By Kofi Ampeah-Woode
And uniformed military men and women shed tears – that was the situation report at the handing/taking over ceremony of the office of General Officer Commanding (GOC), Southern Command (S/Comd), Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), when Brigadier-General Thomas Oppong-Peprah handed over the baton of leadership as GOC to Acting GOC Abraham Yeboah Nsiah.
General Oppong-Peprah, who is credited widely with great interpersonall skills and leadership qualities, was at a point emotionally overcome by the show of affection and support and had to curtail his comments at a reception held in his honour, on Friday January 4, 2019.
He surmised “you will continue to see me in this same uniform walking around with the only difference being that this time round, I will be seeing to your welfare and administrative needs”.
“You have all given me inspiration to go and work harder and I pledge, in the Name of The Almighty God, that with His help, I will do just that”, the former GOC said.
Brig-Gen Oppong-Peprah has been appointed by the Commander-In-Chief of GAF, President Nana Akufo-Addo, to be the next Chief of Staff at the General Headquarters, from Tuesday, the 8th of January, 2019 after Rear Admiral Moses Beick-Baffour ends his duty-tour on the 4th of January.
General Oppong-Peprah was the first Armoured Officer of GAF to be appointed as the substantive GOC S/Comd and assumed duty on the 3rd of February, 2017 as he took over from Brig-Gen Musah Whajah (rtd).
Under Brig-Gen Oppong-Peprah’s tenure, S/Comd brought calm to conflict areas such as Alavanyo, Nkonya and Kpassah, in the Volta Region and also disarmed and arrested armed elements that used to attack Forestry Commission taskforce members in the Western Region.
The Command spent time and effort to train hard and well to win every contest that the Army conducted and for particular mention is the Army Command/Formation Sports and the Army Command/Formation Shooting – which they cleared every single honour of all fourteen awards at stake.
The brigade’s training exercises included Ex Tigers’ Path 2017 (which the Command is reigning champion), Ex Starlight Stretch 2017 (an old-time Army exercise revived by General Oppong-Peprah), Ex Kullum Shirri – Ex March and Shoot, Inter-Units Drill Competition and Master Commando.
Within less than two years of leadership, his Command accomplished the following: 6-unit block self-contained accommodation for soldiers, accommodation block for guards at the Headquarters Eastern Gate, asphalted the HQ’s square, main road and parking lot.
He has also built a biogas facility that channels all waste at the HQ barracks into a biogas pot, renovated the following – office accommodation block, Other Ranks’ (OR) Cookhouse, accommodation for Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), Unit’s Armoury and the Kpeshie Health Center.
Additionally, General Oppong-Peprah completed the Quarter-Guard accommodation at the main gate – which was started by his predecessor, built a new Military Police post, installed CCTV cameras at the HQ and provided modern firefighting equipment for the HQ.
He also provided chemistry and haematology analyzers at the Kpeshie Health Center to enable them undertake all types of tests without referring to the 37 Military Hospital, a prefabricated admission unit for the medical center, etc.
An attribute that tells who he has been that triggered security personnel – who are not supposed to show emotions in uniform was his humanness. He said “Lt-Gen GK Arkafia (whom I was ADC to, once said that ‘at the terminal point of one’s command, it is not so much about the appointment that you leave behind but all the wonderful people you part company with'”.
“Special thanks to Mr Ghost who always made my office clean and fresh and yet I never knew him. I cannot please everyone, so please forgive me if I stepped on your toes, since it depicts that I am only human”.
The Command Chief Operations Officer (COO), Colonel George Sam, in his capacity as Commanding Officer (CO) of the HQ, deriving power from consensus gathered by the entire staff of the HQ, cited the exceptional human relations, excellent military professionalism and dedication to troops welfare, thus declared the HQ square, the OPPONG-PEPRAH SQUARE.