Major General Odartey Wellington born as Major General Neville Alexander Odartey Wellington in 1939 at Osu in Accra.
He went to Accra Academy secondary school in Accra which is in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana and other military institutions including:
- The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS or RMA Sandhurst), which is commonly known as Sandhurst, is one of several military academies of the United Kingdom and is the British Army’s initial officer training centre. It is located in the town of Sandhurst, Berkshire, though its ceremonial entrance is in Camberley, southwest of London.
- The United States Army Infantry School is a school which is located at Fort Benning, Georgia, that is dedicated to training infantry men for service in the United States Army.
He graduated as a successful officer. After being commissioned as an officer, he saw action in Congo war during the Congo Crisis, and also served in the Ghanaian UNIFIL contingent in the Middle East in Africa.
Major General Odartey-Wellington married Comfort his beautiful wife and they gave birth to 5 children: Comfort, Esther, Dorothy, Michael, and Felix.
During times under the National Redemption Council (NRC) and the Supreme Military Council I (SMC I) governments led by General I.K. Acheampong, Major General Odartey-Wellington served in various military commands and civil administrative positions. He was the Chief Executive of the Ghana Timber Marketing Board, Minister of Health and later the Minister of Agriculture tasked with implementing Acheampong’s “Operation Feed Yourself” program for the country, before he was moved to the position of Commander, in the Infantry Brigade Group in 1977. He was believed to have led the palace coup d’etat that removed General I.K Acheampong as Head of State in July in 1978.
In the reconstituted SMC regime which was led by General F.W.K. Akuffo, Major General Odartey-Wellington was promoted from being a brigadier to a Major General, and he became the Army Commander, a member of the SMC’s regime. With his capacity as a member, Odartey-Wellington led the Ghanaian delegation to the General Debate of the 33rd session of the UN General Assembly in October 1978, where, apart from delivering an attack on the Ian Smith regime which was then Rhodesia, as well as South Africa’s apartheid policy and its occupation of Namibia, he reaffirmed Ghana’s commitment to Palestinian self-determination, including the option to establish an independent State in the country.
The SMCII then commenced the transition to multi-party democratic rule, but it was overthrown in a bloody coup d’etat on June 4, 1979, by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) which was led by Flight. Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings during which Major General Odartey-Wellington was killed while leading the troops.
Retired Major Ibrahim Rida described everything that happened: “They just opened fire. They just opened fire, the former soldier still appeared shaken by the 41-year-old story. “He was shot and as he was lying down dying, the normal way was for Major General Odartey Wellington to have been given medical aid immediately. Instead they opened the fire on his body with a machine gun.They fired so much into his body that his flesh started to shred out. They literally shredded out his whole body.”
However, in 1978, General Acheampong was accused of mismanaging the economy and he was forced to resign by a group of army officers who were led by General Akuffo. Although the coup d’etat they had was successful, he was buried by the new regime with full military honours at the Ghana Military Cemetery at Osu, in Accra.
On May 15th, 1979, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings was arrested and imprisoned by the military after he led a group of Ghanaian army officers who were Juniors in an attempted coup d’état against them. On June 3rd 1979, in the night, a group of junior officers including Major Boakye Djan and a list of personnels of the Fifth Battalion and the Reconnaissance Regiment in Burma Camp proposed a bloody coup and freed Flt.Lt.J.J.Rawlings.
On June 4, 1979, in the morning, Ghana was ushered int it’s beautiful life with an announcement on the radio by Flight Lieutenant Rawlings with a change in the government by the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC). Major General Odartey-Wellington had earlier prevented the first coup which was attempted by Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings on May 15, 1979. It has been 42 years since the Revolution of June 4 happened in 1979.
As the Chief of Army Staff head, the death of Odartey-Wellington, had to be joined with that of the Chief of Defence Staff head Lieutenant General Joshua Hamidu, who then compromised the ability of the SMCII to draw back from the June 4th revolt. His colleagues later on surrendered and most of them were executed without any process by the new regime. After the death of Major General Odartey-Wellington, he was survived by his wife Comfort and their five children: Comfort, Esther, Dorothy, Michael, and Felix.
Mrs Comfort Odartey-Wellington died in 1997 and was buried next to her husband at the Osu Military Cemetery. Odartey-Wellington’s children have since been involved in high-profile meetings in the press with Jerry Rawlings, the chairman who led the 4 June 1979 coup that resulted in the killing of the former Army Commander, Odartey Wellington. One of the meetings resulted in the detention of Felix Odartey-Wellington, one of the children of Odartey Wellington by Ghana’s Bureau of National Investigations(BNI) in 2000 after he had described Rawlings as a “political conman” on the national television.
Ghana’s National Reconciliation Commission has highly commended Odartey-Wellington for his sense of duty and “daring leadership” in trying to bring up the revolt so as to guard the transition process in safety. In September 1995, the Ghana Army commissioned the multi-million cedi Odartey-Wellington Tennis Court at the Army Officers’ Mess in Accra in honour of the late Army Commander, who was an avid tennis player.