There is a fascinating phenomenon in the figure ‘10’ as far as the Defence Minister, Gen JH Smith is concerned. Gen JH Smith appeared before the Vetting Committee of Parliament on the 10th of February 2009, and told several lies with impunity. In answers to question by members of Parliamentary Vetting Committee, Gen JH Smith told lies about the policy on regional balance saying it affects only officers and also told lies by saying that they had observed irregularities about the recruitment of the 420 Army Potential Recruits whose training had been suspended.
General Smith deliberately told lies that some of the potential recruits had fake driving licenses, that some did not undergo medical examinations, that others could neither read nor write while others did not go through any of the recruitment processes or stages. All the four reasons were false even though he tried to justify only the last reason in his answer to parliament on the 10th June 2009 by alleging that 192 were illegally inserted.
Can General Smith tell the whole nation how many of the 420 or the 192 had fake driving licenses? He is challenged to list those persons and produce letters or correspondence from the DVLA and must also attach photocopies of the fake driving licenses to his answers. Normally, the DVLA will give the reasons why a particular driving license is fake. The security marks, for instance, that proves the authenticity or otherwise of a driving license would be indicated to support such a claim.
Again, Gen JH Smith is challenged to provide the list of those potential recruits out of the 420 who did not undergo medical examination. It is not possible for any recruit to be selected if that person has not been declared medically fit on an appropriate military medical form signed by an authorized medical officer at 37 Military Hospital. General Smith knows very well or ought to know that before any recruit will be documented by the Department of Military Records to undergo military training, the person’s medical form authenticated by an authorized medical officer as ‘medically fit’ will be available, inspected and accepted for that purpose. It is therefore not possible for any of the 420 Army Potential Recruits to have dodged medical examinations at 37 Military Hospital. Gen JH Smith also said that some of the potential recruits could neither write nor read.
This is most unfortunate and a deliberate lie that Gen JH Smith and others in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) such as John Jinapor, an aide of the vice president who ignorantly, maliciously and deliberately made similar comments on Adom FM’s morning show last Thursday. Gen JH Smith knows or ought to know the general eligibility criteria for recruitment into the Ghana Armed Forces. The minimum educational qualification is the Basic Educational Certificate given after completion of Junior High School. Every single potential recruit should have that level of education. Certainly, one should not expect the same level of educational proficiency between a J.S.S. graduate and a S.S.S graduate. That fact notwithstanding, the potential recruits with only BECE but with trade, vocation or specialized skills that are shortlisted, write the Aptitude Test at the regional screening with their counterparts with SSSCE or higher qualifications.
The Aptitude Test at the regional level is usually made up of English and Mathematics objective questions. One needs to read the questions to understand before answering them. Additionally, at the central screening all potential recruits are made to write an easy, read a passage to the team that consist of officers and men nominated by the authority of Generals (i.e. Service Commanders, Director Generals, Departmental Heads, Directors and Commanders and Commanding officers) and answer questions in English to the Sub-Board in an interview form.
The Central Screening Team again inspects and verifies the educational and other documents of the Potential Recruits before they are permitted to undergo medical examination at 37 Military Hospital. There is yet another check to determine whether a potential recruit can read and write English or not following which they are all to be vetted by a team from the Department of Defence Intelligence. The Potential Recruits fill a form provided by the Department which is very detailed and gathers information on the Potential Recruits Personal Details, Contact Information, Educational History, Employment History, Economic Status, Association and Character Referees and Security Clearance. The Department of Defence Intelligence has the responsibility to cross-check at all the Examining Authorities, Boards, Council and Association or the ownership of the educational certificates, vocational certificates and indeed all the information provided voluntarily by the Potential Recruits. With this process of checks and balances it is not possible for people who can neither read nor write to be selected.
The only time it may be possible to select people who are poor in reading and writing English is where the Service Headquarters or the user units have very urgent need for those potential recruits (sports personnel of national repute) and insist on recruiting them in spite of their academic shortfall and in such cases the various stakeholders are made aware of that fact and therefore it becomes an acceptable norm. The Defence Minister is challenged again to give the list of those who can neither read nor write English and he should tell Ghanaians where and how he detected those potential recruits out of the list of 420 since in his answer on 10th of February 2009, he said clearly that ‘we have observed that some of the potential recruits have fake driving licenses, some did not do medical examination, some of them can neither read nor write and others did not go through the recruitment process and failed to write examinations’.
The Minister’s statement that some of the recruits did not go through the recruitment process which he refined on the 10th June 2009 in his answer to parliament did not give the correct picture of what happened during the 2008 Recruitment Exercise hence his conclusion that 192 were illegally inserted. Certainly Gen Smith is not used to this transparent process because the system that prevailed when he was Army Commander was not as transparent enough like this. For instance, in those days under the 90/10 system, the 64 Infantry Regiment recruited it personnel separately during which 90% of all those recruited came from the Volta Region and the remaining 10% from the rest of the nine regions.
This system was in vogue when the current National Security Coordinator, Lt. Col AK Gbevlo- Lartey (GH/2125) was the Commanding Officer of the 64 Infantry Regiment with Gen Charles Okae (GH/1213) as Chief of Staff at General Headquarters and Col Osae Addae (Rtd) as Director Military Records when most recruitment exercise was conducted. Those persons who were specially recruited were trained separately at Asutsuare and not at Army Recruit Training School at Shai Hills and to make matters worse most of them did not meet the recruitment criteria but yet they became soldiers.