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Opinions of Friday, 22 January 2016

Columnist: Adoboe, Justice Lee

From Guantanamo Bay; a Happy New Year gift to Independent Ghana

By Justice Lee Adoboe

Whether Ghanaians and their leaders can withstand subtle foreign aggression which comes sometimes in the form of imposition of unpalatable decisions on sovereign states depends on how soon the country can stand on its own and wean itself off donor support.

In 2003, Ghana signed a bilateral agreement with the United States of America which stipulated that Ghana would not surrender any US service person to the International Criminal Court in case that service person committed an act of genocide.

The then opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) led in parliament by Hon. A.S.K Bagbin opposed the ratification vehemently, albeit losing 53 votes to 101 to the then majority New Patriotic Party.
America rewarded Ghana with what turned out to be the first tranche of 547 million -U.S. Dollar Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) grant, part of which was used to construct the N1 George Walker Bush Highway. That was what Sheikh Isaac Cudjoe Quaye, former Greater Accra Regional Minister in the NPP regime, described as "The money is big oh!"

While Ghana awaits the second compact of 498 million dollars preconditioned on reforming the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) from the MCA, two former terror suspects held in Guantanamo Bay for 14 years have been released to settle in Ghana for the next two years as a New Year present, to the chagrin of many sections of the Ghanaian society.

Every student of American foreign policy is aware of the oft-trumpeted cliché that the US has no permanent friends but permanent interests.

The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, including all the Bureaus and Offices in the United States Department of State [1] as mentioned in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the Department of State are "to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community” (Wikipedia).
The adage that says ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’ must not be lost on Ghanaians as a people.
History will show that even the loan for building the Akosmbo Dam may have benefitted America more than Ghana, in that, the establishment of the Volta Aluminum Company (VALCO) was tied to that loan.
“VALCO did not invest without first requiring assurances from Ghana's government, incentives such as company exemptions from taxes on trade and discounted purchases of electricity (Wikipedia).”
While VALCO consumed 80 percent of the power generated from Akosombo, three countries, Ghana, Togo and Benin, depended on the remaining 20 percent.
The timing of Kaiser’s pulling out of VALCO and the current challenges the dam faces might not be mere coincidences: “we’ve been f**ked,” is the way Americans put it.
Nigeria has been able to ban successfully the importation of chicken and poultry products but Ghana’s attempt during the President Kufuor era was nipped in the bud by our so-called western partners.
One recent development Ghanaians and indeed Africans have to watch carefully, with a lot of interest is the American stated desire to help solve Ghana and Africa’s energy crisis. Will these overtures not turn out to accepting a Trojan Horse?
It is instructive and interesting to note that ever since news broke about the ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees, our two ex-presidents, Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor, as well as the NPP Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo have remained silent.
Is this silence golden or it is really because they are well aware of the direct and indirect consequences of the diplomatic and economic overtures towards the country during their reign?
The overriding evidence from the way our country has been run over the years, especially after the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah and except during the era of Gen. Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, the rest of our leaders have been subjected to the whims and caprices of foreign powers whose bidding Ghana is just too willing to do.
Meanwhile, these powers will always act to protect their lands, and create the right atmosphere for their private sector to thrive on.
Until such time that we are able to wean ourselves from the apron strings of these powers, our country would remain an extension of Number 10 Downing Street, the White House, and the Palais de l'Élysée (Élysée Palace) Bundeskanzleramt (German Chancellery) and other power bases.
In doing this, our leaders must come to the realization of what sovereignty entails and avoid partnerships that would have far reaching negative ramifications for the country in future.
“There is no monetary consideration and the US itself would have disclosed if there was any monetary consideration. We have been allies with the United States for a very long time; we have partnered in a lot of things: It didn’t start today and we continue to collaborate in areas of security, training with our armed forces and in areas of defense,” was President Mahama’s explanation of what Ghana gains from partnering the US on this issue.
Revered statesman K. B Asante’s take on the issue is insightful. He stresses that Ghana’s founding president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, would have accepted the ex-Gitmo detainees in Ghana after appraising the situation.
“We should ask for something, assistance, not monetary or any other but real assistance in the matter of security because, let’s face fact, and if you don’t face facts in this world, you go haywire, the Americans we may not like them - I’m not pro-American but they have methods. They have the facilities to follow these people, to tell us what these people are,” the evergreen statesman declared.
The above quote from K.B Asante sums it up: Ghana’s foreign policy must be based on the country’s permanent interests.
It took what Raymond C. Ewing, U.S Ambassador to Ghana between 1989 and 1992, describes as ”Scarf Diplomacy” a rare gesture from such an African revolutionary leader like Jerry John Rawlings to President George Bush Snr. to rebuild relations between Ghana and the US. (An incident that transpired between Rawlings and Bush Snr at the funeral in Tokyo of Emperor Hirohito rawlings/?fdx_switcher=true).
Having run a revolutionary state for close to a decade, the military leader may have realized how strategic partnering America would be as the cold war was waning and not much help was coming from the communist block and Eastern Europe to his country anyway.
Subsequently, the long hand of America’s foreign policy has been very present in dictating the pace and affairs in Ghana’s democratization process, through covert and overt channels, especially through the facilitation of the formation of stronger than usual so-called think tanks that are loud in the affairs of Ghana’s democracy.
All countries which know what they want and what is good for them in the near-through the medium to long-term seek alliances with other nations, and Ghana must not be left out.
These realities are not completely unique to Ghana per se, since globalization also comes along the issue of interdependence in which there are some actions and demands a sovereign nation might not be able to avoid completely.
However, it must be admitted that, in spite of the strategic alliances Ghana may strike with other nations, big or small, powerful or minor, the overriding interests of the present and future generations of Ghana must underpin such alliances. Enditem.