A massive crowd of Ghanaians from all walks of life on Wednesday [March 28, 2018] joined the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to demonstrate against a Ghana-US Defence Corporation agreement.
Dubbed: “#PutGhanaFirstDemo,” the protesters, who wore red and black cloths, as early as 8:00 a.m., converged at the Obra Spot at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle.
They walked through the principal streets of Accra to register their displeasure about the deal, which had already been ratified by the Parliament of Ghana before it went on recess last week.
The demonstrators blew vuvuzelas and beat drums to indicate that they were not in support of the US military deal.
Leading members of the NDC including former Vice-President, Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Sylvester Mensah and Professor Joshua Alabi, all took part in the demonstration to state their resentment over the deal, which is expected to earn Ghana an estimated US$20million.
Also, some opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) including Samuel Richard Quashigah, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, James Kludze Avedzi, Zanetor Rawlings and Rockson Dafeamekpor were not left out in the demonstration that lasted for almost three hours.
Addressing the gathering at the Hearts Park in Accra, General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, said the turnout despite the short notice was a clear indication of Ghanaians’ disgust at attempts by government to ‘sell’ the sovereignty of Ghana to foreigners.
Mr. Asiedu Nketia maintained that the party was relentless in its efforts to get government to revoke its decision despite the fact that one of their ‘soldiers,’ Koku Anyidoho, was arrested by the CID over alleged treasonable comments at a press briefing at the International Press Centre in Accra on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.
The NDC deputy general secretary had threatened an overthrow the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) over the Ghana-US Defence Cooperation Agreement.
But Mr Asiedu Nketia in a reaction said, “freedom is not free, we have to fight for it, so the freedom of this country, the independence, were not won on a silver platter, people died, people were imprisoned, Osagyefo himself emerged from prison to become President.”
He added that “the independence of South Africa was not got on a silver platter, people fought, people died, and Mandela emerged from prison to become the President. As far as we are concerned, our revolutionary training tells us that when we are in battle and one soldier falls, you walk over the body, continue the battle and win and then you come back to count the dead so we are on course.”
The MP for Ketu North, James Klutse Avedzi, who also spoke to the gathering expressed confidence in the demonstration, yielding positive results to compel President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to reverse government’s decision on the deal.
He believed that though the demonstration was peaceful, the message would be relayed to government.
“It was peaceful without any disturbance or injuries. The group invited us and we met over it and decided this is a very good course, looking at young men who love their country and want to send a clear message to the leadership of the country, the president of the country that this is not something we will support, we have decided to unanimously, unreservedly support them so that is why the minority caucus are here in our numbers to join this march.” he said.
“The agreement should be brought back to Parliament for us to amend some portions,” James Klutse Avedzi added.
Former Minister of Trade and Industry, Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, told Today in an exclusive interview that the agreement between Ghana and US “is something that Parliament should not have ratified since it touches on Ghana’s sovereignty and that government should reconsider it.”
Other protestants, who spoke with Today stated their discontentment, over the deal which they believe was a ploy by the United States to syphon oil from Ghana’s oil fields.
Per the agreement, the US military force is, among other things, to be exempted from paying tax on the equipment to be brought into Ghana.
The US will also be given the chance to set up its own telecommunication system, but will be allowed to use Ghana’s radio spectrum free of charge.
The US troops and their equipment will also have unhindered access to the US forces and their equipment. Although many Ghanaians have expressed resentment over the clauses of the agreement, the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, had justified the ratification, saying the agreement was in the best interest of Ghana.
But the government has consistently explained that it was only respecting the existing Status of Forces Agreement with the US signed since 1998 and reviewed in 2015, under the previous NDC administration.
Notwithstanding, the organisers of the demonstration, Ghana First Patriotic Front (GFPF) and the NDC Minority, have downplayed this argument, saying the agreement as existed in the past, did not have the same clauses like the current one that gives the US unlimited access to Ghana’s military facilities.
Story: Gottlieb BAAKO
Writer’s email: email@example.com
Photos: Senyo Gladsone