Member of Parliament for North Tongu in the Volta region Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has questioned the unusual silence of President Akufo-Addo over the military pact between Ghana and United States.
“Sir, your decision to strangely adopt a silent posture on the outside while there was a lot of activity behind the scenes to hurriedly negotiate and ratify this agreement by abusing your parliamentary majority without taking on board the concerns of the people who gave you your mandate is most deplorable,” Ablakwa noted in a lengthy open letter addressed to the President.
On Friday, March 23, a one-sided parliament ratified the 2018 controversial defence cooperation agreement between Ghana and the US.
The agreement was brought before the House for consideration and ratification after the joint-committee on Defence and Interior, Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs of Parliament gave it a greenlight.
This is despite massive public protest against the deal which many including the largest opposition described as “dangerous” and a sale of Ghana’s sovereignty.
Below are details of the open letter to the President
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa writes….
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF GHANA AND COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE GHANA ARM ED FORCES, HIS EXCELLENCY NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO
YOUR SILENCE AND STONEWALLING IS UNDEMOCRATIC AND NOT IN OUR NATIONAL INTEREST
I humbly and respectfully convey to you very warm compliments.
May I also afford this opportunity to extend to you heartfelt belated happy birthday wishes of good health, happiness and a deeper patriotic love for Ghana.
Your Excellency, I am compelled to write this open letter for your urgent attention due to your rather unusual, strange and uncharacteristic but determined cold silence on the most crucial issue agitating the minds of Ghanaians, thus “the agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Ghana on Defence Cooperation, the Status of United States Forces, and Access to and Use of Agreed Facilities and Areas in the Republic of Ghana” which your majority Members of Parliament defiantly ratified on the 23rd of March, 2018 to conclude the processes you and your Government initiated.
Sir, I must state from the outset that as has never been in doubt, we in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) cherish and value Ghana’s long-standing relations with the United States of America. It is therefore not surprising that the NDC has hosted two of the three high level US Presidential State visits of this Fourth Republic – that is the visit of President Bill Clinton and that of President Barack Obama. That said, we believe relations with the United States of America and all other countries are nourished and better anchored on mutual respect, trust, fairness, shared values and the recognition of the sovereignty of nations. It is these cardinal principles within our nation’s foreign policy paradigm of positive neutrality and non-alignment as clearly espoused and established by our country’s founding President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah that continues to inspire us, especially as they have served this nation very well over the ages.
As you well know Mr. President, just a day before your birthday, precisely on the 28th of March, 2018, a mammoth demonstration took place in Accra which was a culmination of your refusal to listen to the people you serve after weeks of persistent pressure and appeals to you from Ghanaians of diverse backgrounds and varying political persuasion seeking your executive intervention in at least addressing the genuine fears of the people emanating from the agreement in issue.
The “Put Ghana First Demonstration” organized by the Ghana Fist Patriotic Front (GFPF) with support from the Interparty Coalition for National Sovereignty and the Minority caucus in Parliament attracted the masses, progressive forces, student leaders, unions, experts, high ranking former public officials including former Vice President and former Chairman of the Police Council, His Excellency Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, former National Security Minister Hon. Kofi Totobi Quakyi and a host of former Ministers, Ambassadors and academics who, I humbly submit, cannot all be ignorant as your Government Communicators have arrogantly and offensively sought to portray.
Mr. President, as a longtime political activist (for which you earned the “yenim no fri titi” accolade) and a celebrated serial organizer of demonstrations –including those of the “Kumipreko” and “Siemipreko” fame -– I am sure you will be the first to admit that the several thousands of Ghanaians who participated in that massive march and the overwhelming number of Ghanaians, some of whom voted for you who are either through newspaper or online articles, media discussions or social media commentary pleading with you to listen, cannot and do not deserve to be ignored. Other eminent persons of enormous experience such as former President Jerry John Rawlings, Ghana’s longest serving Foreign Minister, Dr. Obed Asamoah, former Council of State Member and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Akilakpa Sawyerr who have all cautioned against this agreement do not deserve to be dismissed by the way and manner their concerns have been brushed aside and this agreement railroaded.
