I react to your recent letter to President Akufo-Addo on his address to the nation on 5th April 2018 clarifying issues emerging from the Ghana US military cooperation Agreement. This is how you perceived the President’s address:
“When you signed off, I felt, for the first time, that I had wasted my time listening to you. With all due respect, you wasted my ears and precious airtime! Your speech lacked substance. It was empty.”
The President of the Republic wasted your ears and precious airtime? With this assessment, you proceeded to educate the President on his duty as Commander in Chief:
“Your duty as the President and Commander in Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces is to convince us that you are acting in our interest.”
When did whoever educate you that the duty of the Commander in Chief is to convince the general public that he is acting in our interest? Does he then convince 100% of the population or 50% plus one? When did you amend Ghana’s Constitution or formulate this policy for the Ghana Armed Forces? The duty of the Commander in Chief includes, but not limited to, securing and defending the territory and interests of Ghana. He does not, perforce, need to convince us in this exercise. At best he informs and assures the nation of what he considers the best course of action he has taken. Read again how the President discharged this obligation:
“We were satisfied that the conditions which necessitated the Agreement, namely the creeping threat to the peace of the region, had not disappeared. If anything, the threat had increased and, therefore, the need had arisen for continuing with our co-operation.
“The President had to assure Ghana and he did just that. It is virtually not possible to convince the entire country as you seek to assign him to do. Secondly, his assurance to the nation disproves your claim that the address was directed at his political opponents or those with anti-American sentiments. This is the Commander in Chief informing the good people of Ghana that the threat to the peace of the entire region had increased hence the need to continue cooperating with the US militarily. That was the essence of his address.
This explicit assurance notwithstanding, you stated that “Last night you shifted the discussion from benefit to Ghana to the security of the sub region”. Is this a case of unbridled ignorance or saturated arrogance or sheer mischief to misunderstand and misconstrue and misinterpret and misinform? The President informs the nation that the Agreement is not about any financial benefit to Ghana per se but the security of the entire sub region. And you accuse the President of shifting posts when he was actually explaining that the overarching importance for Ghana to thrive in a safe haven within the sub region had informed his action. Do you still miss his point? Don’t you see it?
After assuring the nation that he was acting in our collective interest, he then tackled an internal issue which has the potential to derail the peace and stability of Ghana if it is not nipped in the bud. When his political opponents threaten to overthrow Ghana’s democracy, feign ignorance of the provisions of the Agreement which are virtually the same which obtained in the 1998 and 2015 Agreements negotiated and signed under their tenure, incite a section of the people to demonstrate against the government, portray the US as infidels and burn their flag, whilst in the same space of time deploy their MPs working on the Joint Committee on Defence & Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to recommend the ratification of the same Agreement by Parliament, there ariseth the need for the President to take issues with this emerging lack of integrity from his political opponents. Any country with integrity challenges can seldom develop. This is a security threat and the President had to deal with it.
Were his political opponents to be insulting his person, he would not have minded these unwholesome distractions as has always been his disposition. But the threat to overthrow our democracy and lack of integrity had unfavourable undertones which can reverberate the foundation of the nation and this necessitated a mention in his address. Surgeons incise when necessary. So should the Commander in Chief deal with an invidious enemy of state. I therefore fully concur with the President. And for a man whose father had been overthrown by a coup d’etat and has fought, more than many in this country, to ensure that the democracy we enjoy today is entrenched and not toppled by any insurrection, he had no option than to take issues with the creeping lack of integrity being sown and nurtured by his political opponents. Once upon a time Jesus Christ was angry and had to whip in public church leaders who should have known better. I doff my hat to the President for doing the needful.
Manasseh Azure, you claim further that the President lumped all well-meaning critics as political opponents promoting anti-American sentiments. To quote you: you sunk even lower to describe your critics as promoting anti-American sentiments. You then quoted the President to affirm your claim:
“And how else would we have exposed the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst, at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to populist constituency?”
