Making use of oil revenue

The Head of State was ecstatic. “Today is a great day, and a great day is today,” President John Evans Atta Mills screamed, revisiting the verbal gymnastics of Kwame Kwakye, former District Commissioner of Akim Oda, in the days when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah stood astride national politics like a colossus.

President John Evans Atta Mills had just turned the wheels of the pipeline that would bring oil from the oil rig to the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah to signify the formal drilling of oil in the country. Like most nationals, the occupant of Government House was happy that the oil revenue would be used to help revamp the national economy.

He praised companies and individuals who had helped in one way or the other to make it possible for Ghana to be classified among the oil producing countries. He cited his two immediate successors, ex-presidents John Agyekum Kufuor and Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, for their foresight in investing in the venture.

He also praised Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, the Jubilee Partners, made up of Kosmos Energy, Anadarko Petroleum and Tullow Ghana Limited, for working hard to strike oil in commercial quantities for Ghana.

The Chronicle is disappointed that the President failed to acknowledge the role of the EO Group in the whole venture. We are aware of the long drawn-out battle to deny the group and its two partners their share in Kosmos. But this was not the platform for the Head of State to be selective in his praise.

We are aware of the political persecution that has be-devilled the oil industry since the administration of the former law lecturer took centre stage at the Castle. But this is not the time to be vindictive.

Yesterday was one of those days when one was proud to be Ghanaian. Whether or not officialdom would accept the basic fact, it is universally acknowledged that the EO Group brought Kosmos, which struck oil in commercial quantities with the aid of the other Jubilee Partners.

It is instructive to learn too that in the eyes of most Ghanaians, the administration of the former tax-man has exhibited a very low tolerance for keeping promises. We hope and pray that this time, the Government, and the many advisers parading the corridors of power, would use resources from our oil prudently.

The Chronicle wishes it could vouch on the President’s pledge to use the oil resources prudently. We are unable to do so, because even before the first barrel of the black gold was drawn, the revenue from oil had been used as collateral for the STX Korea deal, and the $13 billion or so to be borrowed from China.

In spite of admonition from those with experiences from the way oil resources are misused in oil producing nations in Africa, we have already taken the first step on the slippery road others took to destruction.

In a moment like this, it is natural to let the hair down a bit. In doing so, we are still mindful of the political application of resources which has the tendency to undermine revenue, which should accrue to this nation from the oil find.

How we sincerely hope that we could build some trust in this administration to do the right thing. We have to hope. It may be a pious hope. All the same we hope.

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