ADDRESS TO THE NATION, BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC, NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO, ON THE “US-GHANA MILITARY CO-OPERATION AGREEMENT”, ON THURSDAY, 5TH APRIL, 2018.

Fellow Ghanaians, I have come into your homes this evening to talk about a matter that has generated a lot of heat in our country these past days.

Last week, at the height of the furore triggered by the US-Ghana Military Co-operation Agreement, a good friend of mine came to caution me on what he called the “hazards of this democracy thing”. He told me, just in case I needed reminding that my predecessor as President, who had also been democratically elected, had chosen to avoid any possible controversy by signing and keeping secret some agreements. So, why did I not follow this precedent, instead of exposing the nation to all the hazards of the past few days?

My friend, no doubt, had a point. Indeed, I acknowledge that there are many very well-meaning citizens who would have preferred the peaceful process of agreements reached behind closed doors, to the furore of the past few days. Yet, far from being daunted, I take what has happened not to be symptomatic of the hazards of democracy, but a show of the strength of democracy in action. We are seeing being displayed before our very eyes, not the triumph of disorder, but the value of openness in governance, and of the need, the crucial need, for the people to be fully and accurately informed.

You cannot claim to believe in democracy unless you have faith in the people, faith in their inherent goodness, faith in their capacity to make the right decisions, given the right information. It is this faith in the people that has shaped my entire political career, and it is this faith that propels me to lead an open and transparent government.

I was fully aware of how such agreements had been handled in earlier administrations, but I decided that, under my watch, any such agreements should be subject to the appropriate scrutiny of the people’s representatives in Parliament, in consonance with the requirements of accountable governance and the teachings of the Constitution. After all, you, the Ghanaian people, had voted massively for change; therefore, there was simply no way my government would ever keep hidden from you, the people, agreements of such a nature. I believe that the fall-out from this decision only shows the growing maturation of our democracy.

But for this decision to be open about this agreement, how else would we, the people of Ghana, have ever known that, for several decades, Ghana has had defence and security co-operation collaborations with the United States of America? How else would we have known that, in some instances, we have provided them with facilities for the movement of personnel and equipment to help some of our neighbours who were facing security and health challenges?

And how else would we have exposed 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? Submitting this Agreement to open scrutiny now allows us to clear the unhealthy fog that has clouded our relations with the United States of America.

The conduct of Ghana’s foreign policy and its relations with the nations of the world has, happily, been, traditionally, above the passions of partisan politics. Allowing for the normal differences of approach, which will sometimes occur, our foreign policy has been consistently bi-partisan, and no successor government has found the need to tamper with any Agreement of a non-commercial nature, entered into by its predecessor. We respect the age-old norms of international diplomacy that, when a country has accorded concessions and privileges to another, these are not removed or altered by a successor government, unless, firstly, the conditions under which they were granted have been reversed; or, secondly, there is proven evidence of abuse.

My Government came to know that Ghana had entered into a Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America, in 1998, 2000, and under the government of my predecessor in 2015. We were satisfied that the conditions which necessitated the Agreement, namely the creeping threat to the peace of the region, had not disappeared. If anything, the threat had increased and, therefore, the need had arisen for continuing with our co-operation.

No suggestion had ever been made that the United States of America had abused any of the privileges or concessions granted under any of these agreements, and it would, thus, have been deemed an unfriendly act to attempt to deny them any concession granted them under those agreements.

Fellow Ghanaians, above everything else, the crux of the matter is this. Ghana has built a formidable reputation for its contribution to peace-keeping around the world. Although these peace-keeping operations have always been under the aegis of the United Nations, no one doubts the fact that they have been made possible by the contributions largely of the United States of America. The Co-operation Agreement, which has subsisted, which we have approved, can only enhance the global effort to preserve the peace in our region.

It is important also to state that the conditions of the Agreement mirror closely the conditions under which Ghana participates in peace-keeping operations under the United Nations. When our troops go on most peacekeeping duties, they do not carry their national passports, they carry their military identity.

Quite apart from how this Agreement involves the military as an institution, it is worth pointing out that, virtually since independence, Ghana has had very fruitful relations with a range of foreign embassies and major international institutions. These include the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, amongst others. All these agencies enjoy similar conditions as those which the Co-operation Agreement offers to the US military here.

No one has dared suggest that granting these foreign embassies and international institutions these concessions constitute an attack on the sovereignty of Ghana. Nor has anyone also felt that the concessions have in any way worked against the interests of Ghana. Indeed, I have no doubt that it would be the general consensus of all well-informed Ghanaians that this nation has benefitted significantly from the presence and activities of these institutions over the past decades.

