FRIDAY, 14th AUGUST, 2020

ACCRA

Salutations

Honourable Minister for Defence

Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps

The Chief of the Defence Staff

Service Chiefs

The Commandant

Generals

Senior Officers

The Rector, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration

Members of the Academia

Members of Staff of the College

The Rank and File of the Ghana Armed Forces

Graduands

Our Friends from the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen 

It is with great honour and delight that I address this impressive gathering this morning. I say so to acknowledge the resilience shown by the Military Hierarchy and the Staff College Control Board under the leadership of Honourable Dominic Nitiwul, the Minister for Defence. 

I want to thank the High Command and the Control Board for the invitation and also for staying the course of duty even in the midst of the COVID-19 scourge that has engulfed the world, even ordering our priorities and our usual social interactions.

Conspicuously missing, and I’m sure I am not the only one to notice,  and for very good reasons, is the usual pomp and pageantry associated with such an occasion. Sadly too, are the families of the graduates who are not here to share in this glorious moment with their loved ones. All the same, I welcome all of us here to what I will call a historic event.  

The relief and excitement on the faces of the graduates are apparent. I can feel the excitement with which they want to re-unite with their families and to resume normal life. But, there is nothing normal with our lives these days. The novel Coronavirus situation has changed our pattern of lifestyle and it is important that we learn to adjust to this new reality. The new normal.

I have noticed with satisfaction the change of venue and the stringent measures put in place for this ceremony to ensure safety. I am also aware of the many directives from the Military High Command over the last five months that effectively complemented Government’s response to the pandemic aimed at protecting our troops and families.

Indeed, the role of the Ghana Armed Forces during this global crisis has brought to the limelight the many roles of the Military during peace time. I therefore wish to use this opportunity to commend the rank and file of the Armed Forces and other security services for their steadfastness and professionalism in the execution of OP COVID SAFETY.

Let me add quickly that we are not out of the woods yet. I urge all our troops, our families and the general public to continue to stick to the directives issued and adhere strictly to the protocols outlined as part of the national response to the pandemic. 

GRADUATES

Now to the graduates. Undoubtedly, this occasion will remain memorable to you and your loved ones who are not here but share in your toils and joy. In the same vein, those of us here share in your success and achievements.

 This day marks the culmination of months of sustained and focused academic work as well as exercises that have brought the best out of you and also put to the test, your physical and mental endurance.  

I am reliably informed that this is a period during which most of you come to terms with your innate qualities and potentials and the prospects of shouldering higher responsibilities.  It is only appropriate that we share with you your success and achievement.

It would be recalled that during the graduation ceremony for Course 40 last year, I stated that the Staff College is a prime national asset. It is gratifying to note the prestigious space the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College continue to occupy as a Centre of Excellence on the African continent when it comes to the training of Middle and Senior Level Officers for Staff, Command and Leadership roles for the Ghana Armed Forces, the Armed Forces of sister African countries and Allied Security Institutions.  

Many products of this prestigious Institution have risen to the very top of different establishments in various countries. We are therefore not surprised that requests for vacancies from our sister African countries for their officers to be trained at this College continue to rise.

From the Commandant’s Report, Course 41 has 26 Allied officers from 11 sister African countries. It is heartwarming to note that authorities of the College continue to strengthen such regional and international connections. These linkages are very relevant in responding to bi-lateral, sub-regional and continental defence and security issues.  

To our Allied officers, on your return to your home establishments, I am optimistic that due to already established precedence you may see yourselves elevated and appointed to positions of authority and influence in your respective countries.

In this connection, let me remind you that the acquaintances and networks established here in GAFCSC are fundamental in engaging your course mates on matters of national and international strategic significance. As a result, I urge you to maintain and sustain these cordial relationships at both the personal and professional levels in order to enhance your career accomplishments.

To my Ghanaian officers, you are returning to your units and into appointments that will require you to place the knowledge you acquired here at the disposal of all. It is our expectation that you will in your own way become one of the lead agents in the ongoing transformation agenda of the Ghana Armed Forces, and indeed, of the Government’s agenda to build a versatile and technologically savvy professional Armed Forces .

To all the graduates, I charge you to maintain the networks you have developed with each other and your lecturers in order that your respective countries will continue to have a cohesive security architecture through you as field commanders.

From the Commandant’s report, I noticed that the COVID-19 restrictions denied you networking opportunities  with expatriate facilitators from Cranfield University, United Kingdom, especially for your modular packages in  Defence Management Course, the Conflict and Crises Management Course, the Peace Operations Course and the Counter Terrorism/Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Package.

It is gratifying to know that we had local subject matter experts who expertly filled the gaps and gave as much to your benefit. As in many areas, COVID-19 is compelling us to dig deep into our own resources. I trust that some of them were revelations of hidden talents, and believe that the contacts you have with them should be exploited to the benefit of your respective countries.

I am also aware that for obvious reasons, your Course was unable to embark on the Africa Study Tour in April as part of the Experiential Learning package. However, I note with satisfaction, as reported by the Commandant, that through your resourcefulness, you were able to do online research and virtual interviews that enabled you to submit quality work with sound recommendations.

