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Feature Article of Saturday, 17 April 2010

Columnist: Twumasi, Patrick

Conflict To Thrive With Black Gold In Ghana

After the discovery of another non-renewable natural resource, crude oil, which is
connotatively referred to as black gold, in Ghana, many were the statements made, as
if it has been the only to be exploited ever in the nation’s history.

Many were the renewable and non-renewable natural resources discovered and
exploited, or still remain untapped in Ghana’s economic past. Some of them are
gold, diamond, and cocoa. Others include, timber, bauxite, and human resource,
have all been, abysmally mismanaged to the detriment of a developing country like
Ghana. The present generation of Ghanaians is anxious of the crude oil discovered,
and holds the perception that, the entire economic challenges facing the nation
would varnish into thin air as Ghana would soon attain the Organisation of Petroleum
Exporting Countries (OPEC) status.

Despite years of extracting natural and human resource, Ghana still has to source
budgetary support from the World Bank. The query is, how judicious have funds from
these extractive resources been managed, including those still been exploited, which
gives us the impetus to believe with the black gold we would surely succeed? There
is a sage which says, a bird in hand is worthy two in the bush. Are the gold,
diamonds, cocoa, timber, bauxite and human resource in hand, not worth the oil?

Nevertheless, gold exploitation at Obuasi began almost at the same time with
Johannesburg in the Republic of South Africa (RSA). But, undoubtedly the rate of
development at Johannesburg is worthy a tale to tell. However, the story of Obuasi
is that of despise and desperation. The inhabitants of Obuasi are almost all the
time splitting hair, with AnglogoldAshanti, either ignoring its social
responsibility of exposing the inhabitants to one health hazard, or the other. This
calls on the Ghana Police Service, which often simply represents the calm before the
storm. Then the qualm is who is to control the revenue from the crude oil found in
Ghana? I do not generally believe every Ghanaian is dysfunctional, fractious and
fragile when it comes to managing funds from our extractive resource. But beyond
the spin, the question still remains, how changed are we in order not to fail with
the crude oil as with the other non-renewable resources?

Actually, many have been the resources that have been misappropriated by Ghanaians,
themselves. Ghana has been and will always be wealthy in human resource. This
is, what is use to develop a country efficiently. Ghanaians work with
international organizations like the United Nations, the Economic community of West
African States (ECOWAS), The Commonwealth of Nations, to mention but a few. The
notable personality proud to mention is the immediate past Secretary-General of the
United Nations (UN). Bosomuru Kofi Annan, and the former Legal Adviser at the
Commonwealth, Mrs. Betty Mould Iddrisu, the current Attorney–General and Minister
for Justice, they are all Ghanaians who have excelled and hoisted the flag of Ghana
proudly high. Equally the current President of ECOWAS, Ambassador, Victor Gbeho, and
the former Executive Secretary of ECOWAS, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas are all
illustrious sons that Ghana has gifted the international community. Not
forgetting the worthy daughter of the land, Professor Akua Kunyehia, a supervisor
at the International criminal court (ICC) in The Hague, Holland. There are yet,
others to emerge. But, why does Ghana still faces the challenge of managing her
own affairs, considering the magnitude of human resource available to her? This
human resource is of envy to many a nation. Ghana has failed in managing this
envious resource to her advantage. Therefore, what style of management do we take
to the black gold discovered?

In spite of the above, have we thought of diamond at Akwatia, and how it has been
handled? With the human resource at our disposal, we honestly have every excuse to
perform to perfectly achieve all that is there to be achieved in the vision 2020.
We, have no excuse to ruin our own enterprises. An example worth citing of a
mismanaged Ghanaian Public enterprise is Ghana telecommunications (Ghana Telecom).
It strolled under the management of Telecom Malaysia, then to the care of Telenor of
Norway, until it was finally delivered to Vodafone to also try their managerial
skills. Prior to the sale, workers and the entire nation was made to believe, if
Vodafone does not come to save Ghana Telecom, the corporation was on the verge of
collapse. The picture, I seek to present is, if Ghanaians who mismanaged Ghana
Airways are different from the Ghanaians who are to run the affairs of the oil found
then, Ghana is bound to be a success. But, without a
transformation in management style and change in attitude, the black gold would
also become another example of Ghana’s incompetence in managing her own
resources.

Another backbone of Ghana’s economy, without any doubt or second thought, has been
Cocoa, though timber also has contributed emencely to Ghana’s development.
Unfortunately our inability to manage resources appropriety has led to somewhat
embargo on it. Timber firms are asked by the Forestry Commission to plant a tree
wherever one is lumbered. This has not been followed deligently, and our forest
cover is gradually eroding. In terms of Cocoa, the mass cocoa spraying has been
politicised time and again, which often does not help matters. Ghana happened to
be the leading producer of Cocoa in the World. But Ghana has now fallen behind
Ivory Coast. What accounted for this sudden turn of events? What readily comes to
mind is the smuggling of cocoa from Ghana to Ivory Coast, by Ghanaians themselves.
Believe it, Tetteh Quashie is whimpering in his grave, for the reason, the cocoa he
risked to smuggled in to Ghana is been smuggled out by the people
he meant good for.

Forthrightly, Ghana has countless mismanagement past of her own resources. And this
attitude has been carried to virtually every national propriety without checks or
regret. This is still counting, and has cast Ghana badly. How have we pecked
ourselves of cromism and nepolism? What about the almighty “kickback”?

According to Emeritus Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, an eminent Ghanaian writer and
educationist, “The furthest east you run, the nearest west you get” This goes
to explain why Ghanaians must know the development of Ghana is the responsibility
that rest on the shoulders of Ghanaians themselves. A fact we can not run away
from. How long will Ghanaians keep misappropriating resources and running back to
the World Bank? For the reason, when one escape from the iciest north the fellow is
bound to be caught in the tangles of the coldest south. Ghanaians home and aboard
should put their shoulder to the wheel for success to be achieved with the black
gold.

Equally concerning is the fact, crude oil has brought enough conflict in Africa, not
to mention our West African neighbours Nigeria. The Ghana National Petroleum
Corporation (GNPC) should do well to reach agreements and contracts with national
interest at the core.

A Hebrew proverb says, he who is not satisfied with himself will grow. Indeed we
can not be satisfied with our resource management competence; hence there is the
need to change. We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise we
harden.

All said and done, we have to succeed, for posterity can not count the black gold as
part of our resources management failures.


Patrick Twumasi
A Journalist.
BA Psychology and Religions
(University of Ghana)

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