It is clear to me that, if the people of Ghana knew the conditions under which foreign embassies and our friendly international institutions operate in Ghana, nobody would have been surprised that a Defence Cooperation Agreement would make such provisions. Such knowledge would have spared many citizens the genuine anxiety and concern they have felt about the Agreement. It is my firm belief that the case for openness and transparency in our governance has been clearly demonstrated, and the argument conclusively settled by these events.

But we have to take issue with the front-line politicians who have sought to mislead the people in this blatant manner, and those who, for mischievous purposes, leaked the document destined for the scrutiny of Parliament prematurely to a section of the media, who then went on to describe it as a “secret document”. How could a document intended for the consideration of Parliament be described as a “secret document”? How could anyone who has been in government and run the administration of this nation feign ignorance of the conditions under which Ghanaian troops undertake peace-keeping operations, or the conditions under which our country has collaborated with major international institutions? It is difficult to understand that such people, knowing what they do know, would set about so blatantly to confuse people, and go as far as calling for the overthrow of our democracy? A democracy that has become the beacon of good governance in Africa? A democracy that has survived for a quarter of a century and encompassed even the most irresponsible episodes of ill governance, in a state of unity and stability? A democracy that has provided the framework for systematic developments in our social and economic welfare, and assured us of the longest, uninterrupted period of stable constitutional governance in our history?

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. 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.

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. However, in consideration of the realities of our circumstances and the challenges to peace in our region in our time, we have deemed it prudent to continue the Co-operation Agreement with the United States of America. It is our firm belief that the Agreement will help enhance our defence capability, and offer an important layer of support in our common effort to protect the peace in our region.

Fellow Ghanaians, let me conclude by saying how outraged I am by the defamatory comments from my political opponents, some of whose patriotism can be so easily questioned, that the sovereignty of this country has been sold by my government and myself. I will never be the President that will compromise or sell the sovereignty of our country. I respect deeply the memory of the great patriots whose sacrifice and toil brought about our independence and freedom. I have stood with you, the Ghanaian people, all my adult life, fighting for our individual and collective rights. Everything I have done, since assuming the great honour and privilege of serving you as President of the Republic, demonstrates that I remain focused on building a self-reliant, free, prosperous Ghana, which will be able to make her own unique contribution to the growth and development of Africa and the world.

Let us concentrate and spend our energies on working together to achieve that goal of a happy and prosperous Ghana, and reject the hypocrisy of the naysayers who led our country into bankruptcy and the worse economic record of modern Ghanaian history. Let us rise above them, and build the Ghana of our destiny, the land of freedom, justice, progress and prosperity.

May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her great and strong. I thank you for your attention. Good night.

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PARLIAMENT ON FRIDAY NIGHT ACCEPTED THE CONTROVERSIAL GHANA -USA MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT.

PARLIAMENT ON FRIDAY NIGHT ACCEPTED THE CONTROVERSIAL GHANA -USA MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT.

In spite of protest by the minority in Parliament, the agreement between these two countries was finally approved.

The majority side, who were left alone in the floor, accepted the agreement after a while of minutes, after the minority had walked out over the resentment to conditions stated in the agreement.

The House, which was expected to rise on Friday, March 23, 2018, extended its sitting into the late night to among other things, consider the agreement which has brewed a lot of controversies and dominated various public discourse.

Observing the debate that went on after the walked out by the minority, the debate from Hon.member of parliament for Adenta, Boabeng Asamoah, Hon. Minister for Defense, and a few others, indicates that, the conditions in this Ghana-USA agreement, is not different from that of the previous agreements signed by the first NDC administration, headed by Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings in 1998, through to the administration of John Dramani Mahama’s led NDC government in 2016, this agreement has been signed since, with all those conditions, so the majority side in Parliament do not see any wrong deals which should call for these hullabaloo about this very agreement between Ghana and USA by the current NPP Government led by President Akufo Addo.

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The Defense minister,Dominic Nitiwul, made it clear in his debate on the floor of Parliament, indicating that, even on the day of making a final decision on this agreement, the minority side in Parliament, on the committee were many than that of majority side, and if anything at all, the minority could have cancelled or rejected this agreement, since the minority were 13 in number while the majority were of 10.

He therefore made it known that, this agreement was initiated or accepted by the NPP or the majority in Parliament, but on clear and good grounds.

After a lengthy debate from the majority side alone, the Rt. Hon. Speaker of parliament,Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, posed the question of acceptance or otherwise of the agreement, and finally, the majority side won, by accepting this agreement into force.

Story: Richmond Adu.

