The Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, Andrew Barnes has urged Ghanaians to be open-minded about the infamous Ghana-US military deal generating numerous controversies and verbal tussles in the country.
The deal, which was allegedly leaked by the Minority in Parliament, has put government in a bad light among majority of Ghanaians, who argue that it was not in the country’s best interest.
The opposition NDC, together with some civil society organization in a bid to get the Defense Minister, Dominic Nitiwul and government to retract its decision, had staged a demonstration.
President, Nana Akufo-Addo has subsequently lambasted the opposition describing their stance on the issue as “a kind of cynical manipulation by reckless self-seekers", who will be exposed and condemned soon.
The president further argued that since Ghana has built a formidable reputation for its contribution to peace-keeping around the world, which would not have been possible without the immense contribution of the United States of America, it was only right for it to continue with the existing co-operation agreement between the two countries.
“Since independence, Ghana has had very fruitful relations with a range of foreign embassies and major international institutions. These include the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, amongst others. All these agencies enjoy similar conditions as those which the Co-operation Agreement offers to the US military here. No one has dared suggest that granting these foreign embassies and international institutions these concessions constitute an attack on the sovereignty of Ghana. Nor has anyone also felt that the concessions have in any way worked against the interests of Ghana. Indeed, I have no doubt that it would be the general consensus of all well-informed Ghanaians that this nation has benefitted significantly from the presence and activities of these institutions over the past decades.”
But whilst the opposition NDC and some Ghanaians seem unfazed by the president’s address, the Australian High Commissioner believes Ghana stands to benefit from the collaboration.
According to Mr. Barnes, most countries are in similar agreements with other nations.
“International co-operation is very important. So is military co-operation, I will, therefore, encourage people to be open-minded, to appreciate and understand the benefit to both countries and in fact all countries for having close co-operation in this sort of matters,” he said.
It must be worth noting that under this military deal, the US is exempted from paying tax on equipment imported into the country and further permitted the setting up of a telecommunication system on Ghana’s radio spectrum for free.
Ghana is also required to give the US army unfettered access to some facilities close to the Kotoka International Airport while Ghana is expected to receive some $20 million.