Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How we wish every year is an election year

The schemes and maneuverings of NPP politicians don’t seize to amaze me. These schemes and maneuverings couldn’t have been happening if the Ghanaian politician had respect for the citizenry and does not see them as a gullible bunch that can be easily manipulated and deceived.

I have observed with much amusement the desperate interventions that have been rolled out by the Government of Ghana as the December 7, 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary elections draw nigh.

First was the LEAP which ensures a hand out of between 8-15 Ghana Cedis to poor households – though this is an admission of Government’s failure in bettering the living standards of our people, the NPP Government weighed this as against the political capital and chose the latter, since the poor LEAP beneficiaries might be forced to say thank you to NPP on December 7. Never mind what the analysts say even about human dignity and the failings of hand-outs everywhere in the world.

The LEAP was just the beginning, President Kufuor returned from the United Kingdom with a 42 million Pounds assistance for Ghana’s health sector. He subsequently announced a free medical care package for all pregnant women and his Minister for Women and Children Affairs had no shame in organizing a durbar for women to mob the President and thank him.
Again the politicians, didn’t care about the disgrace this had brought to Ghana. For seven years, women were detained for several months after delivery because they couldn’t afford. Their children came into this world and the first welcome package Ghana could give them was a criminal record. Don’t forget that these detained ones were even lucky as 540 of their colleagues die per every 1000 births because of the poor health delivery system. Though these same politicians had 105 million Dollars to spend not too long ago, they chose to buy two luxurious custom-made Presidential Jets for themselves and then supervise such humiliation and murder of our women until the British Government came to our aid, and yet, these politicians instead of bowing their heads in shame could ignore their conscience (if they have one) and mobilize these same women they had humiliated and murdered to sing their praises.

Immediately flowing from these, an announcement was made to the effect that all children under age 18 can access the National Health Insurance for free. Until this announcement, the impression had been created that children were covered by the NHIS as soon as their parents registered.

Now, this is the latest and probably the most fascinating maneuver; in what appears to be a flagrant interference in the work of the judiciary, the Information Minister, Hon. Asamoah Boateng announced last week on Joy FM that Government had asked the judges to reduce the fines they slap on drivers who appear before them at the Motor Court. The lame excuse the Minister gave was that drivers were complaining and that this will also curb corruption. What the Minister fails to realize is that his comments justify the corruption in the Ghana Police Service. The Minister also failed to tell Ghanaians that if they treated the Ghana Police Service about 1/10th of how they politicians treat themselves by increasing the salaries of Policemen and paying it on time, corruption in the Ghana Police Service would be drastically reduced. Again, the drivers have been complaining since the establishment of the Motor Court over three years ago, and why were they not listened to then?

Definitely, most schemes by exploitative politicians are indeed laughable. Maybe, just maybe, in order to get the Ghanaian politician to listen to us and remember always that he is accountable to we the people and that he derives his power from us- we may just consider holding elections every year. It may be the only panacea to the immediate neglect of the people by these politicians when they are elected only to remember the people in an election year. However, I don’t think these politicians deserve the wastage of our taxes if we are going to be forced by their conduct to hold elections every year, and that is why I take consolation in what is happening in the NPP Parliamentary Primaries. Over 22 incumbent MPs in the ruling NPP have lost their seats at my last count and this may just be an indicator that the Ghanaian electorate aren’t gullible anymore and that when you neglect them, no matter your election year maneuver, they will have their own package for you.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa is the author of the book, A State of Coma; he has several other publications to his name. He was NUGS President and is currently a leading member of the CJA. He welcomes your comments via

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Desperate people often take desperate measures. Desperate measures may ameliorate situations or could worsen matters depending on the circumstances leading to or culminating in the desperation. 

Carefully planned, thought through and well executed desperate measures may turn things around for the better depending on the macro political, social, public and economic environment, especially if it is an election year. 

There is no doubt that the leader of our community is a desperate man. He is desperately yearning for another four – year mandate so that he could still be the head of state head, of government and the Commander – In – Chief of the Republic of Ghana and the Armed Forces of Ghana.

The leader of our community has been a failure as far as our community is concerned and as far as the entire nation is concerned. What has our community achieved during his eight – year presidency? Has the leader improved the service conditions of members of our community? 

Perhaps he is deceiving himself with the “nominal gains” but not the real improvement of our community, the well – being of the members, the operational and administrative capabilities of the troops.
What about the level of esprit de Corps, sense of camaraderie and team work in the Armed Forces? The answers to these few questions are not for fetched.

The first indicator of the “failure” of our leader is the Embraer aircraft bought from Brazil for our Airforce. Instead of going for the state of the art Airbus at a really very competitive price, then vice leader of our community and chairman of our council decided to go in for a “cheap” aircraft which turned out to be very expensive-more expensive than the Airbus in competitive and operational terms. The opportunity cost of that aircraft (Brazilian Embraer) was and is enormous. 

