The Akufo-Addo administration, appears very far away from the realities of governance, despite having enough time to march utopian campaign promises against national resources and requirements of a strategic institution like the Ghana Armed Forces.
The government, according to the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, is set to introduce a Bill in Parliament that will alter the number of years personnel can serve in the military from 25 to 30 years, but insiders have told The Herald that, the decision was misplaced and too dangerous for the country.
Ghana, risks having average soldiers, who will be tired, weak and afraid to be deployed to any war zone to protect life and property.
Soldiers at 50 years and above lack, combat effectiveness, The Herald learned.
According to them, the additional years have huge health, logistical and financial challenges for an institution which is already struggling to pay end of service benefits and pension to its retiring officers, men and civilian employees.
Additional years, also make it impossible for the recruitment of younger soldiers, adding more years also means lack of military accommodations and other facilities for incoming officers.
Last years, some retired military men, staged series of demonstrations in Accra, accusing the Mahama government of short-changing them in the payment of their end of service benefits.
The reality was that, there was no money to pay them their actual entitlement, having been kept in the service beyond the 25 mandatory years of service.
The New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) had campaigned in 2016, promising to increase the number of service years for soldiers from 25 to 30 years.
Addressing soldiers at Burma Camp in Accra, the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, said the move was meant to create an avenue for the country to benefit more from the experience of soldiers.
According to the Minister, this is “so that every person has the opportunity to serve for 30 years… and by June or July, that law will go to Parliament and that will be the norm for the foreseeable future. It will run down to the officers as well but for now, this is purely targeted at the men [army personnel].”
The Herald contacts advised the Akufo-Addo government to get realistic, by dropping the 2016 campaign garment and consult both serving and retired soldiers on the implications of adding more years to the existing years just to make some soldiers happy with the monetary benefits the change will bring.
They insisted that the additional years, risk collapsing the Ghana Armed Forces.
In March 2017, President Akufo-Addo had announced that legislation processes had already begun in this regard.
“Legislative review of the armed forces amendment regulation of 1986, LI 1332, has begun. Its purpose is to extend the service duration of other ranks from the current 25 years to 30 years in fulfillment of the manifesto promise we made,” the President said.
But it was revealed that the years of service, used to be 18, but was changed to 25, but the change was not rigidly implemented, hence left soldiers recruited as far back as 1989, in active service, thus creating financial challenges to the Mahama government when it decided to retire them.
This led to the demonstrations and legal actions brought against the government.
They explained that recruiting a soldier at age 23 and having him serve for 25 years, was to get them to retire younger and stronger to do other things with their lives after retirement since they will still be below 50 years.
The Herald’s contacts, warned the government that, the soldiers will be happy with the years and the additional cash and pension it brings, however, implementing the campaign promise using the NPP Majority in parliament to amend the years to 30, will spell doom for the country, its military, as well as security.