Feature Article of Thursday, 25 February 2010
Columnist: Eshun, Emmanuel
To Ghanaians he is a born again Christian, an advisor to the President on energy who has nothing but the best interest of our dear country at heart. To Ghanaians, he exemplifies modesty and abhors arrogance. But if Ghanaians knew the Real Tsatsu Tsikata, Chief Executive of Sratoil, a company negotiating with Ghana on oil deals while he himself advises the president on energy, they would be up in arms to stop this “clear and present danger” to the country we all hold dear.
To know Tsatsu Tsikata, first consider the relatively intangible aspect of his life. Like Uganda’s Idi Amin, he used his position as Chief Executive of GNPC to snatch the wife of his subordinate, whom he sent abroad on an extensive trip. When the poor man returned home, his wife, Ester Cobah was in such a serious relationship with Tsikata she ended up marrying the boss. That is how the former lecturer ended up getting married for the first at an alarming age of 50, a Ghanaian anomaly.
In more tangible terms, the real Tsatsu Tsikata’s tribalistic penchant is well in display by the company he keeps. Is it a coincidence that majority of his protégés are Ewes, but with Akan-sounding names to trick the Ghanaian public? In the energy sector, he has Thomas Manu (Northern Volta) as the top technical official, and Nana Asafo-Adjei (Ewe) as Chief Executive of GNPC. Then at Tema Oil Refinery, he has installed Kwame Ampofo (Ewe) as the director. At the Ministry of Energy’s Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOOST), Tsikata has installed one Akoto (also an Ewe) as director. That is a disproportionate representation for a group that comprises less than 9% of the Ghanaian population.
To further deepen his control, he has filled the GNPC Board with his former students including Temeng of Houston, a move that has rendered Chairman Atto Ahwoi completely helpless to influence any decisions. That explains why Tsikata was able to walk to the Castle to kill the Kosmos/ExxonMobil deal just before he sneaked out of the country to meet with oil services companies at his London office. That is a lot of power for an unvetted, ex-convict over such a vital component of our economy. If Ghanaians were wondering why GNPC issued conflicting statements on whether or not the Kosmos/ExxonMobil deal had been blocked, that is their explanation.
Behind the scenes, Tsatsu Tsikata has had his way unchallenged in the oil and gas sector. Why else would he be able to single-handedly engineer a massive political witch hunt against those who prevailed where he failed even when other administration officials have conceded they cannot find anything wrong with the KOsmos/EO deal that brought oil to Ghana. Ironically, for over fifteen years, he tried and failed to discover oil for Ghana when he was handed the reigns of GNPC. In his frustration, he gambled and lost millions of Ghana’s money on oil futures. No sooner had he left GNPC that the new Kufuor administration presided over discovery of oil in commercial quantities.
Today he has succeeded in convincing Ghanaians that Kufuor gave the kitchen away by securing only 10% for all of Ghana in the Kosmos PRE-DISCOVERY oil deal. Just yesterday, Tsikata and his surrogates fronting for him as Gulf Atlantic Energy have signed a POST-DISCOVERY deal with Japan’s Matsui giving Ghana the same 10%. What’s worse, the deal was rushed through Parliamentary approval without a quorum. The difference between a pre-discovery and post-discovery deal is that the former is characterized by a half-willing investor who thinks he is merely rolling the dice on Ghana whereas the latter deals with an investor who knows there is oil in the area.
For someone who failed to discover oil when given the chance, Tsikata has been very busy trying to cash in on what others found. Since January of 2009, Tsikata as an “advisor to the president on energy” has made three times as many oil and gas related trips abroad than all other energy sector officials combined. Not Only has he positioned his Virgin Island-registered, London-headquartered Stratoil company as the local representative of major oil services companies operating in Ghana, he has secured GNPC’s public relations contract for his wife’s Stratcom at the rate of $25,000 per month.
Meanwhile his own Stratoil is representing (at the commission rate of 15%) MODEC, the company contracted to build the supertanker that will lift oil from the sea. This deal is worth over $1.5 billion, which translates into $225 million for Tsikata’s Stratoil. Further, he is the middleman for the deal with Nigeria’s Oranto, about which even the Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Energy Honorable Asaga knows nothing. Finally, because he was not in the position to benefit from Kosmos’ sale of its stake to ExxonMobil, Tsikata is hell bent on killing that deal so that his stratoil would lead the Chinese to buy it, an unnecessary meddling that has all but pushed the target date of oil production into 2011 instead of later this year.
Tsikata’s modus operandi is exposed. He knows dealing with these oil services companies at his official Castle office would expose him to his colleagues. Therefore all oil-related meetings are held at his Cantonements residence. And when he travels abroad, he has devised a new route after Ghana Oil Watchdog exposed his travels. Tsikata now travels by road to Lome where he catches Air France to Paris before catching the train to London where his Stratoil offices are located.
When news began to circulate that Tsikata has disappeared after one of our exposes, he made a cameo appearance at the Rawlings’ Ridge residence to show his face where the cameras were certain to be on Sunday February 14 after the fire. This time, because he had meetings scheduled in London with oil services companies doing business in the Jubilee Field the following day, he had no choice but to fly out of Accra on British Airways Business Class that same evening.
Tsikata may still be under the illusion that his PNDC era clandestine methods are still applicable in today’s information age. Ghana Oil Watchdog and Diaspora Business Council have networks around the world that monitors activities related to oil and gas as well as other business interests. He is well advised to know that every move of his is known to these organizations. If he parades himself as having Ghana’s interest at heart in everything he does, he should lead a life of transparency.
That, however, is not the case. The real Tsikata is fixated on living a conflicted life filled with guilt on just about everything he accuses others of. Like his compatriot Rawlings, his holier-than-thou attitude smacks of ridicule especially when you consider their similarities. Rawlings rose to power by the gun but killed everyone else who tried to overthrow his dictatorial regime. Tsikata flies around the world in First Class illegally negotiating oil deals on a discovery that he could not make happen, but accuses the very people who engineered the discovery of criminality. They both rose from rags to riches not from hard work but from abuse of power, but they turn around and accuse everyone else of being unjust to others. If Ghanaian do not rise up and stop Tsatsu Tsikata in his tracks, he will singlehandedly lead Ghana to the same destination where most African oil producing countries have ended. Tsikata is indeed a Clear and Present Danger to Ghana.
Emmanuel Eshun – Diaspora Business Council (Vancouver, Canada)