The Minority has described as palpable falsehood news on social media which suggests that the majority of parliamentarians who recommended the ratification of the controversial Defence Corporation Agreement between Ghana and the United States of America came from among their ranks.
The news on social media suggested that 14 Members of Parliament (MPs) from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) voted for the defence deal, while only 10 MPs from the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) approved same.
But the NDC in a statement signed by the MP for Builsa North, James Agalga, said the story was false “designed to save face by certain misguided traitors within the NPP following the outpouring of anger and the feeling of betrayal by the good people of Ghana directed at the NPP government.”
The government has come under heavy criticism for approving the deal.
As part of the agreement, the US government will be spending $20 million in training and supplying equipment for the Ghana Armed Forces with Ghana expected to bear the cost for securing US military facilities in the country. According to the contract, US forces will also enjoy unfettered access to certain key installations as well as diplomatic immunity.
The Minority walked out of Parliament in disagreement to the deal but the Majority voted to approve it.
Below is the Minority’s statement:
PRESS STATEMENT BY NDC MINORITY MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT OF THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE AND INTERIOR AND CONSTITUTIONAL, LEGAL AND PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS ON THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ON DEFENCE CO-OPERATION, THE STATUS OF THE UNITED STATES FORCES, ACCESS TO AND USE OF AGREED FACILITIES AND AREAS IN THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA
Our attention has been drawn to the deliberate mischievous display of the Votes and Proceedings of Parliament dated 22nd March, 2018 on social media which captures amongst others the attendance list of members of the joint committee on Defence and Interior and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to suggest that the majority of members who actually attended upon the committee and recommended the ratification of the controversial Defence Corporation Agreement(2018) between Ghana and the United States of America came from the Minority NDC.
We wish to place on record that the attempt to create the impression that the majority of MP’s who voted in favour of the passage of the agreement in issue came from the minority NDC is a palpable falsehood designed to save face by certain misguided traitors within the NPP following the outpouring of anger and the feeling of betrayal by the good people of Ghana directed at the NPP government.
A careful scrutiny of the Votes and Proceedings displayed on social media will indicate in no uncertain terms that the list of MPs attendance does not disclose any voting pattern. It is therefore very misleading for anyone to simply identify MPs whose names appear on the attendance list by their respective political parties and conclude that the majority of members present at the meeting came from the NDC and that they must be the ones who recommended to the plenary that the agreement be passed.
It should be noted that at the commencement of proceedings before the joint committee, the NDC Minority Members of Parliament raised very critical objections to the agreement in the collective. For instance, the Minority NDC members rejected the agreement as one which contravened Article 75 of the Constitution on the ground that it was never executed by the executive branch of government prior to its laying in Parliament. This objection it is important to emphasize was conceded by the Minister for Defence.
Following, the Defence Minister’s own admission that the agreement had not been executed by the President or his agent in line with Article 75, the minority NDC MPs argued strenuously for the Chairman of the joint committee to declare a division in a ruling to authorize the Clerk to the committee to act in accord with Order 211 of the Standing Orders of Parliament to no avail. Order 211 of the Standing Orders reads as follows;
“(1) Every decision in a committee shall be taken by the clerk of the committee asking each member of the committee separately how he desires to vote and recording the votes accordingly.
(2) In taking the division, the names of all members of the committee shall be called in alphabetical order.
(3) When a division is claimed in a committee, every member of the committee present shall, unless he expressly states that he declines to vote, record his vote either AYES or NOES. The clerk of the committee shall enter in the minutes of the proceedings a record of each members votes. A member must vote according to his voice.
(4) As soon as the clerk has collected the votes, the chairman shall state the number of members voting for the AYES or NOES respectively and shall then declare the division.
In view of the fact that the Chairman of the committee declined the Ranking Member’s invitation to declare a division, Order 211 of the standing orders was never invoked. The failure and/or refusal of the Chairman to invoke Oder 211 resulted in a standoff at the committee for well over three hours.
Eventually, the minority NDC MPs insisted that all objections raised by them be captured succinctly in the report. It is therefore mind boggling for anybody to suggest that the minority NDC MPs having argued that the agreement was unconstitutional will turn around and recommend its passage.
In fact, the committee could not agree on what recommendation to make in relation to the agreement in its report as the minority NDC MPs and the majority NPP MPs simply took entrenched positions. Eventually, the compromise position taken was for the Minority NDC MPs led by the Ranking Member for Defence and Interior committee, Hon. James Agalga to propose an amendment with the concurrence of the majority MPs led by the Chairman of the Defence and Interior committee, Hon. Seth Acheampong to allow for the recommendation for the ratification of the agreement to stand in the name of the NPP majority members of the committee. This explains why the Chairman of the committee for Defence and Interior also proposed an amendment to be taken in respect of paragraph 6.4 of the committee’s report so that the NPP Majority members will distance themselves from they claimed to be harsh language of the said paragraph 6.4.
Paragraph 6.4 of the committee’s report is reproduced for ease of reference together with the amendment which stood in Hon. Seth Acheampong’s name and adopted by the house;
“6.4 FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT OF VEHICLES, VESSELS AND AIRCRAFT.
The committee noted with concern, the unfettered access the agreement grants to the aircraft, vehicles and vessels of the DOD to enter, exit and freely move within the territory, air space and territorial waters of Ghana. This may appear to undermine the sovereignty and security of Ghana.
It is instructive to note that paragraph 6.4 of the committee’s report was one of the objections the minority NDC members of the committee raised. The fundamental question to ask is why would the Chairman of the committee who belongs to the majority NPP move for such an amendment if his motive was not to distance his group from the finding of fact which implicated the NPP government? It is obvious that the insertion of the phrase “some members” refers to the minority NDC members of the committee.
The argument that it was the NDC minority members of parliament who recommended or endorsed the agreement for ratification if accepted would mean that the NPP Members of Parliament who attended upon the committee and were supposedly in the minority as per the attendance list in the votes and proceedings voted against their own government sponsored agreement. I hereby challenge the NPP members of parliament led by Hon. Seth Acheampong, the chairman of the committee, who were supposedly in the minority to show by evidence that they voted against their own government’s sponsored agreement.
In conclusion, we wish to confirm to all and sundry that when Hon. James Agalga the Ranking Member for Defence and Interior committee moved for the amendment of the conclusion of the report of the joint committee by inserting the phrase “by majority decision”, he was clearly referring to the NPP majority and not otherwise.
Signed, James Agalga (MP)