Feature Article of Sunday, 31 July 2011
Columnist: Kyeremeh, Fred
The level of ignorance and naivety being demonstrated by the NDC government towards the acquisition of the aircrafts is really astonishing. Their reasons and excuses for the purchase are embarrassing to say the least. The fact that we have a government, with so-called competent ministers who cannot rationally substantiate the need to make such a lofty purchase is chilling. The uproar from the public, and the Minority in particular, is not a matter of WHY, but more an issue of HOW. Of course the military can make use of some few Jets, but in these times of global economic austerity, how do you justify the “immediate need” for these aircrafts? What is the urgency for the purchase of five aircrafts?
Baba Jamal, the Deputy Information minister in an attempt to explain these excesses of the NDC government stated that the aircrafts can be used to fight armed robbery in Ghana. Unless the NDC intends to bomb armed robbers on the streets of Accra and elsewhere I fail to see the logic behind that statement from a government spokesman. As if that was not enough, the president in an attempt to buttress his reasons for the purchase of the aircrafts during his recent visit to the flood victims in the Eastern Region, alluded that situations like the floods are the reasons why the country need the aircrafts; under what basis does our Head of State draw a correlation between the unfortunate floods and these aircrafts? Again, in Baba Jamal’s sycophantic attempt to help his boss’ incoherent reasoning, suggested that the planes could have been used to rescue some of the victims who were trapped in trees.
It is disturbing that we have ministers who should be knowledgeable about this case such as the Defense and Finance Ministers. They should be able to explain why and how we should make these purchases because it is their ministries who may hopefully play a critical role in the acquisition process; yet they are mum. We have now been left at the mercy of empty-headed coxcombs like Okudjeto Ablakwa, Baba Jamal, and Co, so-called information ministers, blatantly insulting the intelligence of Ghanaians with their nonsense. Ablakwa has the audacity to say the NDC cannot honor the Minority’s request to review the Pro Forma invoice due to National Security reasons. These are documents that should have been readily provided and reviewed by the appropriate committees in parliament in any serious legislature before a purchase of this magnitude is made. We have a president who cloaks himself behind the castle pillars, and allow an uncouth lad, like Okudjeto Ablakwa to speak for him in pertinent national matters without his input? This is a sacrilegious indictment on the Atta Mills administration. It is high time our president demonstrates to Ghanaians that he is fit to be the Commander-In-Chief.
The military like any institution, believes it needs more to do more, so would naturally ask for more. But every government no matter how big or small must be able to balance real manpower and resource needs in times of diminished reserves. The NDC government should take a cue from Bob Woodward’s book “Obama Wars.” In the midst of a global financial crisis, and fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; the newly elected US president told his Generals “Ask for whatever you need from me to do your job well, but understand that I don’t have infinite resources; at the end of the day it is my job to balance your needs against the needs of the entire nation.”
This decision is a misplaced priority at a time when we have our university students on streets demonstrating over increased fees; It is unguided when we have over 12,000 people displaced by floods, and have not figured out how they would be appropriately resettled. It is economically unwise because we are spending money we don’t have to satisfy our whims and caprices, when we have pressing needs to fulfill. Ghana undoubtedly has more critical exigencies which require immediate attention.
President Atta Mills can give his Better Ghana agenda a much needed boost if he rescinds his decision, and not blindly (I don’t mean that literally) follow other countries. He should rather do a careful analysis of what the security agencies need and the cost-effectiveness of those needs then compare it to the other pressing needs in the country, it is my hope that he can see clearly then . Fred Kyeremeh
US Army Veteran, Connecticut, USA