The Ghana Armed Forces and the nation lost a lot by way of other equipment and logistics that could have been provided for by the extra funds used in paying for a poor quality aircraft. A report prepared by the Ghana Airforce Team of Pilots/Experts placed the Airbus-combined European and American technology- far ahead of several other aircrafts including the Embraer. 

Some of the criteria used to make the comparative analyses beyond reproach were operational capability, durability, efficiency, fuel efficiency and serviceability. It was therefore surprising that the Ghana Airforce Team of Pilots/Experts report was abandoned and the cheap Brazilian aircraft was bought with our hard earned cash.

With the likes of my friend, General SK Adeti, around to ensure an underserved electoral victory for the overall leader of our community, the plan and grounds are set to use the security service to have “JM” declared winner of the 2016 Presidential elections. 

The government had appointed Mr. Kudalor as the Acting IGP before the end of 2015 as a first major step of taking absolute control of our community. The appointment of Mr. Kudalor as IGP had been a reward for his brutalities and no – nonsense posture on innocent “Let My Vote Count” and “Alliance for Accountable Government” (AFAG) demonstrations. 

Our leader is trying to “repair” his dented image in the eyes of the military. Even though Article 57 of our 1992 Constitution makes him the Commander-In-Chief of our community, the leader of our community is suffering from an identity and recognition syndrome and is desperately seeking to be identified with the Armed Forces.

Consequently, in recent times, our leader has chosen to wear military uniforms during military ceremonies. The first time our leader wore a military uniform as the President of the Republic of Ghana was during the commissioning of an edifice for the Ghana Navy in Burma Camp. He wore a military camouflage dress. The second time he wore it was on 16 September 2016, on the occasion of the graduation of officer Cadets of Regular Career Course 56 and Short Service /Special Duties Course 54.

On that occasion, our leader wore the Army Ceremonial Dress for Generals. He was splendid in the uniform!

It is on record that General JD Mahama started wearing military uniforms during the regimes of Jerry Rawlings when he ordered that his secretaries or ministers of state be given military training. Several political appointees wore military uniforms at MATS and elsewhere, undertook some basic military training including field craft and Skill At Arms (Weapons Training)

At that time, Secretary/Minister JD Mahama was obeying orders of the then Commander-In-Chief who fortunately was a military officer and was not strange to military uniforms and environment. 

Indeed, Jerry Rawlings wore uniforms of all the Arms of the Ghana Armed Forces. He chose to wear the Army and Naval uniforms in addition to his favorite Airforce uniforms. The occasion determined the uniform that Jerry Rawlings wore. For instance at a purely Army programme, he wore the Army uniform and at a purely Naval programme, he wore the naval uniform. For national or tri-service programmes, Jerry Rawlings wore his Airforce uniforms appropriately. 

The case of “General” JD Mahama is one of the numerous cases of “causing financial loss” to the state. 

Readers and members of our community may be wondering why this “charge” or “offence” of causing financial loss to the state. The reason is simple. The full regalia for the head of state to dress in a military ceremonial dress- Army ceremonial dress- is quite expensive. It could cost close to over three thousand pound sterling. The cost of the items is quite high taking our current economic challenges into account. The cost of the cup, top dress, trousers, shoes, epaulettes, sword, belt, and others would run into several thousands of the British pound sterling. An amount of three thousand pound sterling is being modest. 

May the Director of Ordnance Services tell the members of our community how much it cost the Ghana Armed Forces and the state to kit “General” JD Mahama on Friday 16 September 2016?

What about the first outfit worn during the commissioning of the naval edifice? 

Information I have indicates that the other two Services are competing with the Army to kit our leader so that he could dress in their uniforms also for “image building”. 

If the information is true, is it not a reckless dissipation of our scarce resources?

Certainly, the Navy and the Airforce would not want to be left out of this reckless competition and have ordered kits for our leader. Could it not have been better to use the resources spent on General” JD Mahama to kit at least one of the three Service Commanders or one of the three Commandants of our training institutions where regularly ceremonies take place and the Commandants are to dress appropriately?
We hope that readers and members of our community would not describe us as being petty or mean. A prudent decision is taken against the background of prevailing circumstances. 

Currently, Ghana is a heavily indebted poor country whether so declared or not! If it were not so, how come Ghana is pursuing an austerity regime under the auspices of the international Monitory Fund (IMF)? 

It is only countries with serious economic challenges (crises) that submit themselves to the regimes of the IMF. 

Already, there are reports, and that has been admitted by the Minister for Finance, that the government is facing serious difficulties in paying salaries of workers. Under those circumstances, any reckless dissipation of funds is to be avoided. Any country facing serious economic challenges or crises must weigh its choices very well.

Again, basic economics teaches us to have a prudent scale of preference to enable us make very useful and vital choices whose opportunity costs are less disastrous. We therefore beg to say that the decision by the Commander-In-Chief and the Military High Command to kit “General” JD Mahama was ill - advised and unhelpful. 

