante and loyalist of His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo and yet is unable to liberate himself from the shackles of the NDC.
Again, even though most of the key appointment holders at the Square (Ministry of Defence) were imposed on Dr. Benjamin Kumbour, owing to his intellectual, academic, professional and political experiences, competences, abilities, skills and more matured posture, he was able to contain the situation and exploit it to advantage. Thus, what Dr. Benjamin Kumbour lacked by way of “Presidential Support”, (notwithstanding the fact that he is also a Northerner from the Upper West Region) he compensated for it by his own acumen, prowess, networking, foresight and vision.
The general feeling at the MOD (Square) and in the Ghana Armed Forces was that Dr. Benjamin Kumbour was more effective and helpful to the system than even Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith who was a former Army Commander and was therefore expected to have a better understanding of and sympathy for the system than a “raw civilian”.
But can the same be said of the current crop of Ministers at the MOD? The answer is a big No. The Minister does not have the clout of Dr. Kumbour. His Deputy is not in any better position even though he is a Retired officer and should be more familiar with the “terrain”. The blame may have to be put squarely at the door steps of the Minister who had all the opportunities in this world to select the best from a cream of “Overflowing Availabilities” and yet settled on the mediocres owing, perhaps, to inferiority complex. Instead of going the “Obama way” by selecting more experienced and credible staff, he went the “John Mahama way”.
Firstly, his choice of a Military Assistant was and is wrong and very unhelpful. Secondly, his choice of the Principal General Staff Officer (PGSO) MOD (CD) was and is very wrong. All the military staff officers at the MOD, without any exception, are saboteurs who are active members of the NDC, and will stop at nothing to make the NPP unpopular and unattractive to the military and civilian employees of the Ministry of Defence.
The situation in the Military Division of the MOD is no better. It is sad to report that the Chief of Defence Staff is not in control of affairs. He is grappling with so many challenges and problems because of the NDC dominated Officer Corps that he inherited. The General Headquarters, key positions at the Service Headquarters, Formation Headquarters and the Training Schools are all infested with NDC viruses.
The mistake that has been made by the Brigadier General Okyeres and Sackeys is the wholesale retention and appointment of known NDC treacherous officers into very strategic and sensitive positions. Relying on a Seniority Roll of officers that was deliberately manipulated to suit NDC inclined officers thereby demoting and marginalizing genuinely qualified officers perceived to be NPP members was wrong.
Those who were denied promotions by the Akou-Adjeis and Beick-Baffours should have been leapfrogged to their appropriate positions before any “balancing act” was done. But that was not to be. The Brigadier General Okyeres and Sackeys were and are surprisingly more interested in their church mates (belonging to the same church) Corps mates especially members of the engineer corps and the teeth arms) without necessarily assessing individuals on their own merits which should include loyalty to the NPP Administration and His Excellency, the President of the Republic.
Today, we have persons who openly insulted the person of the President and top NPP members occupying very sensitive appointments and positions in the Ministry of Defence (Military and Civil Division).
Again, we have persons who openly sponsored the NDC with their ill-gotten monies, energies, organizational skills and platforms available to them occupying very important appointments and positions owing to the wrongful and inappropriate pieces of advice by the Brigadier General Okyeres, Sackeys, Kotias, Messieurs Kan Dapaahs, Nitiwuls, Derys and Oduros.
The current inertia in the Ghana Armed Forces is attributable to the wrong choices of command and staff personnel. The anger in the military is growing because of the sabotage by these wrong command and staff personnel. The units lack basic items to operate. There are deliberate shortages of all natures of items and equipment needed for training, administration and operations. Monies which are available are not accessed on time. The Chief of Staff deliberately delays actions on urgent and sensitive matters and issues.
For instance, payments of salaries, allowances and pensionable emoluments are unnecessarily delayed. At the Pensions Section of the Ghana Armed Forces is a female Major of the Agbadza and NDC fraternity, who lacks experience and maturity and yet is occupying the appointment of a Director (Colonel’s appointment).
