Foreign Policy and Security Expert, Adib Saani disagrees with statements from former Minister of State at the Ministry of Interior, Bryan Acheampong claiming foreign travels of Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo must be kept confidential.
He believes public knowledge of the President’s travels to a large extent poses no threat to the nation’s security. “Obviously anything politicians do should be in the interest of the state and they need to account for all they do. We use our taxes to service their travels, utility bills and accommodation. So if these politicians use our money and refuse to account for it, then that is the problem, a national security one.”
On his accord, if politicians refuse to be accountable as Bryan Acheampong is proposing, it can cause frustrations and confusion amongst the people, leading to agitations. “And that is why you usually hear of demonstrations in the country. Even now, the Economic Fighters League and #FixTheCountry Campaigners are planning on a demonstration.”
The Member of Parliament for Abetifi, Bryan Acheampong, has emphasised the need for President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s foreign travels to be kept highly confidential.
Mr. Acheampong, who was once a Minister of State at the Ministry of Interior, believes this will enhance the President’s security, as it will frustrate attempts to track his movements.
“My advice to the National Security Minister is that he should reclassify the President’s travels; the present and past, from confidential to secret or top secret. We have to be sensitive.”
“If the President decides that he needs to make a quick trip to Mali, even if he decides to go with the presidential flight, using flight tracker, you will know this is the tail number of Ghana’s presidential flight, and you are able to track it. Is that how you want to expose our President?” he quizzed.
Adib Saani understands Presidential travels in some extreme circumstances can be kept top secret, citing examples with the United States of America (USA). “Even in America, right from former President Bush, Obama to Trump, their travels have been made public except under extreme circumstances. If they are travelling to war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan which has security implications, they do not even inform the Presidential Press Corps. They only get to know where they are travelling to after reaching the airport.”
He however vehemently opposes the classification of every Presidential trip as top secret, as it is not feasible enough. “If President Akufo-Addo travels to an ECOWAS or AU Summit, he will definitely appear before the cameras and we will know he has travelled so why hid it?”
In an interview with Samuel Eshun on the Happy Morning Show, he described the suggestion from Bryan Acheampong as a betrayal to Ghanaians, asking him to apologize to the citizenry. “He is supposed to know better and be accountable to the citizenry.”
The President’s travels became a topical issue after the Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, filed two other urgent questions demanding disclosure of the full cost of President Akufo-Addo’s recent foreign trips without using the official presidential jet.
Speaking in Parliament during the debate on the 2022 budget statement, Mr. Acheampong said Mr. Ablakwa’s demand was needless, adding that the focus should rather be on the President’s safety and not the cost of his foreign travels.