The former Director of Manpower and Personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces, Colonel Kwadwo Damoah has chastised former President J.J Rawlings for making ethnic statements that incited some of the officers and polarized the military.
According to Col. Damoah, two of such utterances by ex-President Rawlings during the December 2008 general elections have sowed seeds of hatred against him, and it is being manifested through the current Board of Inquiry (BOI), investigating the qualification of the 420 army potential recruits.
Making his submission before the BOI on Saturday, Col. Damoah noted that ex-President Rawlings told a political gathering at Peki, in the Volta Region, before the elections that Voltarians were being denied entry into the military. “Certainly, such a sensitive statement coming from no less a personality than a former President and Founder of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) fitted into the grand scheme of some officers in the military and the NDC to potray me as the number one enemy”, he said.
He maintained that even though the New Patriotic Party (NPP) sought to refute the allegation, the harm had already been done to the then Chief of Defence Staff, Gen J.B Danquah, who was deemed to be the main architect of the policy. He said President Rawlings again stated in Tain in the Brong Ahafo region that he (Damuah) had sent troops and ammunitions to assasinate him (Rawlings) and that he was going to deal with him appropriately when NDC comes back to power. He lamented that Rawlings' statement was most unfortunate as there was no iota of truth in that wicked, malicious and defamatory statement.
Delving into how the issue of the 420 recruits came about, he sated that the then CDS directed that the General Recruitment Exercise start in March last year, as a result of which advertisements on the exercise was effected in January that same year, and the Coordinating Conference on the exercise took place on February 7, 2008, while the regional screening phase was slated for the period of 4th to 17th March, 2008.
According to him, the intention of the CDS was to ensure that by the end of June, 2008, all the potential recruits had completed their medical examination, adding that the CDS then directed that the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Police and other security agencies were to assist and supplement the efforts of the Department of Defence Intelligence in conducting the thorough vetting in conformity with the benchmark he had set.
He continued that the CDS directed that the policy on regional balance should be adhered to as scrupulously as possible. To this effect, the Regional and Central Screening Teams were to ensure that each region had its quota without sacrificing quality and merit for mediocrity.
The paper gathered that the regional quota for the selection of recruits was based on the Population Census of Ghana, approximately as follows; Ashanti Region 19%, Brong Ahafo 10%, Central region 8%, Eastern region 10%, Greater Accra 19%, Northern Region 9%, Upper East 4%, Upper West 3%, Volta 8% and Western region 10%. Col. Damoah said the applicants who were successful at the interview consisted of written tests, reading of materials, oral communication, examination of educational and other documents and initial body examination were short listed for documentation by personnel of Records, and final medical examination by Medical men at the 37Military Hospital.
He said, based on the understanding reached between the office of the Personnel and Army Headquarters on the composition of the First Batch of Army Potential Recruits to be trained in 2009 at ARTS, a list of 420 potential recruits were submitted by the office of the Personnel to Army Headquarters and subsequently individual letters were sent to the recruits on January 27, this year, to converge at El-Wak Stadium to commence training on Saturday January 31, the same year. However, on January 30, 2009, the exercise was suspended for no apparent reason.