Speaker Oquaye stresses more Ghana-Czech Republic relations 

Speaker Oquaye stresses more Ghana-Czech Republic relations

The speaker of Parliament Rt Hon Aaron Mike Oquaye has stressed the need for more and enhanced relations between Ghana and the Czech Republic.

He said Ghana is fully committed to bilateral agreements of both countries, and emphasized on the need for the two nations to cooperate more in the areas of science and technology.

Prof Oquaye made the call when Madam Gita Fuchsova the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, paid a courtesy cal on the Speaker at his office at the Parliament House in Accra.

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He reiterated the need to extend the scholarship base that will be a formal recovery process to realize the good relations between the two countries.

Prof Oquaye further talked about women empowerment and the need to consider women in the affairs of major agenda in the national issues.

“Pursuant to women development, it’s important both countries have major interest in order to debunk the growing belief that there is no point in holding women to lead at the fore front.” the Speaker said.

For her part, the Czech Ambassador said next year, Ghana and the Czech Republic will be celebrating 60 years of bilateral relation and it is important to continually deepen their cooperation in the areas of agriculture, internal and external security and trade.

She said her is taking note of the human centred programs and policies of the government, and ready to support with the needed capacity and expertise.

On cultural diversity, Madam Fuchsova said both countries have a unique cultural heritage which must be preserved for generations yet unborn, and said she was very proud to watch the University of Ghana Dancing Troupe display Ghana’s rich culture when they visited Czech Republic last year..

She announced that the Minister of Agriculture will be in the Czech Republic next month on a bilateral mission to between the two nations.

Story by Richmond Adu.

Let’s Strengthen Our Bilateral Relationship – Speaker to Czech Republic

The speaker of Parliament Rt Hon Aaron Mike Oquaye earlier today 22nd March 2018, received a courtesy call from the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Ghana Gita Fuchsova at his office.

The Ambassador said next year, Ghana and the Czech Republic will be celebrating 60 years of bilateral relation and it is important to continually deepen our agreement in the area of agriculture, internal and external security, trade and relations. She alluded their country have not lost sight of the programs and policies of the government and are ready to support with the needed capacity and expertise soon.

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Talking about issues of cultural diversity, she said both countries have unique cultural heritage which must be preserved for generations yet unborn. She remarked how proud she was when the University of Ghana dancing troop demonstrated the rich culture of Ghana when they visited Czech Republic last year.

She was however delighted to announce to the speaker the willingness of the finance Minister to sign trade relations agreement with their country after 70 years of continues meetings just to see it happen.

“On the 7th to 11th of next month, Minister for Agriculture of Ghana will be in Czech Republic to foster and deepen bilateral corporation through sharing of ideas to improve on the activities of the sector” she intimated.

The Speaker however remarked, Ghana is fully committed to the bilateral agreement of both countries although the initial giant step taken earlier between both countries in the area of science and technology did not move as expected and it is important that area is reconsidered again.

He reiterated the need to extend the scholarship base that will be a formal recovery process to realize the good relations between the two countries.
He further talked about women empowerment and the need to consider women in the affairs of major agendas in the daily sphere of life.

“Pursuant to women development, it’s important both countries have major interest in order to debunk the growing believe that there is no point in holding women to lead the fore front of leadership” he said.

Story by: Sylvester Gomado 

You can be political only in your discussions, and not partisan since you are students

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Joseph Osei-Owusu has sounded word of caution to the students Parliament of the Koforidua Technical University to be political only in their discussions, and not partisan since the students Parliament is not an elected Parliament and does represent any constituency.

He, however, urged them to strive and be loyal to their country, but should ensure that integrity precedes everything they do.

“Strive to be loyal to your country, be smart, intelligence, and above all, you need integrity, let your integrity be your guide, let me also sound a caution; you are allowed to be political in your discussions and not partisan, since this is not an elected Parliament, you don’t represent anybody, you have voluntarily offered to participate in the process, you don’t represent any halls, houses or constituencies.

“Yes, you can be political which means looking at things from different sides, but not to be TESCON, TAIN or any other. You are just students who desire to debate national issues or offer solutions from the students point of view”. He advised.

The 1st Deputy Speaker made this passionate appeal during the inauguration ceremony of the Koforidua Technical University Parliament on Saturday.

Speaker Joseph Osei-Owusu also advised the students to find the formation of the Students’ Parliament, as a call for them to get on board and join the various efforts in national development.

“All of us have a responsibility to protect our Parliamentary democracy and we owe it to posterity to discharge this duty faithfully and conscientiously”. He indicated.