More experienced and senior officers (Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels) were denied that appointment by the Defence Financial Controller. The Accountant at the Ministry of Defence itself is also another NDC Nyebro.
It is therefore not surprising that the same contractors who were used by the NDC to create, loot and share resources of the Ghana Armed Forces (and thus the State) are still the same and are vigorously in charge of all that they survey. These contractors, who are predominately from the Agbadza and Batakari fraternities with very strong NDC roots, are the ones calling the shots and the Minister is helpless and happy about that. There are more competent, honest and hardworking NPP contractors who could be given these contracts but are being denied because it is more comfortable to do “nasty and dirty business” with the NDC contractors who are used to and understand corrupt businesses.
For the sake of maintaining their businesses, these NDC contractors would be 100% compliant but would expose the NPP when it matters most (such as during elections or after NDC (God forbid) shall have been returned to power). It is very sad to note that huge sums of money (of foreign currencies) are being paid to NDC contractors in respect of peace support operations and projects. There have been instances where there have been duplications in payments to the same or other contractors for the same work or supply of items or for non-performance or non-delivery at all.
Surprisingly, nothing has been done to these NDC contractors but they are still in the “good books” of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). But when you have a Judge Advocate General who is a 100% dyed in wool NDC member, who single-handedly picked lawyers of his choice and NDC roots to man the legal Department at MOD, what do you expect?
These lawyers who are to examine contracts and advice appropriately are not on the side of the NPP. They had done “good business” with the NDC contractors under the NDC government of Mills and Mahama and are therefore extremely eager to protect their interests and not necessarily that of the state.
For very strange reasons, the Legal Directorate of the General Headquarters is no better. The head of that Directorate was surprisingly promoted Brigadier General by Air Marshal Samson-Oje and appointed Special Advisor to the Chief of Defence Staff on Legal Matters. What a superfluity! Already as the Director of Legal Services (DLS) of the Ghana Armed Forces, the appointment holder is the Legal Advisor to the Chief of Defence Staff and the Armed Forces as a whole.
For some strange reasons, most of the Legal Officers at the General Headquarters (both military and civilian) are NDC members and mainly from one particular region. Consequently, whether at the GHQ or MOD level, the value is the same. It is the same NDC politically correct lawyers who are manipulating the system in favour of the NDC and against the interest of the NPP.
Would that not explain why the Minister of Defence has not done and is not doing anything about the Armed Forces bank (Integrity Savings and Loans Company Limited)?
There is no doubt that the incorporation of the Armed Forces Bank was fraught with several inappropriate actions. The pre-incorporation contracts have to be revisited. Is it not surprising that one officer would be the all-in-all “promoter” of the Company performing all the essential services and duties of drawing the business plan, raising the working capital, getting the consent of directors, registering the company and entering into all the pre-incorporation contracts?
Is it also not improper for this same senior officer to retire from the Ghana Armed Forces straight into an appointment of the Bank, created and reserved for himself?
Is it not questionable also to reserve the key positions in the bank for persons from one Region of Ghana who also had their secondary education in one particular school of the same Region of Ghana? Can we not find persons from the other Regions to also work at the Bank?
What about the junior staff of the bank? They are mainly also from the same region…Aaaba! What is happening to our senses?
How can a General whose tenure of office as the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) was brought to an abrupt end under very bizarre circumstances by the John Mahama Administration in 2016 be re-cycled to become the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Armed Forces Bank in 2017 after the NDC had lost power in December 2016? The Board was hurriedly sworn into office during the Transition Period of the handing/taking over between the NDC and NPP Administration and yet the Minister of Defence cannot see any wrong doing or procedural errors associated with the whole formation, operation and management of the Armed Forces Bank.
It is however re-assuring that even Major General SK Adeti (the immediate past Chief of Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces) agrees that everything about the formation, operation and management (which were the exclusive preserve of Brigadier General Adokpa) needs to be revisited to ensure justice, fairness, value for money, transparency and accountability.
