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Opinions of Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Columnist: Tabi, Kingsley Owusu

Oil and Corruption - Impending Oil Revenue and the way ahead

I have chosen to digress from the norm of carping criticisms and tribal savagery that is often splashed on this very useful but misused site to offer something we could all tuck into.

I hope this article is not jumping the gun, but I think Ghanaians should perhaps look for more imagination and policy initiatives when it comes to choosing the next party to lead Ghana come 2008.

Specifically, I am talking about the party that is able to provide detailed forward plans for the potential utilisation of the Oil Revenues. We must demand this to avoid the: foreign exploitation, greed, corruption, confusion, conflict, desperation, marginilisation and bitterness which we are seeing in Nigeria, Sudan, Iraq and almost all of the oil producing nations around the globe.

There are several articles on the internet about Oil and Corruption. Thanks to the western media, we all know about the infamous UN?s Oil for Food Programme in Iraq. There are many more; some far worse yet buried because they might not be in western interest to draw attention to them.

To avoid this pilfering of national wealth; to avoid the human vultures who inhabit this world and hover over wealth and always ready to pounce, to check the corruption of the die hard practitioners of this dishonourable art, we need a party which will commit itself to the setting up of a Ministry for Internal Development or something similar perhaps as an Agency of the Interior Ministry to propel and oversee our national development, with the bulk of the money from our oil?

Current Problems

We as a developing nation, have so many problems so we do not need selfish, myopic and incompetent buffoons, who cannot think beyond their already protruding stomachs when it comes to matters of national interest, at the helm of affairs. We need people who have vision and foresight, are competent yet humble, altruistic and affable, and able to place national interest above personal interest.

We have an appalling everything: no proper social housing; no proper land administration system; no proper transportation system; an inadequate health system; a haphazard and fragmented educational system; sanitation stinks; industrial base is virtually non-existent; we continue to export primary products, unemployment continues to plague the country, corruption is endemic; and we still continue to promote the Pull Him Down culture because we are afflicted by the potent combination of ignorance and arrogance.

Strategic Planning

A detailed strategic development plan, strictly adhered to and judiciously monitored, should be able to transform Ghana from a modest developing country, ringed by slums and plagued by poverty, into one of the most important centres of commerce and industry in the sub-Saharan region.

At the top of our planning and development process should be the Model Plan. This should set the long-term strategy for Ghana's physical development. The Model Plan should be developed and in place by 2012 (when it is envisaged that the oil will start flowing) and fine-tuned over the years, to guide Ghana's infrastructural, transportation and economic growth.

As Ghana is wont to become more affluent, whichever Government comes into power should seek to provide a better quality of life for present and future generations of Ghanaians. This vision should be encapsulated in the Model Plan that any party would present to us in 2008. If it is solid, we could all sign up to it and adopt it regardless of political vision. After all, this will be a developmental strategic vision.

There must be a review of the Model Plan and it should be continual. It must be drawn up with inputs from the other ministries and feedback from the public. The Model Plan will set the broad development strategy for Ghana for the next ten to fifteen years to meet the needs of a projected long-term population of about 30 million, the figure forecast for 2020.

The broad visions of the Model Plan should be translated into detailed Development Guide Plans (DGPs). The DGPs should be aimed at bringing a local perspective to the macro vision of the Model Plan, setting the detailed guidelines on land-use zoning, height and development intensity for different areas in Ghana. Each DGP must address housing needs, as well as community, commercial, industrial, transport, heath, educational, and recreational facilities for the population of each area.

In all, a total of all the constituencies? DGPs will combine to form the overall Master Plan, guiding the detailed development of Ghana. Incorporating ideas and directions generated from the Model Plan review, the new Master Plan reflecting the detailed land-use intentions and overall industrial development.

A consultative and open approach should be adopted in formulating the DGPs. Feedback for DGPs could be gathered through exhibitions and dialogue sessions with both professionals and members of the public. In some cases, DGPs might be prepared by private-sector teams. This enables the planning teams to incorporate as many fresh and constructive ideas as possible

Better Future

I believe that in the absence of any forward plans, we would not be able to make proper use of the oil revenues. Instead, the foreign companies, aided by some very corrupt and selfish Ghanaians (and there are many of them, just look around you) will siphon our wealth away, leave our environment shattered, drive us to conflict, and abandon us in a sorry state.

I think we deserve better. We owe it to our selves to plan for a better future for all our sakes. This is where the main parties should be concentrating their efforts. After all, slavery, racism, apartheid, colonisation; all the evils perpetrated against us had, and still has, collaborators amongst our midst. The lack of leadership in Africa is a contributory factor in the overall lack of respect for Africans in the international arena. Nobody listens when we talk. We have all the natural resources, yet our continent remains the poorest. Thanks to idiots like Mobutu, Banda, Bokassa (I dare not mention the living ones)? the list is endless. Such people wallowed in wealth while their nations crumbled under a massive weight of abject penury.

We do not need their likes in Ghana. The current political comedy show played out in the media daily, of:

a. opposing everything good emerging from the other camp;

b. a million and one men fighting to lead one party;

c. employing armed thugs to eliminate opponents;

d. favouring everything foreign; and

e. open tribal warfare on national issues,

makes me question whether people in public life have the right attitude and mentality and whether they can be trusted to steer the nation to a prosperous future, given all the right ingredients.

What I see are men who want to be in position of power, not for the good of the nation but for what they can get from it. The real benevolent politicians who have the interest of the nation at heart are the ones we need to steer us towards a brighter, better future. Kuffuor and Rawlings before him (whatever their faults) have genuinely set us on a path to peace and prosperity. Let us take the mantle from them and run positively ahead.

Kingsley Owusu Tabi
London 20 July 2007


Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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