General News of Monday, 23 January 2017
The Defence Minister designate, Mr Dominic Nitiwul, says the government will take a decision on the two Guantanamo Bay detainees after reviewing the intelligence available.
Responding to a question when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament last Friday, Mr Nitiwul said the previous government took the decision to accommodate the two detainees based on the intelligence at the time.
“In the same way, this government is going to analyse all the intelligence related to this particular case and take a decision,” he told the committee.
He was responding to a question by the Member for Tamale North, Alhaji Alhassan Sayibu Suhuyini, whether he (Nitiwul) would advise the President to send back the two detainees to America.
Alhaji Suhuyini referred to a statement by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, during the electioneering, that the presence of the two detainees in the country had opened Ghana to external attacks.
Allowance to security forces
Based on a pledge made in the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) manifesto to adjust the allowance given to members of the security forces who went on international peacekeeping duties, the nominee was asked how much the government was going to increase the allowance.
In his response to the question, posed by the MP for Bodi, Mr Sampson Ahi, Mr Nitiwul gave an assurance that as the Mahama administration had not made good its promise to raise the current amount of $31 to $35, the NPP government was prepared to do so.
“What we said (and I actually said it) is that we are committed to increasing it to $35 and I can say for a fact that there is enough gap to meet that commitment; we are prepared to meet that commitment and we shall meet that commitment,” he stated.
Cyber security, employment, third military hospital
The Minister of Defence designate also answered questions relating to the government’s preparedness to deal with issues concerning cyber security, employment into the security services and the construction of a third military hospital in the northern part of the country.
The questions were posed by the MPs for Ablekuma West, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful; Manhyia North, Dr Matthew Opoku-Prempeh, and Lawra, Mr Anthony Karbo.
Mr Nitiwul advocated more investment to ensure that Ghana did not become a victim of cyber attacks.
On the question of fair and transparent recruitment into the security agencies, he said the law was clear on ensuring a regional balance in the security services.
He said there was, however, the need to ensure ethnic balance and pledged to look into the matter when given the nod, adding that he would also correct all anomalies to ensure everyone had a fair chance of recruitment into the security services.
He also gave an assurance that the government would fulfil its pledge to build a third military hospital in Tamale to serve the Northern Command of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) and also serve as an emergency centre for civilians living in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions.
On the matter of the murder of the Bimbilla Naa, he said the government would uphold the principles of justice to uphold the law as it continued the search for the perpetrators.
Evacuation from The Gambia
The MP for North Tongu, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, asked if Mr Nitiwul would advise the President to consider the evacuation of Ghanaians from The Gambia, as there was no information on such an intended action if the need arose.
In response, the nominee said intelligence had informed the government that about 50,000 Ghanaians, largely made up of fisher folk, were in The Gambia, saying that the government had plans to evacuate them if things got to a head.
When given the nod as the Minister of Defence, the MP for Bimbilla will become the youngest minister, at 39, to hold that very sensitive and important portfolio.
Born on November 4, 1977, the former Deputy Minority Leader of Parliament, who has been an MP since 2009, started off as a teacher, having obtained his teacher’s Certificate ‘A’ from the Akrokerri Training College in 1995.
Mr Nitiwul continued his teacher education at the University College of Education, Winneba, where he first obtained a diploma in science education in 2001 and then a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) Science degree in 2002.
His first experience as a teacher was at the Local Authority JHS at Chamba in the Northern Region from 1995 to 1996, from where he moved to the St Joseph’s JHS at Gungumpa, his alma mater, where he was the headmaster but had the rank of assistant headmaster from 1996 to 1998 because he was then only a Certificate ‘A’ teacher.
Mr Nitiwul went on to teach at the E. P. Senior High School at Saboba in the Northern Region from 2001 to 2002, after which he put aside the chalk and went to Parliament.
As a very young member of the legislature from 2002 to 2005, he had the opportunity to attend the International Academy for Leadership in Germany where he pursued a course in Conflict Prevention and Conflict Management in 2003 and 2005.
That was his first encounter with security matters until he was nominated as a member of the Presidential Transition Team in charge of Defence last year.
Mr Nitiwul has a wealth of experience from his time spent in the legislature and has served on various committees of the House, including the Appointments Committee, in addition to rising to the position of Deputy Minority Leader from 2013 to 2017.
It was, therefore, not surprising that when the nominee appeared before the Appointments Committee at approximately 9:15 p.m. last Friday, the preamble by the Chairman, Mr Joseph Osei-Wusu, was that the rules should be relaxed to “make it as smooth and swift as possible” for Mr Nitiwul as their tradition was when they vetted leaders in Parliament.
That, however, did not prevent the committee from posing very pertinent questions bordering on the portfolio for which Mr Nitiwul had been nominated, although his vetting took only about 50 minutes.