The “Sovereignty” of Ghana has been violated at least three times since the country’s reassertion of the same from the British colonial imperialists, by the members of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), once by the founding-father of the present main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Chairman Jerry John Rawlings, so it is not clear precisely what the National Democratic Congress’ Parliamentary Minority means, when its Tamale-South’s Member of Parliament, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, asserts that the Military Pact signed by the Akufo-Addo Administration with the United States of America flagrantly violates the “Sovereignty” of the Democratic Republic of Ghana (See “$20 M too Small for Ghana’s Sovereignty – Minority Lashes Government” MyJoyOnline.com / Ghanaweb.com 3/20/18). At any rate, according to Mr. Robert Jackson, the American Ambassador to Ghana, in a statement issued to the local Ghanaian media, the United States has a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Ghana that enables the military establishments of both countries to periodically participate in joint-military exercises aimed at upgrading both institutions and making them battle ready for assignments both at home and abroad (See “We’re Not Setting Up a Military Base in Ghana – US” Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 3/20/18).
But what is even more relevant and significant to point out is the fact the SOFA, as Ambassador Jackson tells it, is 20 years old. What the foregoing means is that the SOFA, as a bilateral compact between Ghana and the United States, was signed at least as far back as 1998, or thereabouts, when Chairman Jerry John Rawlings was the bona fide democratically elected President of Ghana. Back then, I don’t recall any of the National Democratic Congress’ leaders who were then of age raise the question of the flagrant violation of our beloved country’s “Sovereignty” with President Rawlings. Or maybe it was only in the wake of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s initialing of the recent Military Pact with the United States that the Iddrisu Gang of NDC Parliamentary Minority Leadership came to the realization that Ghanaians were endowed with something called “Sovereignty” which was recently breached, flagrantly, when President Akufo-Addo signed his Military Compact with the United States. Well, to hear Ambassador Jackson tell it, the latest Military Agreement struck between Ghana and his country is only supplemental to the 20-year-old SOFA Compact. The present agreement, however, is an even more salutary measure, as it enables Ghana the exponential benefit of having the United States’ Armed Forces train and upgrade personnel and strength of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF).
Those critics who think that the decision by the US Government to invest some $20 million in equipment supply to the GAF, especially members of the NDC’s Parliamentary Minority, ought to tell us what amount of capital resources former President John Dramani Mahama had invested in the training and equipment of the Ghana Armed Forces during the four-and-half years that the former Atta-Mills’ Presidential “Spare-Tire” served as the substantive Leader and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces. What the ardent critics of the Military Compact signed between the Ghana Government and the latter’s US counterpart are not telling us is the fact that the agreement is scarcely unilateral. For it also requires that our GAF personnel tutor the Americans on Ghana’s British-inherited military culture. Already, there exists a bilateral program between Ghana and the United States which far precedes the SOFA program, in which tens of Ghanaian soldiers fly to the United States, periodically, to undergo professional development training as well as acquire other professional skills upgrade and state-of-the-art equipment-handling training. To be certain, this multilateral program exists for all other countries around the globe with which Washington maintains cordial diplomatic relations.
Another part of the agreement which the NDC’s Parliamentary Minority finds to be very offensive, but which this writer finds to be perfectly in order, is Article 13, which permits US personnel and project contractors connected with the agreement to have their US-issued Driver’s Licenses legitimately recognized by the hosting Ghanaian Government. I find the NDC Parliamentary Minority’s protestation to be both absurd and inexcusably risible, if only because anybody who has domiciled in both Ghana and the United States knows fully well that driving standards in the United States are far more qualitative, better and much higher than what prevails in Ghana. In short, American drivers are, generally speaking, far more careful and disciplined than their Ghanaian counterparts. Both countries also drive on the right-hand side of the road, with Ghana since 1974, unlike Britain where driving on the left-hand side of the road is the rule. And really, in terms of safety, one actually wishes that all Ghanaian motorists were American trained.
But what clearly appears to be the problem with the Iddrisu Gang of NDC “Social Democrats,” is the fact that the Americans are not being required by the agreement to pay licensing fees to Ghana’s DVLA (or Driver and Vehicle-Licensing Authority), the equivalent of America’s DMV or the Department of Motor Vehicles. This is really absurd, because the NDC Parliamentary Minority critics are deliberately, deviously and cynically ignoring the fact that our American “guests” are not ordinary citizens; rather, they are part of the category of essential services professionals commonly called “First Responders” or Emergency-Service Workers. They tend to be National-Security, Fire-Safety, Police and Healthcare Workers whose first and foremost duty is to put their lives on the line, as it were, by jealously guarding and protecting our well-being and safety as citizens.
But even more significant and worth noting is the fact that the Mahama Spokeswoman and former Deputy Minister for Road Transport, Mrs. Bawa Motgari, also a Mahama cousin – now, let’s talk about the politics of nepotism – drove around our nation’s capital and the rest of the country for most of the four years, or so, that she was a deputy cabinet appointee – by her own public confession – without a DVLA-issued driver’s license. This is far worse than the driver’s licensing agreement struck by the Akufo-Addo Administration with the Americans. At least in the latter instance, unlike the Motgari Case, nobody is putting the Americans over and above the laws of the land. Rather, we are simply recognizing the fact that US-issued driver’s licenses are as valid as their Ghanaian counterparts, if not even more valid, for some of the reasons discussed above.
*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs