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Opinions of Saturday, 18 December 2010

Columnist: Abugri, George Sydney

Spooks, diplomatic leaks and crude

By George Sydney Abugri

Our mighty republic formally joined the world’s privileged list of oil producers on Wednesday. Vice-president John Mahatma made an emergency landing somewhere in the Libyan Desert. Last but not the least; I encountered a spook at the most unlikely of places last Sunday.

We begin with the oil naturally? No sir, we begin with the mundane matter of the spook just to match him in mischief and please read my lips with a pair of giant magnifying glasses lest you lose me.

He was clean-shaven down to the scalp and his was the strangest skull I have ever seen on a human neck, shaped as it was, like a snub-nosed bullet with multiple dents and bony protrusions.

Look, it is not in my nature to make unkind remarks about anyone, cross my heart. I am merely trying to give you a description of the chap, see?

I am not sure I have the shapeliest of skulls myself, so you won’t find me shaven to the bone, lest I frighten and send little children running and screeching all over the place.

The spook had apparently been told where to locate me and he was ready and waiting. He had planted himself where I had no alternative but to be in close physical proximity with him, but he positioned himself in such a way that I could not see his face:

For over an hour, he kept his face glued to a point in the very near distance, turning from time to time to look in various directions except mine, yet his skull was only millimeters away from mine.

Poor spook. I found my own way of stamping a clear photo of his amazing skull in my mind and if a clone of him were made, why I would be able to make out the original creature in Khaki trousers, plaid shirt and sneakers from the clone.

His assignment was a simple one, to get in very close proximity with me, deliver his master’s message via body language, a language understood by only those able to understand.

Long before the event ended, and apparently convinced that his masters’ message had been delivered, he literally fled the place, my eyes followed him as he navigated his way around a fleet of parked cars, his clean shaven skull glistening in the morning light.

Boy, did the guy wear a mean mask in the place of a human face! Take note that not all spook-like creatures you come in contact with are from the Colonel’s Blue Gate near the national sports stadium.

Some are freelances working for politicians, crooked businesses, the underworld and all manner of people with loads of money and clandestine interests to protect.

See? Incredibly very strange things do happen to and around those of us in this very controversial trade called journalism. Imagine such a curious episode unfolding openly in an assembly of more than 1,000 people without anyone knowing what was going on, except two people: Me and the spook. Sorry for the bad grammar. I mean the spook and I.

Don’t mind them. Strange occurrences which have been kept away from the public for so long will soon be exposed: Assange’s Wiki Leaks started streaming into Ghana via internet websites this week, just in time to raise the partisan political atmosphere from boiling to steaming and cause all manner of problems for all manner of people as we near another election.

The alleged cables from the United States Embassy in Accra to Washington quoting US and British diplomats, paint a picture of a thriving drug-based underworld which has operated for years drawing its power from highly placed individuals.

In the wake of diplomatic cable leaks, it was alleged during the week that officials of our Narcotic Control Board and other government officials had been compromised and that drug smuggling politicians, pastors and their spouses, bankers and other prominent people had been using the VIP lounge at KIA to avoid detection.

The cables allege that anti-drug police officials have been manipulating scanning equipment at the airport and providing drug smugglers with information to enable them avoid detection.

The leaked cables even quote president Mills as confiding in diplomats that he was worried about the possibility that some drug smuggling members of his own entourages on trips abroad may be using his presidential suite at the airport to avoid detection.

Our new found oil? On the market, it is going to be called Jubilee Sweet Light Crude. By the touch of a button at the historic commissioning ceremony this week, President Mills symbolically turned on the oil taps to signal the commencement of commercial production.

The president invited us to acknowledge the contributions of former president Rawlings whose administration Mills said, laid the infrastructure and developed the needed policy framework for the development of the oil industry and former president Kufuor whose administration supported industrial activities leading to the discovery of the offshore oil wells.

With President Mills and the Vice-President each bearing the first name John and the nation’s two previous presidents who were present at the ceremony each bearing that very same first name, the divine lesson was hopefully not lost: Names of persons and political parties do not matter as much as visionary leadership.

One political administration comes and does its bit in laying the building blocks for national progress and gives way to another administration to continue with the building. Is that not the way to progress?

Some want political power so badly for its own sake, that they are totally blinded to the need for a cut-off point between extreme political partisanship and the collective non-partisan effort needed to fire real development.

Soon the challenges will surface: Where oil flows a lot of money does too and with them corruption. Our initial daily production will be 55, 000 barrels compared with Nigeria’s daily production of two billion barrels.

Yet many Nigerians are living in poverty. Then there are the deadly Niger Delta scenarios playing on non-stop. The security of our great republic is certainly going to get dicey, what with multitudes of all manner of characters from all compass points of the globe with worse than shady motives pouring in.

Discontent among the people of the Western Region has already begun with Parliament’s rejection of demands by traditional rulers in the region that 10 percent of oil revenues be allocated to the region for the development of infrastructure.

I met I a cabbie who has completely lost confidence in our public accounting system. “Dey go chop the money a-l-l”, he says of the coming oil revenues and those who will manage it.

I tried to restore whatever faith he had ever had in public accounting in this country by explaining that we would have a Petroleum Revenues Management Law to limit the risk of our oil cash getting spirited away. He stuck to his guns with his argument: Massa, I say dey go chop a-l-l the money! Will Professor Mills prove the fellow wrong? Time will answer!

Email: georgeabu@hotmail.com Website: www.sydneyabugri.com