It was advertised as an event that would bring the three most influential personalities in the search for oil in commercial quantities together. However, it turned out to be a one-man show.
Former President John Agyekum Kufuor and his immediate predecessor, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, were left on the tarmac of the Takoradi Air Force Base, while President John Evans Atta-Mills flew alone in a helicopter to turn the wheel that brought the first drum of oil, to signify the commercial drilling of oil in Ghana.
No explanation has been offered for the near slap in the face of the two men who worked tirelessly to ensure that Ghana joined the exclusive club of oil producing countries.
The Chronicle learnt yesterday that the programme drawn for the event did not involve the appearance of the two former presidents on the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah, hence the decision to leave them with other invited guests, waiting on the tarmac.
Many people The Chronicle spoke to in Takoradi and in Accra were disappointed that the two former heads of state did not stand with the President when he performed one of the most important state functions, since the declaration of Ghana’s independence from British rule, in the wee hours of March 6, 1957.
According to official records from the FPSO vessel, Prof Atta Mills arrived aboard a golden chopper (helicopter) at about 9:45 a.m. to perform the ceremony. He was given a guided tour of the 330-metre long floating platform, which is located 60 kilometres off the coast.
The Jubilee Field was discovered in June 2007, and holds an estimated 1.8 million barrels of oil. Initial production is estimated at 55,000 barrels a day. Oil production will hit 120,000 barrels a day over the next six months, according to official estimates.
The Government of Ghana expects the production of oil and gas to double Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth to 12 percent by next year, to boost infrastructure and lay the foundation for new industries.
After the President had commissioned the first oil production, he returned to the Air Force Base to address an ecstatic crowd, including chiefs and other dignitaries.