He also encouraged the students to take their education seriously as they prepare to assume the mantle of leadership.

According to him, it is important for the students to adequately prepare themselves in readiness for future roles.

He urged the student Parliamentarians to master their mock on Parliament process which is a preparation ground for greater responsibilities in future, adding that, Twenty five (25) years of uninterrupted Parliamentary democracy, Ghana’s democracy has come of age.

Mr. Kwame Ansah, the Principal Public Relations Officer of the Parliament of Ghana, also indicated that, the establishment of these students parliament will help influence governance in these universities.

He also explained that, views that are expressed out of these students’ parliamentary sittings can be put together in a memorandum that can be submitted to Parliament or the Committee of Education, which can also form part of legislation.

Mr. Ansah also encouraged the students to support the initiative and join the association in their numbers for it to be vibrant.

The Parliament of Ghana has over the years established Students’ Parliament in the various tertiary institutions, both public and private across the country to strengthen Parliamentary process, as well as deepen democratic processes.

Following the launch of the Students’ Parliament, there was a mock Parliament displayed by the students who debated on the theme; ‘National Insecurity in the country’.

Story: Richmond Adu Dwamena

You don’t need Aid but skilled workforce to grow- Hungarian Foreign Minister tells Ghana

You don’t need Aid but skilled workforce to grow- Hungarian Foreign Minister tells Ghana

The Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Minister Péter Szijjártó says Ghana doesn’t need Aid nor handouts from European countries to grow but rather a skilled workforce that can make their know-how available to the Ghanaian economy to ensure rapid development.

Addressing a gathering at a ceremony held at the premises of a newly built facility to officially inaugurate and re-open the Hungary Embassy in Ghana, Mr. Szijjártó said the government of Hungary in light of how it values Ghana and the rest of Africa has decided to increase it’s scholarship grants to the country to ensure that more Ghanaians get trained with skills that can be used to transform the economy.

To this end, the Hungarian Foreign Minister announced that his country’s government has decided to increase it’s scholarship grants to 100 slots from the previous 50.

The Foreign Minister of Hungary described as unfortunate the decision by his country to close their embassy in Ghana some 30 years ago. He associated that decision to the socialist regime that was in power then in his country. He added that the reopening of the embassy in Ghana marks the establishment of permanent diplomatic relations with Ghana.

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bamumia who was special guest of honour at the ceremony in his speech described as welcome news the reopening of the Hungarian embassy in Ghana. He added that the Nana Akufo Addo led administration is looking forward to increased Trade relations with Hungary.

Dr. Bawumia affirmed the assertion by the Hungarian Foreign Minister that Ghana doesn’t need Aid but a skilled workforce. He therefore welcomed the the gesture of the Hungarian government to award more scholarship awards to students of Ghana.

Ghana – Hungary Partnership To Boost Agricultural Production in Ghana.

The Ambassador of Hungary to Ghana, Mr András Szabó has said that innovation know-how and research is essential to the development of the agricultural sector in Ghana.

According to him, the future of our agriculture is dependent on these new innovations, technologies, and through research, give insight into the future extra production rather than the small scale farming.The Ambassador said this when he was addressing participants at the first Ghanaian – Hungarian Agriculture Forum in Accra, yesterday.

Mr András Szabo said a team from the Hungarian National Agriculture Research & Innovation Center is in Ghana to do fact finding and explore the Agriculture sector for a further collaboration with Ghana’s research centres and universities, and also introduce their crops and seeds and the application of different modules from Europe to ascertain the best means of improving agricultural production for mutual benefit.

He noted that his country has also held extensive discussions with some Ghanaian farmers in the poultry and animal breeding industry to strategize on quality meat production.

Mr Szabo disclosed the intention to construct food processing units to support the current government’s ‘One District, One Factory’ (1D1F) program. In his remarks, Mr Victor Oppong Agyei, Chairman of Ghana Poultry Farmers Association, said local farmers are ready for the introduction of modern technological advancement of poultry equipment like processing plants and modern poultry houses to improve and enhance broiler production in the country.

‘My recent visit to Hungary has given me a clear indication of the capabilities and importance of Hungarian Agriculture potential and expertise of modern quality innovative technologies applied to the country’s agriculture and with a collaborative effort Ghana can learn, adopt and implement their technological knowledge to advance the aged methodology of farming for a valuable and desirable improvement of our condition,’ he opined. Mr Oppong Agyei, however, appealed to the Hungarian private sector to consider introducing possible investment opportunities to expand and compete with the influx of imported frozen chicken.

