July 20, 2011

Veterans Administration Ghana Bill 2010 on Monday passed the test of a second reading.

Defence Minister Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith (Retired) moved the motion.

When passed into law the bill will not only acknowledge the immense contribution of military service personnel to the country’s political emancipation, but also to world peace through service with the United Nations.

The bill is being initiated as a result of government recognition of the state of frustration, despair and helplessness of the veterans of the World War I and II, who had returned home only to realize there was no scheme for their resettlement and rehabilitation.

The Ghana Legion Act 1960, which was repealed in 1974, replaced the Ghana Legion Decree 1974 (NCRD 285). It was to cater for the welfare of the all ex-servicemen in Ghana and foster the spirit of comradeship among them and provide free legal aid.

However with time, new concerns emerged regarding the welfare of the veterans, which called for a review of the decree to make it more relevant in order to meet the needs of the veterans today.

The bill will create a governing body vested with the authority to seek and protect the welfare of the veterans of Ghana.

The 28-Clause bill is divided into four sections –Veteran Administration, Regional District Local Councils, Financial and Administrative Provisions and Miscellaneous Provisions.

Alhaji Abubakari Sumani, Chairman of the Committee for Defence and Interior, said the Committee proposed renaming the organization and was unanimous that “Legion” was no longer appropriate because it was colonial and an ancient Roman Army term and endorsed the “Veterans” as more appropriate to the ex-servicemen.

Supporting the motion, Mr William Ofori Boafo, NPP member for Akwapim Akropong, called on the Veterans Association of Ghana to liaise with similar associations in the world to be able to share ideas and experiences on the development of the Association as vibrant one.

He called for the establishment of the Veteran Fund that would be used to cater for the needs of the veterans, who sacrificed their lives for peace.

Mr Alfred Agbesi NDC member for Ashaiman said since the Second World War most of the veterans had lived in abject poverty and squalor with some of them living in their home towns in deplorable conditions.

He said nothing could be good than this bill that would take care of their welfare and called on all to support it.

Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah NPP member for Afigya Sekyere West said honouring the ex-servicemen must go beyond medals to embrace their welfare, adding that Ghana must emulate America that took good care of the veterans.

The veterans, he said, had contributed so immensely to the democracy of Ghana, adding that their efforts in modern times peacekeeping made Ghana very proud.

He noted that the veterans were well trained and stated that they could be productive in many sectors long after retirement.

Mr Kan–Dapaah said the practice of harassing veterans for their perceived affiliation with a political party was not good for Ghana.

Mr Rashid Pelpuo, Deputy Majority Leader, said the bill was very important as it would give hope to the young ones who joined the forces.

Dr Francis Dawaana Dakura, NDC member for Jirapa said the ex-servicemen deserved to be adorned as heroes and heroines for fighting for world freedom.