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05.12.2007 Feature Article

“Ghana Navy Hails JJ” For What?

Those of you who have been avidly reading my journalistic fare, either on the Internet or in any of the Ghanaian newspapers at home, are fully aware of the fact that yours truly is no fan of former Defense Minister, Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor. Still significantly, if I may add, my unflattering take on the younger brother of President J. A. Kufuor is hardly personal. It is purely strategic, in the strictest political sense. And it is squarely for the foregoing reason that I am responding to an article with the above-quoted caption of this article which was published by the Weekly Standard and posted to the edition of November 22, 2007.

What is striking about the unsigned article is that it vacuously and gratuitously seeks to depict Ghana's former defense minister as the main culprit responsible for the ramshackle state of the country's military. In this particular instance, the reference is to the Ghana Navy. The problem, however, arises when the Weekly Standard also attempts to credit Mr. Rawlings and his 20-year dictatorship as having, somehow, redounded to the functional benefit of the Ghana Navy, in particular, and the Ghana Armed Forces, in general.

For instance, the anonymous writer of the afore-referenced Weekly Standard article asserts the following: “According to some of the finest professionals that the Ghana Armed Forces have had, President Rawlings did great things for the Ghana Armed Forces as a whole, making sure that the Ghana Armed Forces gained international recognition as being among the best, well-trained, and disciplined Armed Forces anywhere in the world.”

Somebody, indeed, must have been fooling some Ghanaian journalists, particularly the journalists who write for the Weekly Standard. First of all, it amounts to the height of gross professional incompetence for any journalist worth such designation to make such a superlative claim for the Ghana Armed Forces, as an institution, without reference to even a single authoritative source, either document-wise or to one with recognized expertise in the field of war studies or military logistics, or both. Then again, this is Ghana where, for twenty long years, any reporter of consequence or stature was either physically eliminated, forced into exile or simply shit-bombed.

In sum, yours truly can bet his proverbial bottom-dollar that as a functional institution, the Ghana Armed Forces ranks neither among the very best of its kind the world over, nor even among the second best. After all, wasn't this the same Army whose commander was dispatched to the tiny strip-mall of a country that was war-torn Liberia and could not even prevent a handful of rag-tag guerilla forces from quenching the life out of then-President Samuel Doe? And then to add insult to injury by having Chairman Rawlings elevate, perhaps, the most ineffective military commander, Arnold Quainoo, to the status of a three-star general? Then again, which first-rate military establishment in any part of the world would allow a frozen Flight-Lieutenant, who could not even pass his promotion examinations, to cavalierly usurp a democratically-elected government, let alone pretend to run a civilized nation like Ghana for twelve infernal years?

Predictably, the entire Weekly Standard article was based on “unnamed sources.” How so? Did not any lecturer or professor of integrity teach any of these Weekly Standard “journalists” about the quite pedestrian fact that articles produced wholly out of anonymous sources and hearsay are not even worth using as toilet tissue, let alone being used to collect livestock waste or manure? On the latter score also, let the so-called journalists of the Weekly Standard write back to tell yours truly that their sophomoric kind ranks with the very best the world over.

It is also rather laughable that virtually every one of the purported logistical improvements allegedly brought to bear on the Ghana Navy, and evidently proudly listed by the writer(s) of the Weekly Standard article, such as upgrading the Sekondi Naval Base, to enable it to refit decrepit vessels, and which are squarely attributed to Chairman Rawlings, occurred between 1998 and 2000. And knowing fully well that Mr. Rawlings usurped Ghana's reins of governance on December 31, 1981, one cannot help but aptly ask: Just exactly what was Mr. Rawlings doing during the 17-odd years that the Ghana Navy was not being subvented, or assisted, with the necessary capital resources in order to enable it to upgrade the maintenance capacity of the Sekondi Naval Yard?

One does not need a doctoral degree to appreciate the fact that it was precisely this latter criminal act of visionless dereliction that prompted Dr. Kwame Addo-Kufuor to call ex-President Rawlings by his functional cognomen – Flt.-Lt. VISIONLESS!!!

Of course, we know exactly what Mr. Rawlings was doing during those 17-marathon years when the Ghana Navy was virtually dismembered from the rest of the Ghana Armed Forces. The former Air-Force pilot was busy misusing the Ghanaian taxpayer's jets to teach his children how to bomb their way into the Osu Castle, once Chairman Rawlings retired into the sanctum of his one-toilet Ridge estate.

It is also rather dumb, clinically speaking, for the Weekly Standard reporter(s) to be pretending that the phenomenal influx of cocaine into the country began only some seven or eight years ago. On the preceding score, this is what the Weekly Standard has to say: “'As a result of the unnecessary frustrations from Hon. Addo-Kufuor, the Navy currently has no fully operational vessels and is therefore unable to go out to sea to intercept cocaine-laden vessels that intelligence reports indicate have been frequenting Ghanaian waters. One may ask, is this visionary? Or is it a deliberate policy to make our coastline vulnerable to enable these ships to have easy access to our country? I leave it to Ghanaians to judge,' a retired officer said.”

You can almost bet your bottom-dollar that the so-called retired officer being quoted above is none other than Chairman Rawlings himself! And our terse riposte is that recently when an INTERPOL-wanted Venezuelan cocaine baron was arrested in East Legon, the Latin-American fugitive had as his most-trusted “advisors” ranking, card-carrying members of the so-called National Democratic Congress. Then also, just what is so “visionary” about the criminal authorization of the sale of Ghana's share of GHACEM, the local subsidiary of the Norwegian cement company, SCANCEM, for a whopping $ 17 million that, to-date, cannot be tracked or accounted for?

Interestingly, from the Weekly Standard article, we also learn of what ungrateful beggars Monsieur Rawlings and his rag-tag posse of Navy lackeys are, as follows: “'President Rawlings authorized the money realized from that fine [i.e. fines from foreign fishing vessels which violated Ghana's territorial waters] to be used to fund the replacement of sensitive equipment removed by the US Coast Guard from two ships donated by the US Gov't. to Ghana in November 1999, navy personnel costs, and expenses involved in sailing the two ships to Ghana,' revealed another retired officer.”
It would be quite a great achievement if it should surface that, indeed, the former Ghanaian defense minister had something to do with the “retirement” of the above-quoted navy officer. Good riddance! What an ingrate! To pretend that, somehow, a US-baiting rubble-rouser like Mr. Rawlings was entitled to the unstinted largesse of an “imperialist” America.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005). E-mail: [email protected]

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., © 2007

This author has authored 4556 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

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