In a statement, Mr Davies Korboe, President of National Farmers and Fishers Award Winners Association, Ghana (NFFAG) has implored the Hungarian government to make useful investment into the Ghanaian agricultural sector by considering value addition/cottage industries and capital injections.
This, he said, will help to address some of the challenges including high post-harvest losses and rural infrastructure, being faced by our farmers to the mutual benefit of both countries.

He has, therefore, proposed the formation of Ghana – Hungary Agricultural Chamber to share various ideas and collaborations on farming and value chain,

Havilahpressforafrica (HPA)

GHANA INSTITUTION OF SURVEYORS (GHIS) DONATE BURNS BATH MACHINE TO KOLE-BU

A delegation from Ghana Institution of Surveyors led by their President Mr. Edwin Addo-Tawiah, has donated items including burns bathing machine worth GHC35.000 to the burns department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. Interacting with journalists over the gesture, Mr. Addo Tawiah, said the donation was borne out of a visit they made Korle-Bu last year where they discovered that the department was in dire need of such a facility. This, he noted influenced their thought to buy one for them from South Africa at a cost of GHC35,000. Receiving the items, Head of the Burns Department of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, lauded the gesture made by the GHIS and urged all Ghanaians to do same since they are in need of more of such facility. The department, he said, until the donation by the GHIS, had only one burnt bath machine. Mr. Tawiah in a sharp response promised that his outfit will do anything within their might to support the department, urging them to look up to them for more of such facility.

What measures the Ministry is putting in place to prevent non-Ghanaian citizens from acquiring Ghanaian passports. Hon Samuel Okudzato Ablakwa

Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, had asked hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, what measures the Ministry is putting in place to prevent non-Ghanaian citizens from acquiring Ghanaian passports.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, Thursday, told Parliament that the passport office is seriously embarking on various measures aimed at ensuring that only citizens of Ghana are issued with Ghana passports.

The Ministry, she noted, has consistently taken a number of measures towards enhancing the security and integrity of the Ghanaian passport as well as instituting safeguards to prevent the acquisition of Ghanaian passports by foreigners.

A significant and most important measure in this regard, she added, is through rigorous or physical verification of an applicant as well as their citizenship document by the security agencies and the passport office as well as the Birth and Death department.

She made this observation, Thursday, when she appeared before Parliament to answer to questions relating to what her outfit is doing to prevent the acquisition of Ghanaian passports by foreigners.

The Rt. Honourable Speaker of Parliament led a Parliamentary delegation to the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Rt. Honourable Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye on Friday 13th October 2017 led a Parliamelntary delegation to participate in the 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly which took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, from 14th – 18th October 2017.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker as part of his participation, delivered a keynote address at the IPU General Assembly Meeting. He underscored the need for the developed countries to support Africa to consolidate economic and political development.

He described the consolidation of the economic and political development as a second wind of change in Africa and acknowledged the role played by development partners to bring about the change.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker also touched on the need for the developed countries to be concerned about poverty, diseases and misery in Africa. He made it clear that there cannot be a fair global order in which a whole continent of Africa is compelled to gravitate towards Europe in search for greener pastures.

He therefore drew the world’s attention to the need to actively offer quality partnership to African countries to address these challenges. He noted the need for a New World Economic Order that will be mutually beneficial.

The Speaker was accompanied by both the Majority Leader, Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu. Other members of the delegation included: Hon. Matthew Nyindam, 1st Deputy Majority Whip, Hon. Ahmed Ibrahim, 1st Deputy Minority Whip, Hon. Mercy Adu-Gyamfi, MP, Hon. Naana Eyiah Quansah, MP, Mr. Emmanuel Anyimadu, Clerk to Parliament and Alhaji Ibrahim Gombilla, Deputy Clerk.

The Rt. Hon. Speaker and the delegation also held a joint meeting with Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the delegation from the Nigerian National Assembly.
The delegation also held an interactive meeting with some Ghanaian students in Russia.

The theme for the IPU Assembly was: “Promoting Cultural Pluralism and Peace through Inter-faith and Inter-ethnic Dialogue.”
Some of the issues discussed at the IPU Assembly included: the draft resolutions on the 20th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Democracy (by IPU standing Committee on Democracy and Human Rights), the role of the UN General Assembly in International Governance (by IPU standing Committee on United Nations Affairs), briefing on the parliamentary contribution to the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference and a debate on engaging the private sector in implementing the SDGs, especially on renewable energy (by the IPU standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and trade).

Others were the expert hearing on sustaining peace as a vehicle for achieving sustainable development (by IPU standing Committee on Peace and International Security) and the election of a new IPU President. The delegation was back in the country on Friday 20th October 2017.