General News of Monday, 20 February 2017
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has fulfilled his campaign promise that his administration would clear arrears of Ghanaian soldiers who served on peacekeeping duties.
The soldiers yelled and heaved a sigh of relief over the weekend when the
president announced the major decision in their payment plan in The Gambia.
He revealed that upon assumption of office, “I was told about the arrears on peacekeeping operations owed to soldiers. I decided to do something about it …and I ordered the release of $13 million to cater for the arrears.”
This decision, he said, was to ensure that the morale of soldiers is boosted, and to serve as an indication of his commitment to the welfare of the Ghana Armed Forces.
The immediate past Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Marshall Michael Samson Oje, had thanked the president on Friday during the handing over to his successor, Major Gen. Obed Akwa, for the prompt release of the outstanding payments to the troops.
President Akufo-Addo announced in The Gambia that henceforth, Ghanaian soldiers and police officers and men on peacekeeping mission abroad would receive their allowances whilst on duty tour.
The previous practice has been for government to pay them their full entitlements when they finally returned home from their peacekeeping operations.
Interacting with Ghanaian soldiers, who are part of an ECOWAS troop on peacekeeping operations in The Gambia over the weekend, President Akufo-Addo indicated, “We will make it a principle that wherever the peacekeeping operation is, the peacekeepers will be paid there. That is the principle, and we are not going to go back on that.”
During the 2016 electioneering campaign, President Akufo-Addo said, “In our view, those who go on peacekeeping operations should be paid where they are and not when they come back to Accra.”
But speaking to the soldiers on a visit to The Gambia, he noted, “As it is now, the monies that are due you for the first half of the operation, which is up to the 20th of February, have been released to you.
“The fifty soldiers who are to remain here for the next three months will also have what is due you released. All of you going back to Ghana on Monday will be paid in full before you leave here (Gambia).”
The announcement was said to have drawn spontaneous applause and appreciation from the soldiers who reportedly described the gesture as a “feat never witnessed in the history of the Ghana Armed Forces.”
With the mission to The Gambia being the first decision he had to take as president and Commander in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, President Akufo-Addo told the soldiers that “when ECOWAS makes commitments, I believe that as good members, and members in good standing, we are required to honour those commitments.”
After consultations with the hierarchy of the Ghana Armed Forces, he decided that the request by ECOWAS for Ghana to contribute 210 soldiers to the mission in The Gambia was a good one because it bordered on the peace and stability of a member country of ECOWAS.
“I am happy I did so because the contribution that you have made to restoring peace, security and democracy in The Gambia is an exceptionally strong one. And, I am here to congratulate you on the work that you have done for ECOWAS and for Ghana. You have lifted the flag of our country high and you deserve all the praises that you are getting from the population and from everybody else,” he declared.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “Everyone I have interacted with here is telling me how professional you have been, how well-disciplined you have been, and how very thorough you have been in your work. As your Commander in-Chief, I am very happy to hear about this report.”
He underscored, “To some extent I am not surprised because when I was foreign minister some 10 years ago, one of the things that consistently buoyed up my position and gave me strength was the performance of Ghana’s Armed Forces in peacekeeping operations.
“Everywhere I went in the world, it was one of the first things my colleague foreign ministers will tell me – ‘your soldiers are very professional; they are doing a good job.’ Whether it was Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Somalia, wherever it was, the reports of how good Ghanaian soldiers are were all the same.”