Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Probe Brigadier General F Ofori Now!

The Patriotic Concerned Officers and Men (PACOM) of the Ghana Armed Forces are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for equity, fairness and justice in one breadth and eradication of corruption, corrupt and inappropriate practices in anther breath.

After calling for forensic audit into the activities of the Department for Planning and Development (GHQ PxD), Department of Defence Industries (GHQ DID) and Directorate of Resettlement with respect to the incorporation of the Armed Forces Bank (Services Integrity Savings and Loans Limited) and the Shoe Factory, Directorate of Army Peacekeeping Operations (DAPKOP) and Office of the Army Secretary with respect to payment of “fees” and “charges” for peacekeeping vacancies, PACOM’s binoculars are now zoomed on the Directorate of Engineer Services (GHQ DES) of the Ghana Armed Forces.

We have conducted an extensive research on the Engineer Services. The Directorate of Engineer Services is the technical head for the combat engineers (48 Engineer Regiment) and civil and electrical engineers (49 Engineer Regiment). Until the reorganization of the Engineer Regiments, the two Regiments existed as separate and distinct units performing different roles.

The current 49 Engineer Regiment used to be the Works Services Engineer Regiment and had nothing to do, by core functions, with then Field Engineers Regiment. The Works Services Engineers were and are still essentially in charge of constructional works, maintenance and repairs of living and office accommodation for the Ghana Armed Forces and indeed the Ministry of Defence.

To enable them perform their core mandate, the then Works Services Engineers and now 49 Engineers Regiment have had to entice, retain, motivate and utilize the expertise, competences, skills and abilities of the requisite professionals such as architects, quantity surveyors, electrical engineers, building technologists and civil engineers. 

The original Field Engineers Regiment and now 48 Engineers Regiment were and are mandated to see to it that the Army (and for that matter the entire military) lives, moves and fights in both peace and war times. Thus, the Field Engineers or 48 Engineers are combat engineers.

With the appropriate equipment and technology, the “combat engineers” (field engineers or 48 Engineers) are to construct roads, bridges and field tracks for human and vehicular movements in combat and during exercises. The combat engineers are responsible for laying and breaching mines either to deny entirely or to limit enemy movements or to facilitate movement of own troops.

Other duties of the combat engineers include providing temporary or permanent living accommodation, trenches and shelter during combat or field exercises. The combat engineers may assist in preparing improvised and actual ordnance, devices and explosives as weapons of war or help in detonating or incapacitating them as appropriate.

It is obvious from the discussions that the traditional roles of the “Works Services Engineers” and “Combat engineers” were distinct, different and separate. The work or duties of the “Works Services Engineers” are essentially peace time roles of construction, maintenance and repairs of office and living accommodations.

The reorganization of the Engineer Corps has brought in its trail the integration of the two main branches of “works engineers” (combat and field engineers). Personnel of the hitherto separate and distinct Regiments now have a lot of things in common including courses and training. The Engineer Training School, for instance, is responsible for providing military engineer training to officers, men and civilian personnel of both 48 and 49 Engineer Regiments.

Consequently, the two Regiments are headed by one Directorate (The Directorate of Engineer Services-DES). The Directorate of Engineer Services is the “policy head” and “brain” of the two Engineer Regiments. One would therefore have expected a very healthy, symbiotic relationship. But that is not to be.

Depending on the character traits of the officer who is appointed the Director of Engineer Services (DES), the two Regiments and their personnel may live in harmony or not. The days of Colonel Gyimah Danso and Brigadier General H Nana-Acheampong as Directors of Engineer Services are relished with nostalgia.

In recent times, the tenure of office of then Colonel and now Brigadier General CS Alhassan (GH/2213) as Director of Engineer Services saw harmony between the two Regiments and their personnel.

What enabled these Directors of Engineer Services to cultivate, nurture and sustain the peaceful and harmonious relationship was essentially owing to the fact that they were professionals in the various disciplines of engineering. They understood the real professionals (civil engineers, electrical engineers, architects, quantity surveyors and building technologists among others) and the artisans and craftsmen and knew where to draw the lines, allocate responsibilities and duties according to their respective acumen, experiences, know-how, expert opinion and advice.

Unfortunately, for the Engineer Corps, the situation changed drastically when then Colonel and now Brigadier General Francis Ofori (GH/2162) became the Director of Engineer Services on 20th December 2013.

