The president of the Senate (Parliament) of Nigeria, Dr Abubakar Olubankola Saraki, has commended the Akufo-Addo-led government for its people-centred programmes designed to better the life of the ordinary person on the streets of Ghana.
Recounting some of the programmes, which have begun to yield positive results just over a year after the NPP assumed office, Dr Saraki described them as ‘milestone achievements’.
The Senate President gave the commendation when he and a delegation from the Nigerian Senate paid a courtesy call on the Vice President of the Republic, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, at the Flagstaff House on Monday 5th March, 2018.
“I commend you on the people-oriented programmes. You know the world is a small village, and some of these good things that you are doing, we are reading about it”, he emphasized.
Dr Saraki is in the country to deliver a lecture as part of events to mark 25 years of uninterrupted parliamentary democracy in Ghana, which also coincides with Ghana’s 61st independence anniversary celebration. He was accompanied by the Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, Rt Hon Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye and the Minority and Majority Whips of the Nigerian Senate together with the Chairpersons of the Banking, Foreign Affairs and other committees of that country’s Senate.
“It’s my great pleasure to be part of the celebration of 25years of uninterrupted democracy; let me congratulate you and your government for that”, he noted.
“We are here to be part of the celebration and use that opportunity to strengthen the relationship between our two countries…; the relation goes back many years and I think it’s our responsibility as governments to sustain that special relationship”, he emphasized.
He called on the leaders of the subregion, particularly in Ghana and Nigeria to pay greater attention to job creation to meet the aspirations of the teeming youth while deepening trade and other mutual ties.
“I believe at this time too we have the responsibility to address the challenges of our people regarding jobs – employment of our teeming youth. We must reposition the African continent. We have the resources, we have the people and I think we need to have good governance to be able to drive it and also the right kind of laws.
“I believe we need do that for us to be able to sit down and address particular issue of trade and ensure economic empowerment for our people.”
The Nigeria Senate President thanked the government and people of Ghana for the opportunity offered to many Nigerian students to access quality education in Ghana. “We have a lot of young students who are here who are being received very well; I thank you for that and we will continue to work closely together”.
In brief remarks, Vice President Bawumia recalled the longstanding ties between the West African neighbours, saying “Ghana and Nigeria, we are pretty much the same people when you look at it.”
“I think we should find ways to deepen that cooperation. Our paths to economic development are relatively similar; we all have quite significant endowments of natural resources and all of that and we are all also of the view that we have to move our economies beyond dependency”, he emphasized.
That, he said was because “the more we really trade amongst ourselves and invest in each other the better it is for our people and we want to really learn from each other…we look forward to closer ties between our two countries.”
Military deal: Bring the supposed agreement I signed to Parliament – Hanna Tetteh
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the erstwhile NDC administration has challenged the Minister of Defense, Dominic Nitiwul to also present to the august house of parliament the previous Ghana-US defence deal she is supposed to have signed for scrutiny as they have done with the new deal.
This she says will make it easier for the honourable members to do a comparison between the two agreements and also help the minister substantiate his point.
In an interview with Gold Power Drive host, Hanna Tetteh said, “I think that from the statements being made by officials of the NPP government, it is clear that this a new agreement. When you are signing a new agreement, it means that any provision you are unhappy with in the previous agreement you have the ability to renegotiate them. So this business of saying that whatever it is that they are bringing to parliament is as a result of things that were done by the previous government, it is just simply trying to pass the back and not taking responsibility for what they themselves have negotiated”.
“When I sign any agreement on behalf of another ministry and in this case the Ministry of Defense, it is not the case it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that has negotiated the agreement. The implementing ministry will be the ministry that takes responsibility for negotiating the details and because it is a country to country agreement, it is the reason why it will be signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs even if the implementing ministry is a different ministry. So this is not an agreement that was negotiated by me as minister of Foreign Affairs, it was signed by me on behalf of the Government Of Ghana and in this particular instance the Ministry of Defense” she explained.
