Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday March 26, 2018
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been exposed over the Defence Cooperation Agreement between the governments of the United States and Ghana, which was finally ratified by Parliament last Friday amid tension in the house.
Two earlier defence agreements between the US and Ghana in 1998 and 2015 respectively have impugned the NDC’s integrity in the raging polemic over the subject.
The whole US-Ghana Military partnership was introduced during the same NDC administration in 1998 and enhanced in 2015.
But in opposition, they (NDC) have been going against deals they signed with the same country on the same subject-matter.
In all the two agreements the NDC signed with the Clinton and Obama administrations respectively, the Rawlings and Mahama administrations did not even send the agreements to Parliament for consideration.
However, it has become a heated public debate because the Akufo-Addo-led New Patriotic Party (NPP) government decided to be transparent with the people of Ghana by sending the deal to parliament for approval.
In the April 28, 2015 agreement, it was then Foreign Minister, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, who signed on behalf of the people of Ghana in faraway Stuttgart, Germany, but a careful perusal of the document does not look like the Ministry of Defense, under whose mandate the whole operation is supposed to run was even involved.
According to Prof Yaw Gyampo of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, “In all the three agreements (1998, 2015 and 2018), there are, to my mind, certain worrying provisions that allows US army to come to Ghana, occupy and control some places that they alone can access and control, bring in heavy military accoutrement that our own security agencies can’t inspect, grant the US tax free incentives to import their ammunitions to the country, permit the US to operate their equipment and drive them on our roads without license, and create a situation that places the US army in Ghana virtually above our laws.”
He said that “in the first two agreements, there were no independent means of knowing what the US were doing in Ghana. The current agreement doesn't depart from this challenge. So, regulating US activities under the agreement is difficult.”
He, however, commended Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul “for tabling the agreement before parliament,”
He urged him not to be dismissive of suggestions and overly defensive of the agreement.
It was not surprising that James Agalga, NDC MP for Builsa North in the Upper East Region, who is also Minority Spokesperson on Defence and Interior reportedly said that they did not know such an agreement was signed in 2015.
The agreement, according to Mr. Nitiwul, will enable the two countries share intelligence, particularly in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crimes in order to protect their respective interests.
According to Mr Nitiwul, the United States was seeking an understanding of the status of their troops who come to the country to train Ghanaian soldiers and vice versa and through that the move was actualized.
Two committees namely- Defence and Interior, as well as Constitutional and Legal Affairs, were asked to scrutinize the agreement before passing it to a vote on the floor of the house,
At the end of the joint committee sitting, DAILY GUIDE gathered that 13 opposition NDC MPs okayed the agreement while the ruling NPP had 10 MPs endorsing the deal.
Strangely, before the debate leading to the ratification of the agreement was held, almost every NDC national executive together with NDC political allies and some known activists fronting for other parties, had stormed the floor of Parliament to encourage their MPs to disrupt the whole process.
They were all clad in red armbands and tried to make things difficult for the Speaker of Parliament.
There have been all sorts of weird interpretation by the NDC since the agreement hit parliament.
NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, claims there is the possibility of terrorist attacks if Ghana accepts the American soldiers.
He said the NDC would abrogate the deal if it returns to power.
Mr Agalga, on the other hand, said the US could bring in nuclear weapons if the deal goes ahead.
The striking difference in the NPP’s agreement and the two previous agreements signed by the NDC (1998 and 2015) with the Americans is that in the instant case, the agreement can be nullified at anytime without even giving reasons if the government thinks it is not in favour of the people of Ghana.
An expert said “once a letter is written to this effect, the agreement terminates within one year.”
The scope of the agreement does not also mandate the US to establish a military base, as claimed by the opposition NDC and its cheerleaders.