The quote you provided shows that the President did not say what you sought to ascribe to him. He referred to “some frontline politicians”. Not all politicians. Not all political opponents. Not all critics but some frontline politicians. You can therefore not use a comment expressly targeted at some frontline politicians and redirect it to all critics to shore up a case against the President. This is shameful and a dive too deep into pettiness. If I were you, I would retract - your evidence does not prove your accusation and it is too clear as to question the motive for your diatribe against the President.
I have hereby demonstrated that:
The President on 5th April commenced his speech by explaining to Ghanaians that the increasing threat to security in the sub region had necessitated the Agreement. Later in the course of his speech, he zeroed in on the hypocrisy of some frontline politicians in feigning ignorance at the provisions in the Agreement. Your claim that his “address was more of an attack on his political opponents” could thus not be substantiated.You have also been unable to prove that the address lacked substance. The President affirmed that “Ghana has not offered a military base to the US” and this clarification alone has ended the 24/7 brouhaha on this issue. That is substance.
Manasseh, you proceeded to accuse the President of hypocrisy. Your words: “Nana Akufo-Addo, you have lost your moral right to call your political opponents hypocrites because that’s your stock in trade.” You cited three instances to support this claim:
The GITMO 2 - Ghana under Akufo-Addo is not an autocracy. The law rules and institutions of state are made to work. Certain information not privy to the President when he was in opposition and, a subsequent Supreme Court ruling virtually made it impossible for the government to repatriate the GITMO 2. The GITMO 2 fallout cannot be upheld as a case of hypocrisy.
Ameri and Karpower energy deals - Fadi Samih Dabbousi has earlier explained that “a company under investigation is charged for any investigation initiated against it”. There is no hypocrisy here. Nana Akufo-Addo has renegotiated a bad energy deal carried over from Mahama. Ghana would use for 20 years what had previously been negotiated for ten. Gas from our oil fields, and not expensive imports crude oil procured with scarce foreign exchange, will be used to power the barge. The renegotiated deal is better and different from the previous one which he duly criticised. Wherein lies the President’s hypocrisy?
Advanced English dictionary defines hypocrisy as ‘insincerity by virtue of pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not really have”. What is hypocritical about criticising a bad deal in opposition and subsequently renegotiating the deal to better serve the interests of the people? What are the beliefs of the President that he pretends to have but lacks? Hypocrisy his stock in trade? Here again, evidence adduced crumbles and fails to prove your scurrilous claim.
The President has assured the nation that Ghana will not be offered as a military base for the US. The President’s affirmation of no military base contrasts with an article by David Vine titled “The lily-pad strategy: how the Pentagon is quietly transforming its overseas base empire”. Rachel Boynton’s documentary “Big Men” also alludes that the US is interested in the oilfields in Ghana. This school of thought contends that although a cooperation agreement between Ghana and the US has existed since 1998, the new oil finds could be an additional advantage for the US to protect its growing interests in Ghana. Whilst others would counter that if oil finds alone could cause the US to set up a military base, Nigeria should have been a mine of military bases and Burkina Faso might not have qualified. In light of all these geopolitical schemings, Prof Edward Akuffo has eloquently posited that Ghana needs to develop a comprehensive and coherent defence and security policy to guide how we engage our partners and I identify with this proposition. I have also raised concerns about some provisions in the Agreement on other platforms but given my limited grasp of information available to the President and an inability to critically review and substantiate claims by Vine for lack of concrete information, I would not pen a litany of baseless allegations against the President but take his word - for the time being. I would prefer to research my findings, triangulate my conclusions and ensure that what I serve to my readership can well stand the test of reasoned analysis.
I do agree with you that we cannot expect our leaders to always act in our interests. However, if Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo can work to ensure that journalists of your calibre can freely spew such allegations without fear of criminal libel and he can be so much drenched in democratic values that he could cause to be publicly debated an Agreement his predecessors were scared to death to push to the public domain, I would gladly exclude him from the pantheon of leaders who cannot be expected to always act in our interest.
God bless Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo and cause the 4th Estate of the Realm to serve Ghana with more incisive analyses and cutting-edge insights.