I do assure you that these recommendations and those of your Regional Study Tour will find expression in Government policy in respect of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the handling of the six-newly created regions in the country. I entreat the Regional Coordinating Councils to continue to support the College during the tours of their respective regions in the future. 

Despite these COVID-19 induced limitations, I am glad to note the support the United Kingdom (UK) government extended to the College through the sponsorship of the Defence Management and the Conflict and Crises Management Courses as well as the Counter Terrorism/Counter Improvised Explosive Devices package. We are most grateful for this gesture.

Our gratitude also goes to the German Government for the sponsorship of the Peace Operations Course in collaboration with the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre. 

I must also commend the Government of the United Kingdom for the sponsorship of officers from sister African countries on courses at the College. For Course 41, the UK Government sponsored 10 such officers and we are most grateful for the opportunity you continue to offer our officers to network and to cross-fertilise ideas.

For the civilians who pursued the Master of Science in Defence and International Politics programme, I urge you to reflect the values of time management, leadership and the sense of duty you have acquired here as you return to your respective institutions and organisations. You remain ambassadors of this renowned Institution and you owe it as a responsibility to the College to ensure that the knowledge you have gained here will manifest in your work environment and in whatever sphere of life you find yourselves.

May I now express my gratitude to the various institutions who continue to lend the needed support to the College that enables it to keep pace in its reputation as a Centre of Excellence. The outstanding role of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) in providing direction and mentorship to the College is very much acknowledged.

Let me once again express my appreciation to the Chairman of the Governing Board, the Rector and his staff for their tireless effort in this regard. It is my hope that the relationship between your two institutions will be a good example to other institutions in the country.

I am also informed that other partners who have supported the College include the Ghana Maritime Authority, Ghana Shippers Authority, the Forestry Commission and the CDH Group.  I wish to express my profound gratitude to you all for your kind gestures. 

During my address at the 2019 Joint Graduation Ceremony for Course 40 of the College, I pledged to ensure that funds are made available for the completion of the students’ accommodation. I am glad to note that the construction of the 54-Unit residential accommodation funded through the GET-Fund is near completion.

As mentioned in the Commandant’s report, these facilities have enabled the College to expand its intake at both the Junior and Senior Divisions by additional 10 students each and to accommodate other sister security services who join the College for modular courses.

Let me assure High Command of Government’s desire to continue to support infrastructural development in the College in particular and the Ghana Armed Forces in general. The retooling of the three Services is very paramount in our quest to modernise the operations of the Armed Forces and allied security services to support national development.

To the graduates, you have earned your certificates through your measure of hard work. But I believe you have also been transformed as great actors at the operations level. And ready to showcase your knowledge and understanding of strategic thinking. You have also been equipped with the great analytical, communication, leadership and managerial skills to operate smoothly in your next higher appointments.

These are qualities and skills that would help you achieve the highest standards in today’s multifaceted defence, security and global political arena.

The ultimate goal therefore of obtaining a ‘pass staff college’ (psc) symbol and a Master of Science in Defence and International Politics (MDIP) degree from this revered Institution should therefore be of immense pride to any officer of the Armed Forces, other security services, Ministries, Departments, Agencies and related organizations. 

I extend my sincere congratulations to all of you, graduates of Senior Command and Staff Course 41 and the MDIP Class of 2020 for diligently applying yourselves to your studies and emerging victorious.

As I commend all of you for your sterling performances on the course, I wish to take the opportunity to congratulate all the award winners especially Major K. A Appau for winning the Honour Graduate Award. Be reminded that winning the awards place additional responsibilities on you.  Your work output should be unquestionable and should at all times justify your award.  This recognition should encourage you to work harder to achieve greater laurels in the future.

To my Allied officers, I say “Congratulations” for being such worthy ambassadors of your respective countries.   The relationship between your countries and Ghana has been strengthened by your participation on this very important course. We are optimistic that these relationships would be strengthened through your continuous participation on the Command and Staff Course in Ghana.

It is my firm conviction that you have formed constructive impressions about our people and culture during the one year that you have been with us. I trust that as our goodwill ambassadors, you will extend the good wishes of our humble and hospitable people to your people, your Armed Forces and to your governments.

I wish all of you safe journey back home and happy re-union with your families and loved ones.  You are always welcome to Ghana which has now become your second home. 

May I, at this stage, through you the graduates, extend my congratulations to your spouses for the sacrifices they made over the period of your studies. Surely, they cannot be left out of the success story of this day, having ensured that you had the peace of mind to pursue the course and that there was stability at home while you focused on achieving this great feat. We should celebrate them.

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen. I wish to express my sincerest gratitude to the Minister for Defence and the Staff College Control Board for their commitment, dedication and the direction they continue to give the College. 

I urge them to remain innovative and resourceful as they have done in the past to meet the challenges of contemporary defence management.  I am also profoundly grateful to the Commandant, and past Commandants and Staff for projecting the image of the College to this enviable status.  Let us continue to translate this sense of selflessness into our national lives. 

I thank all those who were engaged in the planning and execution of this impressive ceremony.  Finally, to our Distinguished Guests who graced this graduation with your presence, I wish you safe journey back home. 

I thank you all for your attention. 

God bless us all.  God Bless our homeland Ghana