Owing to inferiority complex, Brigadier General F Ofori did not feel comfortable working with the real professionals. He refused to take advice and expert opinion from the real professional architects, electrical and civil engineers, quantity surveyors and building technologists but rather preferred dealing with non-professionals and “compromised professionals”. This way, Brigadier General F Ofori was able to have firm control in the award of contracts. He selected his contractors-main and subsidiary ones- for all the major contracts in the various Garrisons of the Ghana Armed Forces.

All the contractors are currently opposition members who had been brought into the system since the tenure of General Smith as the Defence Minister. The Engineer Corps and opposition solidarity was exploited and deepened by Brigadier General F Ofori to the exclusion of all non-NDC contractors.

Worse still, almost all the contracts entered into or promoted by Brigadier General F Ofori for various projects in the Ghana Armed Forces were “sole-sourcing”. Then Colonel Ofori and his Engineer and NDC cohorts ensured that their preferred contractors for specific projects were selected based on the “sole sourcing” facility in the Procurement Act.

This arrangement did not find favour with the real professionals at the Directorate of Engineer Services and 49 Engineer Regiment. The faint-hearted professionals, after several unsuccessful discussions and hearings on the need to use professional approaches in assessing contract sums and in the award of the contracts ultimately, either retired voluntarily from the service or remained dumb and irrelevant in the Engineer Corps.

Other professionals who would not bulge and kowtow to the wishes and unprofessional directives of Brigadier General Ofori were victimized and humiliated. Some of these patriotic officers who would do due diligence for value for money and high standards in the award and execution of contracts have been denied promotion to their next appropriate ranks. 

Some of them were posted out of the main Engineer Corps to units, departments and formations where their professional expertise and knowledge are either not being used at all or are seriously being under-utilized in order to satisfy Brigadier General Ofori’s whims and caprices.

One such professional engineer officer who has suffered unnecessarily under the instructions of then Colonel and now Brigadier General Francis  Ofori is Lieutenant Colonel Bennet Kwaku-Mensah Arkutu (GH/2626) who  in 2014 was posted out of GHQ(DES) and 49 Engineer Regiment to Army Headquarters as Deputy Director Administration.

Realizing that Lieutenant Colonel BK Arkutu might be able to win the favour of the Chief of Army Staff, as an Army officer, while working at the Army Headquarters, then Colonel F Ofori managed to get him posted out of Army Headquarters to the Headquarters Military Academy and Training Schools (MATS), Command as the Commanding Officer on 26th February, 2016. Lieutenant Colonel BK Arkutu has remained at MATS, HQ as the CO while former Colonel Francis Ofori has been appointed the Commander of Support Services Brigade Group and has been promoted Brigadier General since 1st July, 2016. 

Brigadier General F Ofori perceived Lieutenant Colonel BK Arkutu as a member of the New Patriotic Party and therefore did everything humanly possible to frustrate Lieutenant Colonel BK Arkutu in terms of job satisfaction, appointments and promotion. 

Currently, Lieutenant Colonel BK Arkutu remains one of the senior-most Lieutenant Colonels and as a PSC (Passed Staff College) qualified Regular Officer and a professional more than deserves to be promoted to the rank of full Colonel. But will it happen? Perhaps Yes, but may be not any soon.

Why? Because Brigadier General F Ofori continues to be the main power broker in the Engineer Corps today even under the NPP Administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo.

The multi-dollar question that members of PACOM are asking is this: “When shall Brigadier General Francis Ofori be made to face the full rigors of the law?”. Members of PACOM are armed with all the allegations on the “sole sourcing contracts” signed by and executed during the tenure of Brigadier General F Ofori as the Director of Engineer Services of the Ghana Armed Forces.

PACOM is demanding a forensic audit into the activities, actions and contracts of then Colonel Francis Ofori as a matter of urgency. The allegations are rife that most of the “sole sourcing contracts” are stinking with malfeasance.

Allegations about the Tamale projects and others require immediate action and forensic audit. Nothing more nothing less!!! 

The Directorate of Engineer Services follows only the Department of Plans and Development in the allocation of budgetary funds. GHQ (DES) controls “very heavy budgetary” items and funds that must be used in the best interest of the Ghana Armed Forces and the nation state Ghana. Obtaining maximum value for money according to the highest standards and best practices should be matters of concern to a disciplined institution such as the Ghana Armed Forces.

Unfortunately, PACOM is of the opinion that, that did not happen when then Colonel F Ofori was the Director of Engineer Services. He is alleged to have sidelined all patriotic professionals at the Directorate to enable him “milk” the system to its barest breasts.

