Business News of Thursday, 23 February 2012

Source: Business Analyst

Ghana Gas, Western Chiefs In Crucial Meeting

…Over Gas Project Location

…As Buah Fends off Conspiracy Theories

… ‘How Can I Buy My Own Fathers’ Land,’ he quizzes

By J. Ato Kobbie, Managing Editor [The Business Analyst]
The Western Regional House of Chiefs, will on Thursday play host to a high-powered Ghana National Gas Company (Ghana Gas) team, which would be giving a full briefing to the House on its activities towards implementing the country’s gas infrastructure project, in the region.
The meeting comes on the heels of recent accusations by the chiefs and people of the Western Nzema Traditional Council (WNTC), at a press conference addressed by the paramount chief of the area, Awulae Annor Adjaye III, who attacked two public servants from the region, Hon. Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, Deputy Minister of Energy (Petroleum) and Dr. George Sipa-Adjah Yankey, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ghana Gas.
The WNTC, among other things, accused the two of masterminding recent suggestions that the site for the country’s maiden gas infrastructure, which is to process gas from the Jubilee Field for power generation and other uses, is relocated from the Domunli enclave in the Jomoro District to Atuabo in the Ellembelle District.
Recalling earlier assurances given the people of the area by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), which led to the release of 18.9kilometres of land, Awulae Annor Adjaye III, expressed surprise at suggestions that the Atuabo area was more suitable, saying the place being a perennially flooded area, would cost the nation more to fill.
Even though there have been some opposition by some of the people in the Domunli enclave, evidenced by a court action, seeking to prohibit further progress of work until compensation was paid, the signal that the area risked losing the project to neighbouring Atuabo has brought home the reality of the potential loss facing them.
Apart from the chiefs, a youth group in the Jomoro area, has also been protesting against the relocation of the project to Atuabo, and has petitioned the Western Nzema Traditional Council, officials of GNPC, Hon. Samia Nkrumah, who is MP for Jomoro, the DCE and chiefs and elders of the area.
The WNTC had further alleged that Hon. Buah and Dr. Yankey were motivated by personal considerations other than technical and economic reasons, accusing the former of attempting to buy 100 acres of land from Nana Kabina Tindenle, Chief of Kabina Suazo, a suburb of Half Assini in the Jomoro District, under the paramountcy, for sale to Chinese investors.
Fight Back
Meanwhile, Hon. Buah, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ellembelle Constituency, has vehemently denied any involvement in a land sale or an attempted land sale to any Chinese company.
Speaking to The Business Analyst on Tuesday, following a republication of the allegations on the internet by a group, which describes itself as Mediawatch Research Associates, Hon. Buah wondered, “How can I buy my own fathers’ land?”
He described the accusations as false and only meant to damage his reputation by people who are assuming wrongly that he had the power to cause the change of a project site in the region. [See full rejoinder statement below].
Hon. Buah said the Ministry of Energy and Government were awaiting recommendations of Ghana Gas, to guide in taking a decision on the matter, assuring however, that no matter where the project would be sited, it would be the basis for a lot of industries springing up in the region, to create more jobs for the people.
He assured of government’s commitment to facilitating the development of the area, calling on the wider Nzema area not to allow the disagreement to stall the development of their area.
Meanwhile, Dr. Yankey, who also hails from the Nzema area, has maintained that the project site could be changed only based mainly on technical and engineering reasons and not on political or emotional reasons.
In a recent interview with The Business Analyst, Dr. Yankey, indicated that Ghana Gas was awaiting the results of geodetical and geophysical studies that it had commissioned, before making recommendations to the Minister of Energy and government for a decision.
Sinopec, under the agreement under a Project Implementation Agreement with Ghana Gas, is pre-financing the ongoing work, to be re-imbursed from a US$3billion China Development Bank (CDB) loan.
In reviewing site options available for the project, the Sinopec identified the Atuabo site as the most suitable, confirming an earlier study undertaken in 2008. [See Ghana Gas Steers Off Litigation in The Business Analyst, Wednesday, February 8th – Tuesday, February 14th 2012.]
Meanwhile, the paper has gathered also that the people of Shama are eagerly yearning on the flanks, ready to offer land for the project, if the rivalry between the Jomoro and Ellembelle area over the gas project site continued.
It is envisaged that the regional house of chiefs, some of whose members had stormed parliament during the debate for the approval of the CDB loan, would prevail on their members to exercise the utmost restraint in order to maintain the peace of the area to facilitate development.
The full statement of the rejoinder by Hon. Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, is reproduced below:

My attention has been drawn to a story with the above headline posted on Ghanaweb, February 21, 2012 by a group describing itself as Mediawatch Research Associates, which alleges among other things that I, Emmanuel Kofi Buah, Deputy Minister for Energy and MP for Ellembele and another Minister, Alhaji Collins Dauda have sold 100 acres of government lands in the Brong Ahafo and Western Region to a Chinese company-HuangDong Construction and Mining Company- and in the process received payments of over 300,000 dollars.
The story further alleges that I have been made a Non-Executive Director by the said company on a monthly payment of 10,000 dollars.
I wish to state categorically that there is no iota of truth in the story that is maliciously calculated to destroy my image and hard-won reputation as the elected representative of the Ellembele Constituency and Deputy Minister of State.
For the records and for the avoidance of any doubt, let me state categorically that I have never facilitated the sale nor sold government lands in the Evalue-Gwira Constituency or any part of the country to any Chinese company.
For this reason, I have never received the said payment as alleged in the story and do not serve as Non-Executive Director of any Chinese Company.
My oath of office and my personal philosophy would not permit me to do as such.
I challenge the so-called Mediawatch Research Associates to do the ethical thing by providing that hard evidence that will prove beyond any doubt that I have indeed facilitated the sale or sold any government land to a Chinese Company.
It must never be enough for individuals or organisations to publish allegations of such nature without evidence or proof on the Ghanaweb, which has global viewership. It is also sad to note that such publications can be allowed on Ghanaweb, when the authenticity, physical location of the group, and contact information of groups publishing the story are unknown.
I will urge Mediawatch Research Associates, in the national interest to present their evidence of my supposed involvement in the said activity to the security agencies or do the right thing by retracting the story and apologise.
I reserve the right to pursue justice to clear my name.
Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah
MP, Ellembelle Constituency
Deputy Minister of Energy
[The print version of this story is published in The Business Analyst of Wednesday, February 22nd – Tuesday, February 28th, 2012]