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Opinions of Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Columnist: Agbolosu, Komla Dzoboku

France, A Condescending Destitute or an Arrogant Mugger?

By: Komla Dzoboku Agbolosu – USA (bantuumfana@yahoo.com)

On July 18, 2011, we were many - at home and abroad - to read in the Ghanaian media that French Prime Minister, François Fillon, was on a two-day official visit to Ghana.

In an article on Ghana Web entitled “Ghana Signs New Loan Agreement With France”, we read that the visit of Mr. Fillon to Ghana was the first by a French Head of Government. Besides, the two countries renewed their commitments to bringing bilateral relations between them to a higher level. A loan of €40 million and a grant of €500,000 were given to Ghana.

As a developing country, it is my humble opinion that, Ghana would welcome any industrial nation willing to help and accompany her in the development-building process, only on condition that help and assistance, whether in the form of loans, grants or any other, are genuine.

But where is France coming from, and why now? Which France are we talking about here?

France has a small oil production capacity and statistics show that in 2005, France produced 73,500 barrels of crude oil per day. The same year, France consumed 1.97 million barrels of oil per day. Because of this energy imbalance, France imports oil from Norway, Russia, Saudi-Arabia and the United Kingdom. Besides, it is largely dependent on Nuclear Energy.

With her loss in the Algerian war of independence in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, France quickly consolidated its position in the newly-independent nation of Gabon, primarily because she had lost the enormous oil benefits in Algeria. Lessons learned in Algeria made France to position a military base in the Gabonese capital of Libreville.

Before, during and after the 1967-1970 Biafra war of secession in Nigeria, France provided logistics to the Nigerian rebels in form of weapons and training through her military base in nearby Gabon. Long before the war ended, Ojukwu had a safe haven in Abidjan, the Ivorian economic capital.

Former Ivorian President Félix Houphouet-Boigny was ever present as France’s interface in most part of Africa. In doing that, ex-rebel leader Jonas Savimbi who torched oil-rich Angola in one of the most devastating civil wars in African history had a base, not only for himself and his immediate family in Abidjan, but an official seat and staff in Côte d’Ivoire. Savimbi was also said to have held an Ivorian diplomatic passport.

All the time that the wars lasted in Liberia and Sierra Leone, former warlord Charles Taylor, his family and a good number of his men had a safe haven in Abidjan.

In a statement made by President Houphouet-Boigny in the 1980’s, the then Ivorian leader said: “I have known a president who thought I was hiding a general. Then I knew a general who thought I was hiding a colonel. Now, I have to deal with an ordinary captain. Let’s not even listen to him because he does not prevent us from sleeping.” The identities of the various personalities listed in Houphouet-Boigny’s statement above became evident as President Maurice Yaméogo, Lt. Colonel Aboucar Sangoulé Lamizana, Col. Saye Zerbo and Cpt. Thomas Sankara, all of then-Upper Volta, now Burkina-Faso.

As we were to witness later, on October 15, 1987, Cpt. Thomas Sankara could not “prevent” Houphouet-Boigny “from sleeping” because Sankara was murdered, in one of the most treacherous plots in human history, in a coup led by Blaise Compaoré… “Et tu, Compaoré!” In 1985, Compaoré married Chantal Terrasson de Fougères, now Mrs. Chantal Compaoré, as proposed by Houphouet-Boigny, and returned home with a luxurious Mercedes-Benz car as a gift from his mentor.

Putting two and two together, Houphouet-Boigny’s reasons for providing safe haven to war lords, and resources to Blaise Compaoré, to me, are not other than assisting France in maintaining her grip over oil and other mineral-producing African countries like Nigeria, Angola, Liberia and Sierra-Leone, but also for Houphouet-Boigny himself to revert the trend of loosing farm hands in Ivorian cocoa farms. He did that because soon after Sankara came to power, Burkinabes began returning home en masse, leaving behind the works they were doing in Ivorian cocoa and coffee plantations. Consequently, cocoa production took a deep plunge in Côte d’Ivoire in the mid to late 1980’s.

Since independence in 1957, Ghana made her first sale of crude oil in January 2011, and ranks as Sub-Saharan Africa’s seventh largest producer of oil. In July of the same year, we saw the first official visit of the Head of Government from France to Ghana… in the name of bilateral relations?

Bilateral relations must be made of more decent objects!

Here is my take on this: France has never come to term with the simple fact that colonization is now history, and true partnership between nations must be the only rule of the global game. Like a predator, France is constantly lurking around the globe in her hungry search for economic opportunities.

It is still time to turn down France and her so-called bilateral assistance to Ghana because, given the chance the French are looking for, they will soon want to dominate Ghana’s emerging economy and if that does not work in their favour, then we must not be surprised to wake up one morning only to discover that: (1) someone from the Western Region of Ghana has declared secession from the rest of the country; (2) in the cacophony and disinformation by foreign media that will ensue, attempts to insult our intelligence will be made by trying to make us believe that the rest of Ghana is led by a notorious dictator; (3) that Ghana’s elected president - branded a dictator - must be removed very quickly to avert crimes against humanity. Needless to say that United Nations forces that would be deployed to Ghana can count on French troops from nearby Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Gabon “to free the people of Ghana from the grip of a dictator.”

Right now, France must be seen as a destitute that lacks the humility of asking for the help that she needs, but one that is ready to encroach on Ghana’s wealth by condescending in the name of a €40 million loan and a €500,000 grant just to achieve her goal.

How much is €40.5 million compared to the gains that await the French government and private businesses in France if they are allowed to put their filthy hands in Ghana’s economy?