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Opinions of Sunday, 9 January 2011

Columnist: Abdul-Yekin, Kofi Ali

The AU Election- Ghana Fuel Price Increase (Part 1)

“Power is something very simple that can make anything possible. But you must understand that you have it and make it work for you!”

Very few people will not find it odd in seeing any kind of relationship between the obnoxious annual ritual increases in the price of fuel in Ghana and our call for the Ghanaian to be actively participating in the election of who becomes the Chairman of the AUC (Africa Union Commission). How many fellow Ghanaians will believe that even the president of Ghana only wake up in the morning to be told that there is an increase in the price of fuel, like any of us? How many of us could believe that the determinant of the price of this essential product in our life is far beyond the authority of our poor president? How many of us could believe that the last thing our president will want is an increase in the price of fuel with general election approaching? How many of us could remember the ex-president J.A. Kufour shuttling from house to house with gallons of kerosene on his head for Ghanaians to give him a chance for another four years mandate? If we can understand the voting power of the Ghanaian, then we could be able to understand what the Ghanaian can turn any person into when he/she cast this vote to elect who becomes the next Chairman of the AUC.
The Ghanaian public woke up on Monday morning to be informed by one chief Alex Mould of National Petroleum Authority that “Diesel will rise to 1.53 ($1.03) cedis per litre while petrol will also rise 30 percent to 1.52 cedis per litre”.
I have always asked myself the simple basic question of; who in Ghana want these increases in the price of fuel? I am absolutely sure that majority of the population of Ghana strongly share the view of having the fuel prices in Ghana frozen for the next 20 years. In deed if there should be any election in Ghana today on the vote to put a freeze on the price of fuel, 95% of Ghanaians will vote in favour of it. But there is a difference for voting for anyone just because he/she is a Ghanaian and voting for the president of the AU authority by Ghanaians who can have the necessary power to actually make a practical difference in the price of fuel to the Ghanaian.

The reality is that despite the assurance of 95% of the population turning out to support the freeze on the fuel price, what happens in our day to day lives is the contrary. Thus the wishes of the majority of Ghanaians are over ridden by that of just 5% of Ghanaians, in collaboration with the “International Community”. One could even say that the whole of the people of Ghana, including H.E. our President John Evans Atta Mills, are living in a condition against our common wish. Better put, one can say that since the production and consumption of the petroleum in Ghana is about the control of the factors of production in Ghana, such control is either not in the hand of the majority of Ghanaians or such control is not in the hands of Ghanaians at all.

I will want to believe that anyone monitoring the efforts of our heads of states since the 70’s to date will not be in doubt of their helplessness towards such increases in the price of this product. This has even been employed as a tool by the parties struggling to win over government, to get the sympathy of the public to their side, only to end up like “fools in government” (FIG) that are incapable of doing nothing about the myth of the fuel hike. In fact, 95% of voters in Ghana have the fuel price as one of their main reason for the candidate or party they cast their votes for. Equally, military coups D’etat have been based on the burden of the price of fuel to take over government, only to have the same khaki boys having to be accused for being those responsible for the increases themselves, by those itching to get themselves into power.
In Ghana and all other AU member state there seem to exist a tradition that the price of fuel must be increased once or twice annually, particularly at the end of every year. This position was backed up by Mr. Mould in “fuel prices in Ghana had remained unchanged since October 2009” and that it should increase simply because, during this time “the price of oil had risen some 23 percent in the world market” while “The prices of kerosene and premix fuel remain unchanged” in Ghana.

In deed this position could have even had some credibility prior to the impression given to Ghanaians that our nation is now an oil producer. In other words, we do not have to depend on imported oil from other countries as the product is now going to be just like any other local product in Ghana. Is Mr. Mould implying that Ghanaians are buying “gari”,”yam” or “kukunte” at international price because the world price for the commodities has increased? Yes, the price of a car or a farm tractor that we do not produce in Ghana can justifiably be expensively associated with international price as they are imported into Ghana because we Ghanaians do not produce them. Is Mr. Mould again telling Ghanaians that the oil that is being exploited on our land is not actually being produced by us but by the international owners? Is he not saying that in Ghana, there are what Ghanaians can own as a sovereign people and what Ghanaians can not own on their own land, as a sovereign people? Is he not saying that our sovereignty as a state is a conditional one in which it is only applicable to certain things and not to certain other things?

Prior to the discovery and production of crude oil in Ghana, Ghanaians were under the elusion that the price of all crude oil related products could justifiably be high and the masses must just continue to bear the burden, as the product in not in Ghana and does not belong to them. A lot of Ghanaians have been made to believe that if a commodity is being brought in from other African countries that have chosen to sell them to Ghanaians at the same price as selling to the Chinese, even within the same AU territories, there is nothing we can do about it. We were made to believe that even bringing in ordinary WATER from Togo, is an international importation, that Ghanaians must be prepare to pay for dearly in dollar. Like the meek believers in God, we should be paying for such dare prices regardless to the spirit of the African brotherhood. The impression to us has been that the higher prices of commodities from other African countries were by our wicked brothers and sisters from beyond our colonially imposed boarders but little did any one of us know that the devil that is playing us all is the monster that put the boarders there in the first place.

With the news that Ghana has oil and it is going to be soon under production, the average Ghanaian longed to see the back of his misery. Alas, the oil is here but, NOW YOUR SUFFERING CONTINUES (NYSC)! The message clearly is, regardless to where ever the oil is whether; in Ghana or in Congo, the Ghanaian shall pay until he/she falls down dead!! (To be continued in part 2)

Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin
Chair/Coordinator
Action Group of Africa (AGA)
(yekali2002@yahoo.com)