Former President John Dramani Mahama has gone silent on the Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) between the governments of Ghana and the United States of America, which has sparked heated political debate between the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
He was in Wa in the Upper West Region at the weekend, pontificating how effective he was as president whilst stressing the supposed “super incompetence” of his successor, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, but he appeared to have conveniently dodged the DCA issue, which does not look like dying anytime soon.
His NDC party has hit the rooftop, firing from all cylinders since the Agreement was ratified by parliament under President Akufo-Addo’s regime.
The opposition party has even gone to the extent of spuriously propagating that President Akufo-Addo and his government had sold the sovereignty of Ghana to the Americans for a paltry $20 million.
Recently when the party demonstrated against the government over the issue using the banner of a group called the Ghana First Patriotic Front (GFPF), the ex-president, who failed to secure a second term in office on December 7, 2016, – making him the first sitting president in Ghana’s political history to be defeated by an opposition leader in a democratically held election – supported the action, which Koku Anyidoho said was going to be used to set the tone to topple President Akufo-Addo and his NPP government in a civilian coup d’état.
Mr Mahama was in far away Sierra Leone observing that country’s general election but found time to lend his support on Facebook, posting, “I join in declaring #GhanaFirst as my compatriots and other democratic forces converge to demonstrate their opposition to the Ghana/US military agreement.”
The raging debate compelled President Akufo-Addo to step into the ring and try to set the records straight, insisting that Ghana’s sovereignty had not been sold and also the US was not going to establish a military base here under the agreement.
During his widely-publicized address last Thursday evening, the president condemned what he called the “cynical manipulation” of the issues by his political opponents.
“So let me state with the clearest affirmation that Ghana has not offered a military base, and will not offer a military base to the United States of America. Indeed, the United States of America has not made any request for such consideration, and consistent with our established foreign policy, we will not consider any such request,” he affirmed and added that Ghana would only be interested in the Cooperation Agreement with the US.
“Surely, this is the kind of cynical manipulation by reckless self-seekers, which, in the fullness of time, the people of Ghana will acknowledge and condemn,” the president fired back, adding, “And I am sure that as the facts become clear and widely available, and as the people come to terms with the evidence, they will reject the falsehood and deliberate attempts to destabilize our peaceful country. Truth is sacrosanct.”
President Akufo-Addo said that submitting the agreement to open scrutiny had helped to “expose the unspeakable hypocrisy of the fraternity of some frontline politicians, who make a habit of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds, who secretly wallow in the largesse of the United States of America, whilst at the same time, promote anti-American sentiments to a populist constituency.”
It is unclear why former President Mahama could not touch on the burning DCA issue during the NDC’s ‘unity walk’held in Wa, although he spent some time to narrate some major happenings in the country, including his NDC party’s internal matters.
The only time he came close to the issue was when he said the NDC had no intention to disrupt the current democratic order as being pushed by Koku Anhidoho, an NDC deputy general secretary in-charge of operations.
He had claimed that the NDC is more committed to the advancement of democracy and progress of Ghana than any political party in the country, adding that it is not in the party’s interest and plan to overthrow any government and said Koku Anyidoho’s views did not reflect the position of the party.
Curiously, when Koku Anyidoho was detained at the BNI for his coup remarks, it was the same Mahama who broke protocols as a former leader and visited him in cells, raising eyebrows about his (Mahama’s) commitment to democratic rule.
“NDC’s stand on democracy and the rule of law is clear, and over the years this reflected in its response to elections, unlike the NPP which doubted the credibility of the Electoral Commission (EC) when it declared the outcome of the 2012 elections and subsequently proceeded to court,” he told enthusiastic NDC crowd.
His critics are saying that the NDC might be losing the plot as the shocking details of the extent of its engagements with the Americans since 1998 on the same DCA whilst in government continue to become public.
All military agreements (1998 – Rawlings’ time, 2012 – Mills’ tenure, 2015 -Mahama’s regime) that were signed between the NDC and the Americans never went to parliament for approval as everything was kept in secrecy.
But in the case of the NPP, President Akufo-Addo made sure parliament ratified it.
It turned out that even the 2018 DCA that the two governments signed, it was during Mr. Mahama’s tenure in 2016 that the whole deal was started.
A private legal practitioner, Justice Srem-Sai, strongly linked with the NDC, posed a thought-provoking teaser when he wondered on social media whether it was too much to ask Mr. Mahama to also explain his action in the 2015 DCA as he and his followers are doing to the sitting president over the 2018 agreement.
“In as much as we agree that President Nana Addo can’t use the 2015 agreement to justify his acceptance of the terms of the 2018 one, we need to equally make the point that ex-President JM (Mahama), too, owes the public an explanation for entering into the 2015 one on those terms (including, I understand, tax waivers without parliamentary approval). Particularly, now that it’s clear that he wants the people’s mandate again. And there’s no contradiction in these demands.
“Indeed, some of us were really expecting JM (just as we expected Nana) to break his loud silence on this issue in Wa over the weekend. Unfortunately, however, he chose to address the public in a way that shows that not much has changed since December, 2016.
“Just imagine if, instead of the Obinim and the ‘super-incompetence’ name-calling speech in Wa, JM used that opportunity to detail the benefits and circumstances of the 2015 deal and, then, threw a challenge to Nana to come back and address the nation on those issues. That way, then, we’ll be having real options. Sometimes, the problem is just beyond a change of government.”