She has also suggested that to make the matter clear and for the purposes of informing the Ghanaian public, the NPP government should make public the agreement that was signed by the previous NDC administration and also explain how that agreement commits the government to continue doing certain things today because she doesn’t believe that is the case.
“I read every agreement before I signed it and I don’t believe in my recollection that I signed any agreement committed Ghana to anything beyond the duration of that particular agreement. You sign an agreement and beyond a point it elapses and after that point, the obligations also elapse and you go ahead negotiate a new one and that is what they have done and this what they are now bringing to parliament for ratification. I haven’t seen that particular agreement that is been discussed because at the moment I was not in Ghana but I want to make it clear that there is nothing in the previous agreement that commits Ghana to the present agreement and if the minister wants to make that clear he should make available copies of that agreement” she pointed out.
20-year-old RTI Bill likely to be laid in Parliament today
The two decades old Right To Information (RTI) Bill is likely to be laid in Parliament today, Friday, March 23, 2018, following Cabinet consideration Thursday night.
The passage of the Bill will, however, have to wait until at least June this year.
Civil Society Groups including the RTI coalition stepped up pressure after President Akufo Addo’s independence day speech in which he committed to have the Bill presented to Parliament before it rises today, Friday.
It has been 22 years since the first Right to Information RTI Bill was drafted under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA.
Also, it is 16 years since the Executive arm of government in 2002 drafted the first RTI Bill. The draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was never laid in Parliament until February 5, 2010.
Government is under massive pressure to get the bill laid before parliament rises on Friday, March 23 following fears that the government was deliberately delaying the process.
“The Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu expects the Communications Committee of Parliament to study and consult widely on the Bill during Parliament’s recess to enable speedy work when the House reconvenes in May.
“This is not a Bill that can be considered under a certificate of urgency and be completed in one day. So the import of introducing it in Parliament will be for the Committee to be seized of it so that they can take it home during the recess and do the necessary consultation and report back to us mid-May. So that when we come back mid-May into when we shall adjourn again which will be July ending, we would have dealt with it.
” If the coast is clear sign is given, it will have to go to the Assembly press for gazetting, if it does go it can then come back to Parliament which is why I’m telling you it will come to Parliament in that state for it to be referred to the committee.”
Our sovereignty is not for sale – Ablakwa to US Ambassador
The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson should not be telling us [Ghana] that $20million in return for the Ghana-US military cooperation was a good return, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu and Minority Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has said.
According to him, comments by Mr Jackson that Ghana should be grateful for the monetary offer was “very regrettable.”
Based on an earlier memoranda signed in February 1998 and April 2015, the US government has requested for a new defence cooperation with Ghana.
The previous agreements were not known to Ghanaians because they were not taken to Parliament for ratification, even though US military has been in the country under those agreements.
Some variations in the new agreement as compared to the old ones have generated a public debate after it leaked.
The government and the Minority in Parliament have continued to slug it out this week with government justifying the proposed agreement whilst the Minority has called for its immediate withdrawal from Parliament arguing that, it would denigrate the sovereignty and autonomy of the government and the people of Ghana, as well as the laws of the country.
However, in a radio interview on Thursday, the US Ambassador to Ghana suggested that an investment of $20million in the Ghana Armed Forces in one year as part of the Ghana-US defence cooperation was a ‘pretty significant return’ that Ghana ought to be grateful.
But responding, Mr Ablakwa said, “I was disappointed hearing the Ambassador say that. I am unhappy and really depressed hearing that…the Ambassador should not be telling us that $20million is a good return, no!”
“You see, our bilateral relations should go beyond monetary terms, and when the discussion is about sovereignty, it’s about our image, it’s about Ghana’s peace and security, we should not be talking monetary terms,” Mr Ablakwa said in a radio interview with Accra based Joy FM.
The MP questioned: “How much will any country in this world, any country that has patriotic citizens, where they value their nation and respect themselves, will be putting up sovereignty for sale. So it shouldn’t be reduced to a discussion on monetary value.”
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