Accompanied by the Political Chief at the US Embassy, Robert Carlson, the purpose of Ambassador Jackson’s call on Nana Akufo-Addo was formally to introduce himself as the new US Ambassador to Ghana, following his arrival in the country in January this year.
The NPP flagbearer and Ambassador Jackson discussed issues bordering on governance, security and the economy of Ghana, as well as the fostering of bilateral and trade relations between the two countries.
On the issue of the transfer of the two Guantanamo Bay detainees to Ghana, a move which has generated huge public debate, the US Ambassador explained to Nana Akufo-Addo that the transfer was done with the understanding that the United States will be responsible for the upkeep of the detainees for 2 years, stressing that there are similar agreements in 55 other countries.
Ambassador Jackson assured that the two detainees do not pose a threat to Ghana’s security, as they were vetted thoroughly before being transferred to Ghana.
He noted, however, that “I understand Ghanaians are concerned, and this is largely because of misinformation and lack of information”.
Nana Akufo-Addo, in his response to the issue of the Gitmo 2, noted that the issue was badly handled by the Mahama government, and had the potential of undermining the excellent relationship between Ghana and the United States of America.
The NPP flagbearer explained that “none of the institutions of State, not even Parliament, were consulted on the issue. Political parties were not consulted before this decision was taken. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of Ghanaians and civil society were strongly against this decision.”
He, however, added that “even though we have strived and will continue to strive for strong ties of co-operation between our two countries, we recognise that, at the end of the day, decisions that are taken must serve the mutual interest of the two partners. Ghanaians are yet to be persuaded that this decision was in our national interest.”
With some months to the holding of the elections, Nana Akufo-Addo reiterated the need for the creation of a level-playing field for all political parties in the country by the Electoral Commission.
“We continue to be concerned about the way the EC is handling issues ahead of the November 7 election. The procedures and steps being taken for the election appear to be still up in the air. There is an air of uncertainty about the whole preparatory process towards November 7. We in the NPP are not interested in a sham democracy,” he said.
He continued, “I am saying so because the conditions of living of our people at the moment are as bad as I have ever seen them. The impoverishment and the difficulties they are going through are placing a great deal of strain on them. Even the date for November 7, as I am hearing from our Members of Parliament, might even be missed. It is, therefore, important that an air of confidence in the electoral process is felt by all. We need to assure our people that if it is change that they want, or if they want to maintain a government in office, they should be able to get it from our electoral process. This is how our democracy can be strengthened.”
Priority areas of governance
When asked by Ambassador Jackson for his thee priority areas should Ghanaians entrust the mandate of leadership into his care in the elections of November, Nana Akufo-Addo stated that his first priority will be to revive Ghana’s ailing economy, and subsequently transform it from a raw material producing one to a value added economy.
The revival of the economy means the reintroduction of discipline in our fiscal management and in our monetary policy so that the right conditions for production can be created
“Tackling the issue of corruption in our country will be yet another major focus of my government. Now, the Institutions of governance in our country are working at low levels. We need to assure our people that we are not coming into office to rip off the State, but to improve their well-being. In this regard, I plan to establish an office of an Independent Special Prosecutor to tackle corruption in a non-partisan manner. I also plan to ensure that my appointees and I are held to an acceptable standard of conduct.”
Member of Parliament for Subin Constituency Isaac Osei, who is also the Minority Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and also present at the meeting, commended the US for Millennium Challenge Account Compact programme signed with Ghana, as it had impacted greatly on the lives of Ghanaians.
He further hoped that other “mini-compacts” that were signed between the two countries, from July to December 2015, in specific sectors of the economy, would be expanded to cover other aspects of national life as well.
Ambassador Jackson indicated the willingness of the US government to respond to specific needs to reinforce the good relations between our two countries.
MP for Anyaa Sowutuom Ayorkor Botchway, who is a former Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, in her brief remarks, urged the new Ambassador to take a special interest in Ghana, especially in this election year, just as US officials took in the process leading to the recent Nigerian elections.
“Because Ghana has gained a reputation as a beacon of peace and stability, many people are of the view that nothing can go wrong in Ghana. On the surface, it may look peaceful, but there are simmering undercurrents which need to be addressed. We need to protect our democracy and the US must help in this regard.”
Nana Akufo-Addo, in concluding the meeting, reiterated the NPP’s commitment to a peaceful election in Ghana.
He thanked Ambassador Jackson for the courtesy of his visit, and asked the Ambassador to extend his regards to US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.