In order to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the allegations made by PACOM and silent observers at GHQ (DES) and 49 Engineer Regiment against now Brigadier General F Ofori, the DAYBREAK is calling on the Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff and ultimately the President and Commander In Chief of Ghana Armed Forces to institute an urgent forensic audit into all contracts entered into by GHQ (DES) on behalf of the Ghana Armed Forces especially since 20th December 2013.

It is also alleged by observers at GHQ (DES) and 49 Engineer Regiment that then Colonel Francis Ofori took away several machines and equipment (especially generators) belonging to the Ghana Armed Force.

In order to determine the truth or falsity in all these allegations, a forensic audit may be imperative.
Fortunately, some of the officers and men are ready, willing and anxious to provide useful pieces of information on all these allegations if the forensic audit were to be conducted. 
In order to “cover his back” and to seal all those stinking sole sourcing contracts then Colonel F Ofori managed to get a “combat engineer” and not a “Works Services engineer” to succeed him.

Thus, Colonel Daniel Yaw AduBoafo Nyarko (GH/2425), a combat engineer, was preferred to Colonels Patrick Korankye Apenkwah (GH/2529) and Jonathan Mensh Opai – Tetteh (GH/2574).

Colonels PK Apenkwah and JM Opai-Tetteh who are professional engineers have been scattered and posted to GHQ(Logistics) as Director Lands and Director Logistics respectively, far away from GHQ (DES) where Brigadier General Francis Ofori and his surrogates are in firm control awarding their sole sourcing contracts.

It is alleged that even though Brigadier General Ofori is the Commander Support services Brigade Group, he continues to control remotely all the contracts and activities of GHQ (DES).
What an unfair system?

Members of PACOM allege that Brigadier General F Ofori exploited his membership of the NDC to full advantage. There is no doubt that Brigadier General Ofori is a full member and proud one of NDC. He does not hide his membership of and association with the NDC. He has openly been supporting, financing and strategizing for the NDC over the years. 

As a “barracks boy” (son of an Other Rank of the Supply and Transport Corps), who joined the officer corps during the era of the Provisional National Defence Council of FLT LT JJ Rawlings, Brigadier General F Ofori and his wife, Aba, have always fallen in love with the P/NDC and NDC governments of Jerry Rawlings, Professor Mills and Mr. Mahama.

Brigadier General F Ofori has been exceptionally lucky and fortunate to be covered by the umbrella of the NDC and the canopy of the Engineer Corps. He was and remains the darling boy of General JH Smith owing to the Engineer Corps solidarity. He benefitted from the same warmth and succor of the late General Mensah Wood. He would have benefitted even more than this had Gen Mensah Woodd “been allowed” to live longer.

As the ADC to General Mensah – Wood, who was then the Chief of Defence Staff (General Officer Commanding the Ghana Armed Forces), then Captain Francis Ofori got introduced to and acquainted with most of the prominent and respected serving and retired Officers of the Engineer Corps. 

Right from the Ghana Military Academy an umbilical cord link had been established between then Major Emmanuel Okyere and Officer Cadet Francis Ofori.

With his commission into the Engineer Corps on 17th August 1985, Second Lieutenant Francis Ofori got into touch with other serving Engineer Officers such as Colonel Lord Attivor (GH/1187), Lieutenant Colonel RE Baiden (GH/1260), Lieutenant Colonel F Adu-Amanfo (GH/1264),  Lieutenant Colonel JT Dottey (GH/1267), Lieutenant Colonel AA Donkor (GH/1392), Lieutenant Colonel PK Opoku (GH/1426), Lieutenant Colonel CS Modey (GH/1434), Lieutenant Colonel GY Dordunoo (GH/1450), Lieutenant Colonel AK Amedoh (GH/1510), Major GY Mahunu (GH/1672), Major B Musah (GH/1759), Major  JK Klobodu (GH/1763) and several others.

The network of the Engineer officers has become very useful to Brigadier General F Ofori to date. The Engineer Corps had been predominantly PNDC and NDC omented.  It has been continuity and business as usual whether the NDC or the NPP is in power.