The second major desperate measure of our leader is the haphazard, erratic and uncoordinated manner in which he has been increasing salaries and allowances of members of the Ghana Armed Forces and the civilian employees of the Ministry of Defence or the Ghana Armed Forces. Is it not shameful that on August 11 2016, the leader of our community increased the earned dollar allowance for peacekeeping by just one dollar per diem and justified it with a press release by my Nyebro friend, Colonel Aggrey Quashie, Director Public Relations of the Ghana Armed Forces?  

Was it not more shameful and a real case of desperation when a few days later, our leader thought it wiser to increase the earned dollar by a further four dollars thereby bringing the total to five dollars?

Does it suggest that the leader had not planned to do anything about the earned dollar allowance but was forced beyond his control to do so or because the Daily Statesman claims the opposition New Patriotic Party had captured it in its yet to be released manifesto?

If I may ask ooooo…..why did it take our leader five years and I repeat five years to increase the UN peacekeeping allowance for formed troops (earned dollar allowance) by just one dollar?

If he had been more prudent, he would have taken a cue from his immediate predecessor- John Mills and JA Kufour-and would have realized that as soon as he became the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, he ought to have done something about it.

For instance as soon as JA Kufuor became the President and C-I-C of Ghana on 7 January 2001, he increased the earned dollar in March 2001 from fourteen dollars to twenty dollars. Again, during the second mandate of JA Kufuor, he increased the earned dollar from twenty to twenty-five dollars in 2005. 

Furthermore, JA Kufuor increased the earned dollar from twenty-five to twenty-seven dollars in 2008 before he completed his mandate on 6 January 2009. But fact is, his party was out and we did not even vote for them.

Enter John Mills in 2009 and he also increased the earned dollar from twenty-seven dollars to thirty dollars in 2009 (thus the very first year of his Presidency). Taking a cue from these two examples, what prevented General JD Mahama from increasing the earned dollar in 2013 at most after the Supreme Court ruling in his favour? 

It shows that General Mahama did not mean well for the troops but realized that the 2016 elections were critical and needed to bolster his sinking reputation in the eyes of the military.

What is this nonsense of first class military personnel?

I hear the military personnel closely associated with the Presidency and or the Executive are treated as first class military personnel while all the others are treated as second class military personnel. 

This practice started during the era of the Forces Reserve Battalion (FRB) and now the 64 Infantry Regiment (6 for June and 4 for 4th June 1979 uprising of the AFRC considered  as the forerunner of the PNDC and NDC).

With Lt. Col Quashie (a Nyebro) as one of the pioneering Commanding Officers, the FRB was used to provide comfort and succor to the selected favorite ones to the exclusion of the general members of the community.

These “most favoured” officers and men could undertake all kinds of overt and covert operations with impunity. Some specially selected police personnel were made part of this arrangement. 

The situation persisted when the name was changed from Forces Reserved Battalion to 64 Infantry Regiment. Members of the “Special Regiment” received special treatment. They had and still have their separate training grounds at Asutsuare with superior training facilities which are lacking at Army Recruit School (ARTS) at Shai Hills, Naval Training Schools at Tema and Sekondi and Airforce Training School at Takoradi.

The 64 Infantry Regiment has different Unit Equipment Table (UET), separate and distinct from those of the Army Battalions in Tema, Takoradi, Sunyani, Kumasi, Burma Camp and Tamale. The personnel of the regular battalions detest this arrangement but feel helpless about it as the Military High Command is scared to talk about it let alone to suggest that the incongruous situation be changed.

Special packages are given to personnel of this unit in addition to the general service conditions by way of housing, pay and allowances. Promotion of personnel and selection for peace support operations are made to favour them. 

Some of these personnel accompany the Presidency on internal and external trips with associated travelling allowances. Some are also selected for anti-hijacking and anti-terrorist operations on aircrafts with attendant juicy packages. All these special packages and allocation of vehicles (new and confiscated ones at the seaports) go to enhance the standard of living of the personnel of 64 Infantry Regiment to the chagrin of professionally equally competent regular members of the Armed Forces.

The recent creation of Special Forces in the three Services is only a farce. Real power still resides in the 64 Infantry Regiment which is able to act in some circumstances directly under the command and control of the Presidency before even the Chief of Army Staff may be aware. What an arrangement!!!

Theoretically or on paper, the 64 Infantry Regiment is under the operational and administrative control of the Army Headquarters but in practice, it is under the effective control of the political leadership and therefore I’m not shocked when some members of community went to Kasoa to hurt innocent Ghanaians.

A leader is not simply a professional killer or a manager of violence. He is rather a protector of ideals of the nation, ready to sacrifice his life defending and fighting for the sovereign rights of his nation so that others can live in a free and just society. We should therefore rise up to our responsibilities as officers and men and leave politics to the politicians