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Opinions Wed, 30 Apr 2014

The Private Jet Saga: A Geopolitical Analysis

Hold the fire! Is it to suggest that we have no businessmen in Ghana? What is the essence of the private sector if not the engine of growth for any economy? Since the publication of this article, “Revealed: U.S.-flagged plane in Iran has ties to Ghana” culled from the New York Times, (General News of Saturday, 19 April 2014, ) Ghana web has gone berserk, tagged with speculations and enough conjectures. What is the ethical challenge of a jet owned by Mr. Ibrahim Mahama and found in the Republic of Iran? On hearing this news item, I decided to reread the said piece and had to make a geopolitical analysis of this issue.

First of all, Ghana is not an island and needs business transactions with other countries as well as international cooperation with other countries to succeed. So, to all intents and purposes, it beats my imagination that a jet owned by a Ghanaian and said to be in Iran for official business should be a source of controversy; stirred up enormous unwanted conjectures and speculations as if a crime of the century has just been committed.

The said article stated, “Buffeted by questions about why an American plane was in Tehran, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the plane had been used to transport top Ghanaian officials as part of a broader push to expand cooperation between the two countries.”

Going by this information, did the information state top government officials? Who are these top Ghanaian officials? Could they be businessmen? Granted that Dr. Sam Jonas or Alhaji Asumah Banda, or the Former UN boss Mr. Kofi Annan were on board, wouldn’t these personalities be considered top Ghanaian officials in their own capacities? Do we know the political affiliation of these respected personalities?

Engineers & Planners (E&P) offered a statement in which they stated clearly that, "The said aircraft transported a group of Ghanaian business executives to Iran and has since returned to Ghana,” and that, “The said trip was made in conformity with all international aviation laws.”

And yet people are so willing and forth coming with lots of conjectures and unsubstantiated assumptions via their own fabricated subjected opinions.

Of course, the United States has every right to want to find out why a US aircraft should even wonder in Iran’s air space let alone having landed in one of their airports given the peculiar case existing between the two countries. Past outrageous statements attributed to former President Mahmoud Amadenejad has been source of tensed relationship between the two countries while the purported Iran’s Nuclear Program that has attracted International economic sanctions against Iran with the US leading the onslaught, has further exacerbated the frosty relation between the two countries. Truth be told, the US has every justifiable reason to be on the alert about Iran and yet they are leaving no stone unturned in their resolve in dealing with Iran diplomatically.

Ghana doing business with Iran is not out of place, provided business is conducted and done in a genuine way and in the true spirit of cooperation and must be a win-win situation for both countries. Right now, there is nothing untoward about business cooperation between Ghana and Iran to pin down in the wake of this news item, whether in the past, in the present and surely an unknown in the future, other than the fast approaching political curve - I mean the political season in Ghana.

Ghana, however, as an independent nation and our cooperation with Iran should not be determined by the relationship between the US and Iran or based on some fragile diplomacy between the two countries. It must, however, be pointed out that Ghana has always enjoyed a cozy diplomatic relationship with the US and will continue to forge warm relationship with the US. What the US is concerned about is a possible flight sanctions violation of a US aircraft over Iran and not a private business cooperation move between Ghana and Iran.

As a secular State, Ghana treats all its citizens equally regardless of religion. Dealing with Iran has its own subtle undertakings, underlining especially that Iran is tagged as a “rogue” nation, so to speak, and with a muslin population fast growing in Ghana and appreciating significantly day in, day out with great minds of business acumen, upmost care must be taken not to impinge on the sensibilities of our Muslim brothers owing to the backlash of this brouhaha.

Since the break out of this article, many have written about it and presented their subjected opinions and views. Some have pointed to a conflict of interest and yet others most recently pleading with the US not to sanction Ghana. And you would wonder what reasoning could have motivated these write-ups and analysis of these unsubstantiated statements. But that’s okay. Assumptions and speculations galore in town these days!

Against this backdrop, we must hold tight and reexamine this issue very closely, especially that Mr. Ibrahim Mahama is a Ghanaian citizen and a businessman par excellence. As a company, E& P is/was not a nine day wonder, but has grown amidst toils and sweat through the years to the stage it has reached. Much less should be thought of Mr. Ibrahim Mahama as a president’s brother and much more conceived of him as a Ghanaian business personality in his bid to help his country. Indeed, its yet to be determined the ethical challenge and what’s not right about this matter when E & P in a statement offered clarification about the purpose of the trip and the officials on board.

So, folks, genuine business, genuine money and development must be what the private sector is considered the engine of growth of an economy.

Cletus D. Kuunifaa

Transformation Management Consultancy (TMC) Group

Can be contacted at dipnibe@yahoo.com or Follow him on twitter @ckuunifaa

Columnist: Kuunifaa, Cletus D