DEFENCE MINISTER Dominic Nitiwul has disclosed how the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 1998 and 2015 signed two major joint military agreements with the United States Armed Forces on behalf of Ghana without parliamentary approvals.
Mr. Nitiwul was addressing the media yesterday at the ministry in Accra to “set the records straight” on an allegation by the minority NDC in parliament and a section of the public that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has agreed with the US Armed Forces to establish a military base in Ghana – precisely at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). Present was the Minister of Information, Mustapha Hamid.
According to him, there is no agreement between the US and Ghana for the establishment of any military base in the country.
Mr. Nitiwul said that there is only an agreement between the Government of Ghana and the Government of the United States of America on defence cooperation, status of the United States Forces and use of agreed facilities.
That agreement, the minister explained, is premised on two earlier agreements signed by the NDC in 1998 and 2015 (without parliamentary approvals) and input from relevant authorities in Ghana such as the Ministry of Finance and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA).
He said the two earlier agreements, signed on February 24, 1998 under the Rawlings administration and April 28, 2015 during the erstwhile President Mahama’s NDC administration, were the premises on which the US based its argument for the current agreement – which is generating a heated public debate.
According to Mr. Nitiwul, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister under the Mahama administration, Hannah Tetteh, signed the 2015 agreement in Stuggart, Germany, and later in Accra in complete secrecy.
“The Americans also premised their argument on a document called ‘Acquisition And Cross-Servicing Agreement’ that we signed in Stuggart, Germany. Of course, you all know this agreement, this is the first time we are all seeing it. It’s alien to us; it never went to parliament; it’s alien to us all,” he asserted.
“It’s like Gitmo 2. Why sign without bringing it to the people of Ghana?” he quizzed, whilst pointing out that all the NDC sought to do was enter into such agreements “under darkness and secrecy.”
According to the defence minister, the previous agreements were purely on the orders of the US without Ghana having a say and that they made provisions for US Armed Forces, who would come into the country to move about freely with their guns, use their driving licences from the States without consulting the DVLA and also have tax waivers, among others.
Upon assuming office, and having realized the nature of the previous agreements and the fact that they were not in the interest of the people of Ghana, Mr Nitiwul said he made a proposal to the US for some key changes to be effected in the current agreement which would inure to the benefit of the people of Ghana.
Following that, according to him, a meeting was arranged between the US Army and the Ghana Armed Forces in September 2017 where the issues raised were addressed, and subsequently, he had to send a memo to Cabinet seeking approval for the current agreement to be sent to parliament for some key authorities in Ghana to make their inputs into it. He wondered how the NDC could claim that the government was acting in secrecy over the matter – when a memo to that effect was circulated and it is currently in parliament.
Also, he argued that it would have been out of protocol and international relations for Ghana to turn down the 2015 ‘Hannah Tetteh Agreement.’
Meanwhile, the defence minister has pointed out that the agreement with the US is not peculiar to Ghana, claiming that America has it with about 52 countries worldwide including Senegal, Kenya, Nigeria, UK, South Korea, among others.
He urged Ghanaians not to fall for the NDC’s propaganda while indicating that there was no reason to panic.
BY Melvin Tarlue