Mr. President, Time for “Rapid-Response” Communication Outpost!

Intensely watching the lung-buster screaming, ill-informed ranting, and the outrage of “Crucify him, Crucify them” directed at the Ghana-US military cooperation pact, cheer-led by the double-faced NDC apparatchiks with the backing of some naïve media practitioners, it becomes obvious that Nana Akufo-Addo-led NPP government seriously needs savvy, rapid-response communication outpost. The suggestion here is to have quick counter narrative and attempt at containment of the opposition parties’ below-the-belt propaganda before the gullible citizens are left to orbit in misinformation universe.

We know the current government of NPP has information ministry in addition to (perhaps) presidential spokesperson and the like. But it is equally true that in contemporary democracy where fake news and misinformation by political opponents tend to spread like wildfire, effective governments strategize ways to stay ahead of most “disturbing news” before they get out of hand. The ongoing saga of Ghana-US military is a classic example.

This means sharp-witted government is that which not only views communication as information transfer but more so it encapsulates communication in the context of strategic control. Whenever information or communication is timely strategize to suit the emerging situation(s), only then its effectiveness becomes more profound and impactful. Undoubtedly, the responses of many Ghanaians would have been less hostile if the government had been proactively media-savvy about its handling of the country’s military agreement with the United States.

Thus when the news of the so-called Ghana-US military cooperation agreement surfaced in parliament for debate at the urgings of Nana Addo’s government, the two-faced NDC comrades quickly pounced on the communication void inexplicably left unsealed by the NPP government. The result is that the NDC cynically implanted an “end-time” mental picture onto the minds and consciences of considerable number of politically unlettered Ghanaians, leading the vulnerable masses to harvest the notion that the nation’s sovereignty would disappear from the face of the earth if US were to be allowed to set up military base in Ghana. And some of the mediocre news reporters are muddying the waters.

Military alliances or bases have been around since the fifth century BC. Greek political historian Thucydides—considered the father of international relations—eloquently wrote about foreign military camps/alliances during the Peloponnesian War involving the city-states of Athens and Sparta. Since then, there have been ranges of alliances or establishment of military treaties/bases (mostly) by powerful nation-states on relatively weaker state lands.

Admittedly, a powerful nation’s military base may come across as uncomfortable phenomenon to some of the natives in the host country, but its downside is far outweighed by its benefits. For instance, US military base in Ghana will also mean that Ghanaians will blow a big goodbye kiss to military coup d’états in the country. And here it is clear the likes of Koku Anyidoho do not want to see US military base in Ghana just in case “history has a way of repeating itself” in the event of their parties losing power again in 2020. The relative political stability in Saudi Arabia can be attributed to American base there.

Another significant reality to consider is (God forbid) if natural disaster such as powerful earthquake strikes this country. In fact it is believed, according to Ghana’s Geological Survey Department, that the nation’s crowded capital Accra lies within seismic fault lines which make it prone to severe earth tremors. It means if natural disaster of this magnitude were to happen, having access to American logistics/base with its advanced and sophisticated transport airplanes may go a long way to assist in search and rescue effort mission. Ghanaians need to think ahead of time, regardless.

It is unfortunate many Ghanaians in this globalized age do not want to keep abreast of the time and embrace pragmatic change but rather keep fixated ignorantly on abstract concepts such as state sovereignty and what have you. They claim they love Ghana so much yet Ghanaians urinate, “release tension” in the street corners, and throw garbage, filth everywhere. Sovereignty- and patriotic-conscious people don’t carelessly destroy their water bodies and forest out of greed and corruption.

It is not even clear if many of the MPs, including public officials fully understand Ghana sovereignty. For how can one sincerely pontificate about sovereignty, patriotism, and all that when the nation’s environment is ceded without contract to foreigners mostly the Chinese mining gold illegally with the full support of some Ghanaians in low and high places?  You bet China is the big winner without US base in Ghana or in any African country. That is exactly what the Chinese want; low-key pretension that they are “non-aligned nation” or love Africa more than the US.

Unlike China, US is probably more cautious and sensitive regarding forest degradation because it has powerful and well-organized environmental groups/lobbyists back home that always keep the American government on its toes in terms of its policies towards environment, globally. China is authoritarian capitalist state where all the levers of power reside in the Central Committee that does not answer to any environmental group. The point is, the United States may not be perfect but as time-tested democratic nation, it is more responsive to its citizens and transparent than China which may not have military base in Ghana yet it has almost taken over the sovereignty of this country through illegal mining/galamsey and other backdoor activities throughout Africa.

The truth is we live in the age of social media/mass communication. Indeed, it is the world of mass persuasion. Turn everywhere in Ghana now and FM radio station is there. Coupled with that is the omnipresent social media/smartphones, all of them bombarding us with real and non-credible news aimed at persuading or shaping our thinking in many ways. It does not matter whatever good policies the government of the day pursues, if that government has lackluster message framing strategy, the gullible citizens get lost in the muddy waters of information overload made possible by uncontrollable 21st century media that can be easily manipulated by the cynics among us.

Many of us know the track record of the NDC folks when they were in power. They do not love Ghana more than any Ghanaian; neither are they more patriotic or sovereign-oriented than anyone. They are just opportunists taking advantage of the moment to suit their long-term agenda. Mr. President, it’s time to take a good look at your messaging; and yes, time is of the essence in modern communication!

Bernard Asubonteng is US-based writer. Send your comments to:

By—Bernard Asubonteng