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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Columnist: Ananya, Gabriel

US military base in Ghana: The worst move of Nana Addo's government so far

Governments across the world are formed with the core mandate of protecting the lives and properties of its citizens and seeking for the wellbeing of its citizens. However, it looks like governments in Africa have constantly failed in this regard with few exceptions. Even though Ghana over the years can boast of its political strides in being the beacon of African democracy, little or nothing can be said about its economic strides that will translate into the standard of living and wellbeing of the people in the country.

Ghana in recent times has been faced with serious security problems and one may think that as a government it will be appropriate for it to concentrate on how best to curb the security challenges in in the country. The government has made us to believe that it is doing everything possible to protect lives and properties with the interest and wellbeing of Ghanaians at heart but the leaked agreement between the government of Ghana and the United States of America (USA) suggest contrary.

The agreement allows the USA to establish a military base in Ghana with an unimaginable freedom to operate. As a student of politics and international relations, citing such documents makes me question the position of government that the wellbeing of Ghanaians is at heart of all decisions it makes. Every student of politics will know that the United States have one foreign policy which is the interest of USA and USA alone expressed in the statement made by their erstwhile leader that the USA has no permanent allies but permanent interest. The incessant saying of Trump of making USA great again must just tell us that USA has only one interest which is the USA.

If gifted scholars in Ghana can sign such an agreement then this must tell us how our politics have sunk our objectivity as a people. Upon reading such agreement this write up sought to highlight “few” (all is problematic) identified problems in the agreement and in my opinion why it is bad for Ghana.

To begin with, the agreement upon defining the persons the United States plans to bring to Ghana to work, failed to highlight the number of military personnel allowed to be brought in. This is problematic because it gives the USA room to bring forces that are more than the total number of military personnel in Ghana. The might of every military is measured by its numbers and armoury and if the number of an expatriate military force in a country is more than that of a home country it doesn’t only throw the security of the nation into question but also the sovereignty of that nation. The contract defines a United States contractor as someone or entity that is supplying goods and services to the United State forces. This leads to several questions such as what type of good and services are allowed into the country by the USA forces? What quantity? How many are reserved for Ghanaian suppliers? Assuming the USA asks an enemy of Ghana to supply certain dangerous goods to them in Ghana, can we fathom how it exposes us to our enemies? Where have we gone wrong?!

Article 4 of the agreement states what the USA party can do in Ghana and I could only identify only one that could indirectly benefit Ghana and that is support (just to be fair). However, this same article in clause 4 allows all this obligation to be subjected to the availability of funds authorised for that purpose. What this could mean is that the USA forces are not under any compulsion to support Ghana in any way possible. This allows them to declare non availability of funds as a reason for neglect to Ghana in times of need whenever it is not in their interest.

The agreement again allows the military personnel, civilian personnel, contractors and others be treated like diplomats. This means that even in times where any of them goes contrary to the laws of Ghana they cannot be charged in Ghana. When a country gives little regard to the importance of its sovereignty in such matters it definitely becomes an issue of concern. The founders of Ghana placed a lot of emphasis on the leading role of Ghana in Africa when it comes to international relations but some agreements like this explains why Ghana have not been successful in doing so in recent times.

As if the above is not enough the agreement gives entry control to facilities to the United States. How can the country allow this? The USA can do whatever it wants in these facilities and Ghana cannot monitor it. That is, they let you know what they want you to know.

One of the outstanding blunders on the part of Ghana probably will be the tax, custom duty exemption and the non-inspection of importation and exportation. Our government have been loud on letting us know the financial constraints on the country so one will think that the government will explore all avenues to raise revenue to the government. The tax exemption given to the personnel coming to work in these facilities raise questions on the commitment of the government to raise revenue for development. The non-inspection of goods and services brought in by the USA under the agreement is for me the most unpardonable error on behalf of the government. This agreement means the USA can build nuclear weapons and bring chemicals into this country without our knowledge and what if it has health complications which is the least of possibilities that can happen under such lacuna in the agreement.

Aside the above possible consequences Ghana was opened itself with such an agreement to serious security issues. I think the country with this agreement is calling for the worst canker of the 21st century i.e. Terrorism on itself. This is an open claim to the fact that we are allies to the USA and this makes us a target to the enemies of USA. Burkina Faso our close neighbour to the north had its fair share of terrorism after meddling in the terrorism issues in France and one would have thought that we would learn from that. Economically, China, Russia and others who oppose the USA might take drastic economic measures towards us which its impact will be unbearable to the ordinary Ghanaian.

Come to think of it, the agreement allows military personnel from USA enter and leave Ghana at will with just an Identification card. What?! What if some unscrupulous America’s forge such identification cards and come and misbehave in Ghana. I know who can tell me that America is advanced in technology but mind you they have had their fair share of cyber-attacks. Our entry points are already porous and I think this will even worsen it. If the agreement allows the USA access to certain vital information in Ghana then what prominence are we giving to our intelligence agencies?

Even though the government of the New Patriotic Party is taking the fall for this I think Ghana as a country must come to a point where we have a clear cut foreign policy across all sectors. In the 4th Republic it looks like the foreign policy of Ghana is at the whims and caprices of the political parties that form the government. This is the right time to pursue the old policy of non-alignment not theoretically but practically so as to open as to opportunities on both sides of the international divide. Ghana falls shorts in all the main determinants of foreign policy hence must tread cautiously in taking decisions that involves the use of our security apparatus. I believe this is the time Ghana must concentrate on pressing issues facing it in the form of sanitation, unemployment, crime, empowering citizens and what have you. Let see how best be catch up and possibly overtake Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, Rwanda and a host of other “colleague” countries which seem fast advancing than us. The right time to concentrate on our own issues than that of others is now.

To conclude, I think this is one of the worst international agreement ever made in Ghana. It makes it difficult for the youth to believe in the vision of the nation since people we believe and look up to cannot be forgiven for taking such a decision. Such an agreement leaves one thinking if the government have the interest of the country and the future generation at heart. We cannot lower the bar like that. I will entreat the government to reconsider its decision and rethink through such an agreement. The agreement never stated an explicit benefit to Ghana so why did we sign it? If nothing is done about this I will be forced to agree with the member of parliament of North Tong constituency Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa that this agreement is the darkest thing to ever happen to Ghana after the overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966.
Till we see things the right way, the better for us all


By: Ananya, Gabriel

Email :gabriel.ananya99@gmail.com