Sir, your decision to strangely adopt a silent posture on the outside while there was a lot of activity behind the scenes to hurriedly negotiate and ratify this agreement by abusing your parliamentary majority without taking on board the concerns of the people who gave you your mandate is most deplorable.
With all due respect, Sir, we have all come to know you in the 14 months of your Presidency as the President who does not hesitate to speak. Indeed, you have often flaunted your gift of the gab both home and abroad and we all know you love it when the feedback is great – I am reminded of a recent testimony of this when you met journalists to commemorate your first anniversary as President and went on about how your remarks during a media event with the visiting French President, Emmanuel Macron had assumed a life of its own with very rare reviews.
That is not all, we have seen how you have quite often ignored good counsel and chosen to comment on matters that many consider prejudicial and awkward. Just two examples will suffice for now; your lengthy intervention during the Parliamentary Probe on the Cash for Seats Scandal and the praises you heaped on Mr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong of Zoomlion. We do know that both acts attracted condemnation from anti-corruption crusaders.
Mr. President, as you will concede, Ghanaians watch their leaders very closely and in our often quintessential humorous fashion provide a nick name which aptly describes their leaders. A few examples: Kwame Nkrumah earned “Nkrumah Show Boy,” John Evans Atta Mills earned “Asomdwehene,” John Mahama earned “Commissioner General,” and Sir, you have fast earned “King Promise.” So with all due respect, Sir, Ghanaians know you love to talk and that even long after your successful 2016 campaign, you continue to “talk big” by making more promises.
Respectfully, Mr. President, you can therefore understand why most of us are extremely surprised at your sudden belief in silence. Your silence on the agreement in issue is very much out of character and we are sincerely befuddled. Everybody is saying this is not the man we have known from “titi.”
As you have noted, Sir, your silence and the attempt to divert attention from the debate on the Ghana-US Military Cooperation Agreement by the high-handed and dramatic arrest of Koku Anyidoho and the change of name of the Flagstaff House to Jubilee House have so far not worked according to plan. As I write to you, Sir, discussions on this matter and its related concerns have been escalating both at the domestic level and on the foreign front. The international media (BBC, Reuters, Fox News, Al Jazeera, RT, the New York Times, etc.) are awash with reports of a general feeling of betrayal of the Ghanaian people by your Government and you.
Mr President, we have to be honest, the cold silence and stone-walling approach does not only amount to a dereliction of duty, it is making matters worse by impairing your international image and I really feel sad about this. When it comes to the international image of our Presidents, partisanship has no place. I was really taking pride in your international rise – the claims by some world leaders that you are the new Nkrumah – the assertion that you were emerging as one of the top 5 African leaders – the hope you were offering the African Continent with your “Ghana Beyond Aid” agenda. It’s a real tragedy that this singular agreement and US$20 million dollars threaten to destroy everything. A similar defence cooperation agreement between the Kenyan Government and the British Government which has gone viral on social media has deepened our woes and Ghana, a country used to being the trail blazer and shining example for other African countries is now becoming an object of ridicule on the continent.
Your Excellency, I am still struggling to understand the raison d’être of your uncharacteristic loud silence in the face of the following facts:
Paragraph 4 of the Preamble of the agreement in issue reveals that this agreement was triggered by your conversation with your counterpart, President Trump. The paragraph states: “Reaffirming the recent dialogue between the Presidents of the United States and Ghana on the importance of the bilateral defense relationship.”
Subsequently and as admitted by the signed memorandum from your Defence Minister to Parliament dated 14th March, 2018, your Government negotiated the terms of this agreement with US officials here in Accra under your watch on the 7th and 8th of August, 2017.
Further to this, Secretary to the Cabinet Mercy Debrah-Karikari in a letter dated 12th March, 2018 and which was dispatched to Parliament, conveyed the decision of Cabinet at its twenty-eighth meeting held on Thursday, 8th March, 2018 at which Cabinet approved this agreement. In all humility, Sir, it is well known that Article 77 (1) of the Constitution provides: “The Cabinet shall be summoned by the President who shall preside at all meetings; and in the absence of the President, the Vice-President shall preside.”
Even more fundamental, we do know that Ghana operates an Executive Presidency. Article 58 (1) through to (4) provides as follows: