National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members of Parliament (MPs) on Friday turned parliament house upside down and made it ungovernable in a desperate move to prevent the House from ratifying the controversial Ghana-US military deal.
Wearing red arm bands and headgears, the NDC MPs sang war songs and violently hijacked the public address system in the chamber.
They disabled the electronic microphones amidst disruptive banging of their desks.
All these went on with the tacit support of gurus of the party and some party faithful, who had massed up at the public gallery in the chamber.
They included the National Chairman, Kofi Portuphy; General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia; National Organizer, Kofi Adams and a Vice Chairperson of the party, Anita de Sooso, who were also wearing red bands.
Strangely at the committee level, the NDC members all voted in support of the deal that will allow US soldiers to use facilities of Ghana Armed Forces in joint operations.
The NDC functionaries, who were at the public gallery as visitors at a point, also directly participated in the proceedings of the House by raising placards with the inscription ‘Ghana First’ together with the NDC MPs on the floor.
The action of the NDC members and top executives, who were in the chamber as visitors to observe proceedings, compelled the Marshal of Parliament and his ‘men’ who are the ‘police’ in the chamber to take action, resulting in fisticuffs between the two groups.
This compelled the Speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye to temporarily vacate the chamber to allow order to be restored.
Before then, the same NDC members on the joint committee of Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that looked and scrutinized the details of the agreement had overwhelmingly endorsed the deal at the committee level before the plenary considered it.
Realising that their militant approach in trying to stop the ratification of the agreement to allow both countries to have joint military exercise in line with the current threat of terrorism will not succeed, the MPs boycotted the eventual approval of the agreement by the majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) in parliament, led by Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.
Earlier, before the approval of the agreement, the minority had insisted on changing some aspects of the report of the joint committee of parliament and that privilege was given to them.
The ranking member of the Defence and Interior Committee, James Agalga asked parliament to change the ‘consensus’ approval at the committee level to ‘by majority decision’ at the committee level.
The minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu said that the opposition NDC could not be part of such agreement that will mortgage the sovereignty of the nation to the US and also open the floodgate for terrorist attacks in the country.
He said the deal is a form of re-colonisation of the country by the US.
“This country is not for sale,” the minority leader said, stressing that NPP government is allowing the US marine forces unfettered access to the country to come and abuse citizens of the country.
He said the presence of the US Forces will result in the increase in gay activities in the country.
According to the minority, fundamentally approving the US-Ghana military deal was constitutionally wrong and unacceptable.
“Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution says the President may execute or cause to be executed treaties, agreements or conventions in the name of Ghana and that such treaty, agreement or convention by or under the authority of the President shall be subject to ratification by an Act of Parliament,” he said, stressing that in this joint military agreement, President Nana Akufo-Addo did not execute it.
He said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) accompanying the agreement signed by the Minister of Defence, Dominic Nitiwul introduced the agreement in parliament as a bill and therefore the consideration of the agreement should have been treated as a bill which needed to go through first reading, second reading, consideration stage and third reading before its approval.
The majority members hooted at the minority members as they were exiting, with the majority saying that the minority members are running away from their own shadows.
According to the Minister of Defence, who is the MP for Bimbilla, the NDC governments in 1998 and 2015 signed similar agreements with the US government.
The Minister for Defence said the agreement by the NDC in 2015 was rather signed in secrecy in Germany between the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanna Tetteh and her US counterpart.
“Mr Speaker, the NDC government then under former President John Mahama signed the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) in Stuttgart, Germany, which served as initial step for enhanced partnership and security cooperation between Ghana and the US and hid it from Ghanaians without bringing it to parliament for ratification,” he said.
He indicated that the NDC MPs were being hypocritical because in their case they even asked the US to provide food and water to Ghanaian soldiers as part of the deal.
He explained that the NPP government did not behave like the NDC and brought the same deal to parliament for Ghanaians to know the details and for parliament to ratify the agreement.
“Mr Speaker what wrong have we committed? This deal would eventually be in the interest of the Armed Forces of Ghana, because it gives training opportunities in combat readiness, intelligence gathering skills and disaster management and the use of same facilities by the US Forces in Ghana,” he said, adding that the NDC MPs should be ashamed of themselves after overwhelmingly approving the deal at the committee level and turning round to oppose it in the plenary.
He said there were 13 NDC members at the committee level with 10 NPP members.