As it stands, the former very powerful commissioned NDC officer, who was competing with Major General SK Adeti for promotion to the rank of Major General, has managed to continue to decide the fortunes of thousands of soldiers and civilian employees of the Ghana Armed Forces with impunity. He is hiding behind the cloak of incorporation to exploit the situation to advantage.
We are informed that he has managed to get the Board of the Bank to ratify some of the stinking pre-incorporation contracts to the detriment of the soldiers and civilian employees. All these must be investigated as a matter of urgency now and now.
Honourable Minster of Defence, please do you hear that? Please, Minister, go beyond marital affiliations and protect our national interests and those of the troops and civilians.
As the situation remains, the “NDC people” are mocking the “NPP people” who raised very pertinent issues about the bank. This matter cannot and should not be left to rest just like that. The Anthony Ntems, Kofi Adorkors and others should not be allowed to use their links with the wife of the Minister of Defence to deny the good people of the Armed Forces justice and real time value and returns on their investments. Any betrayal of the interests of the troops and civilians by the Minister may have dire consequences for the NPP in future elections.
Already, most NPP supporters, sympathizers and members in the Ghana Armed Forces and Security Services are losing hope. They have become disappointed, discontent, disillusioned, despondent and helpless about the current situation.
Members of the Patriotic Concerned Officers and Men (PACOM) are fuming with anger over the role being played by Colonel Vander-Pallen, the Director Military Records (DMR) and some members of the Directorate of Military Records. For some strange reasons, Colonel Vander-Pallen and some confidantes of his at the Directorate of Military Records were made to hijack the recruitment and enlistment exercises of the Ghana Armed Forces during the Mahama Administration of the NDC, especially in the 2015 and 2016 exercises.
Instead of acting on instructions of the Directorate of Manpower Planning (DMP) and General Headquarters (Personnel Administration), the DMR rather controlled the processes and decided on who got shortlisted to the various stages and processes of the recruitment exercises.
For instance, it was Colonel Vander-Pallen who decided on which applicants or candidates got selected to go for medical examinations, vetting by the Department of Defence Intelligence and finally selected for military training at the Training Schools of the three Services.
There were and are various reports of abuses of the system by the DMR and his confidantes. There were wild allegations of bribery and corruption. Huge sums of monies were allegedly paid by some applicants or candidates. Several political candidates were also inserted into the system with impunity.
With very strong ties at the Flagstaff House, Colonel Vander-Pallen was able to do whatever he wanted without any proper and effective controls over him. With that unfettered power and influence, the name of Colonel Vander-Pallen was and still is on the lips of all potential and real recruits. Unqualified persons, by the strictest standards of the Ghana Armed Forces, managed to go for military training by the courtesy of Colonel Vander-Pallen.
He managed to liaise and coordinate effectively with the appropriate Directorates of the three Services to get his way. Luckily for him, the appropriate corresponding Directorates of the Services were manned by his colleague NDC officers of compliant Regions. Thus, while using the position to help NDC supporters/sympathizers and members, who usually were ready to play ball as that is their trade mark, Colonel Vander-Pallen was able to shut the door to persons perceived to be NPP supporters owing to their names and Regions of origin.
The case of the last groups of recruits, who started the process during the era of John Mahama but completed during the administration of His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, was allegedly fraught with several irregularities.
Colonel Vander-Pallen really took advantage of “the change and confusion of the Transitional Period” to push into the system several NDC sponsored candidates with cheeky ease. With the uncertainty around the transition, no proper scrutiny was done thereby enabling Colonels Vander-Pallen and Kofi Adokor to do their own thing to the detriment of the genuine applicants.
Surprisingly, even with the NPP gradually firming itself in position, Colonel Vander-Pallen is still usurping the powers of the DMP and GHQ (PA).
With his chameleonic skills, which enabled him and the wife to change from the NDC to NPP in 2001 (after President Kufuor took over) and NPP to NDC in 2009 (after President Mills took over) thereby winning businesses and contracts for the family, Colonel Vander-Pallen is at it again in 2017 (after President Akufo-Addo has taken over).
This officer is a real threat to the interest of the NPP and fair play. He must be changed now before he causes more havoc to the system and the NPP Administration.