Brigadier General F Ofori has used “eye service” boot licking and sycophancy to survive the Kufuor Administration after demonstrating over-zealously his PNDC and NDC affinities during the regimes of Jerry Rawlings

The second- coming of the NDC under the regimes of Professor Mills and John Mahama became a special blessing for then Lieutenant Colonel Francis Ofori. Between January 2009 and January 2017, Lieutenant Colonel F Ofori has been promoted to the rank of Brigadier General (two incremental jumps within 7years; promoted Colonel on 26th January 2011 and Brigadier General on 1st July 2016).

In addition to juicy appointments and promotions, Brigadier General F Ofori has become fabulously rich within the period in question.

Brigadier General F Ofori has demonstrated his richness to all and sundry in the Ghana Armed Forces and the entire world or universe. The evidence of his opulence may be found in the Armed Forces News (AFnews) issue No 127 for the Fourth Quarter 2016 at Page 7.

In a report by one Raphael Ohene- Kwapong, it is stated as follows “Commander Support Services Brigade Group, Brigadier General Francis Ofori has donated sets of computers and Uninterruptible Power Supper (UPS) to some units of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) at the Support Services Headquarters at Burma Camp on Wednesday 30 November 2016.

According to Brigadier General Ofori, the donation was a personal initiative to assist the beneficiary units to foster work efficiency.

The items were received by the Commanding Officer (CO) Lieutenant Colonel Abednego Shooter of 49 Engineers and also supervised by the distribution of the items to the beneficiary units on behalf of the Commander.

In all, 12 sets of computers with UPS and earphones were given to 11 units. Among the units that benefitted were Armed Forces Central Band (AFCB), GHQ Directorate of Public Relations (DPR), GHQ Camp and Ghana Military Police (GMP) among others..”

The report in the AFnews has gone unnoticed because most readers could not ascribe any meaning to it. At best, most readers see him as heroic philanthropist. But to the well informed keen observer, the gesture calls for several pertinent questions and thorough interrogations.

Firstly, there is the need for a clarification on the clause “a personal initiative” May we rightly assume that the sets of computers, UPS and accessories were bought by Brigadier General Francis Ofori from his own financial resources? Or is it a case that he solicited for donors who willingly gave these items to him to be distributed among the units under his command? 

Even though that is a possibility, we may refuse to go by or accept it. The reason is that if Brigadier General Ofori managed to secure donors (benevolent ones) and the items were to be given to those military units pro bono then it was unfair for Brigadier General Ofori to refuse or fail to make a full disclosure to that effect. Those benefactors, obviously undertaking part of their corporate or civic responsibility to humankind, may very well want to be credited for that. 

No such donation may prudently be done in conditions of anonymity. Even the Lord Jesus Christ admonishes us to show gratitude to our benefactors and persons who show compassion and love on the vulnerable through the parable of the lepers.  How much more Military Personnel?

In the circumstances, we are persuaded and rightly so, to conclude that the 12 sets of computers, UPS and accessories were bought by Brigadier General F Ofori from his own resources and should be accounted for. Working conveniently with that assumption, may we please know the price of a set of the computer, UPS and the accessories either in Cedis or Dollars?

We estimate that each set of computers, UPS and accessories would conservatively cost about at least $150.  If we even work with that assumption, the cost of the twelve sets would be in the neighborhood of $1,600. We dare say that the unit price of one set of those computers, UPS and accessories may be more than US $150.00

Granted that it is just about $150 per a set culminating in a total cost of about one thousand six hundred dollars which could be converted to Ghana cedis at not less than GH¢ 6,400

How much is Brigadier F Ofori’s monthly income? How much of his income is spent on his household (Feeding and maintenance of his wife and children)? How many of his children are working for reliable monthly or periodic income? What about the children in school? How much is spent on the education of those kids?

Since Mrs. Aba Ofori took advantage of GCB’s policy of redundancy, how much is her monthly support to the family income? How much financial support comes from the working children (or should I say young men) of the Ofori family? What therefore is the Gross Income of the family? What would be the Net Monthly Income of the Ofori family?

How long (number of months) did it take Brigadier General Francis Ofori and his family to accumulate the savings with which he bought those sets of computers, for these 11 units of the GAF?
These are relevant pertinent questions that Brigadier General Francis Ofori must answer with documentary and convincing evidence. He should not wish them away.

We are more strengthened and justified by public interest to demand that there should be a forensic enquiry/audit into the affairs of GHQ (DES) during the period that Brigadier General Francis Ofori was the Director of Engineer Services.

And Brigadier General F Ofori is currently in Germany with his family for holidays.

And we know that your wife cooks for Brigadier General Emmanuel Okyere who is your main anchor but we shall return.

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