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02.02.2009 Politics

Mills Men Run Amok

By Daily Guide
JJ Rawlings and Prez Atta MillsJJ Rawlings and Prez Atta Mills

Less than a month after taking over power, President John Evans Atta Mills' government has been entangled in numerous controversies, with the latest being that over 400 newly recruited soldiers have been sent packing.

The new recruits were dismissed in a manner akin to that of the sacked Foreign Service staff, on suspicion of not belonging to the 'right political party'.  

Some 420 young army recruits, who constituted the first batch of Ghanaian youth admitted into the Ghana Army, and were due to begin training last Saturday, were dispersed midway into the day's activities at the El Wak Stadium in Accra, following an order from above.

A hurriedly drafted secret directive to stop the training process and start a fresh one, DAILY GUIDE learnt, was to make a replacement with activists of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), who are currently being drafted from the 230 constituencies across the country.

Senior military officers who witnessed the incident described it as shameful and a danger to the nation's fragile democracy, while others warned of a looming ethnic cleansing in the nation's security system.

Some of the affected recruits who would not like to be named, told DAILY GUIDE that they had information from the Training Centre at Shai Hills that the chunk of the batch were mostly Akan-speaking people, and that there was the need for investigations into how these youth were recruited.

The paper was reliably informed also, of plans to get rid of any officer at the Army Recruitment Directorate who was perceived to be a sympathizer of the immediate past ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) by the end of February 2009.

In the case of the 420 sacked recruits, the directive to stop them from legitimately serving their nation, according to documents intercepted by DAILY GUIDE, was drafted by Air Commodore C.E.K. Dovlo, Director-General, Personnel and Administration of the Ghana Armed Forces. He failed to give any reason for his action.

The directive, dated Friday 30th January 2009, (24 hours to the training session) stated: “Suspension of Army Recruit Training 1/09. Training to be suspended until further notice.

Army Headquarters to inform Army Recruits Training School, Hq. Medicals, Army Commander, and Director of Military Police. All to accept for urgent action”.

No reason had been given for the action, but DAILY GUIDE stumbled upon a directive from the echelons of the ruling party, asking each constituency to send the names of four persons the party considered fit to replace the sacked recruits.

The frightening development, according to sources in the armed forces, was the first of its kind and directly smacked of a grand design to load the army with political fanatics to entrench the ruling party in government by hook or crook.

“It is an unusual and frightening situation. The army is supposed to be politically neutral, and that is the reason why we always insist on regional, geographical and religious balance during intake period. This country is gradually drifting towards a precipice,” a worried officer told this paper.

Another officer said the authorities claimed they wanted to monitor the mode of recruitments since 2005 before they go ahead with this year's programme, but opined that the reasons were not acceptable.

“If the 64th battalion, which was instituted by the Rawlings government, was absolved into the regular army by former President Kufuor without questioning its basis, then why raise questions now? We in the army seriously think something needs to be done about this kind of politics and tribalism being injected into the army,” another officer said.

It would be recalled that the NDC, as part of its arm-twisting formula to win power, embarked seriously on ethnic warfare, describing some as the cause of the woes of others.

At a point, the founder of the party, Jerry John Rawlings, told the people of Peki in the Volta region that the past government had embarked on a policy to sack all Ewes from the army, and called on them to rise up and defend their land and destiny.

The political vendetta was carried out soon after Mills took over the administration of the country a few weeks ago.

Using his right hand man, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, the new President unleashed mayhem on his political opponents, contrary to his pledge to be father to all.

As at the time of going to press, a number of security officers had already received text messages, warning them to get ready to be booted out because they were perceived to be sympathizers of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Instead of concentrating on the economy of the nation and hit the ground running as he promised, President Mills made security his primary objective as if the country was experiencing security crisis of a sort; to the extent that former president Rawlings went to the Kotoka International Airport to take photographs and check if the gates at the airport were properly locked the way he wanted it to.

A quick look at the regional distribution of his cabinet would indicate that the regional balance the President promised was a mere political jargon.

Saturday's flagrant disruption of a military training was seen as the beginning of an Armageddon to be unleashed on the Ghanaian citizenry by Mills' boys, akin to what happened in the Rawlings era.

The new administration had been enmeshed in controversy from the day it took power, sending wrong signals to the public.

Appointments of several people had either been terminated or withdrawn with some people being asked to proceed on leave.

By Bennett Akuaku