The 10% oil revenue kickback for the West – Bad idea
The notion that the West must be developed with 10% of the
revenue from the new oil find is simply outrageous. Whether we
have oil or not, the West must be developed in accordance to
goals and objectives set up by the Ghana government, as applied
across board nationally.
Claim for ALL the oil revenue is a sovereign right that only
Ghana, as a nation, can make. Whoever seeded this idea in the
minds of the Western chiefs, and I suspect him to be a
politician, must be condemned in round terms as a nation
Ghana has that oil because the “United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”, that came into
force in 1994, said so:
“The continental shelf is defined as the natural prolongation of
the land territory to the continental margin’s outer edge, or
200 nautical miles from the coastal state’s baseline, whichever
is greater. State’s continental shelf may exceed 200 nautical
miles until the natural prolongation ends.”
This proclamation was made with regard to STATES, not for a
collection of tribal chiefs who would dare not make the same
claim for lands adjacent to their tribal enclaves. Otherwise by
what measure or right would they assume a share of the spoil
found from under the continental shelf?
Could they define themselves as state or states or lay claim to
ownership of that continental shelf by conquest, purchase, or
ancestral settlement in the deep sea? And if so, when did that
last ancestor move away?
It is even ridiculous to speculate that this group of tribal
chiefs ever had the naval power to enforce sovereignty over ‘200
nautical’ miles of continental shelf, and then conclude that
they gave everything away to the colonial powers until March
1957 when the nation of Ghana was born.
But, there are some amongst us who are encouraging the
compensation idea. And these number among some of our most
A Development Economist claimed that “his support was not based
on the fact that the oil was found in that Region but purely on
development enhancement mechanisms because the people of the
Western Region would be the losers as a result of the
exploration” said a GNA report on November 23, 2010.
In the Development Economist’s reasoning, “in every economic
activity, there would be gainers and there would be major
losers," adding that there was the need therefore to develop”
intervention” mechanism that would ameliorate the losses of
those impacted; in this case the people of the West.
Granted, but there will also be the case of those who have
suffered losses in the past when territories that they can lay
more substantive and tangible claims to fell into use as public
domains. The 10% solution offered should, therefore, be
universal and common to all in application, as would be
justified by the fact that we are a nation.
And as charitable as the above approach is, the obvious is that
it fails to recognize the explosive nature of the whole 10%
To give you an example, assuming we go ahead and give the
Western region the 10% resource they are asking for, when then
are we going to compensate the people of the Lake Akosombo area,
whose lands have been swallowed by the lake, based on the same
mark of 10% (plus interest over 40 years) of the productive
worth of the dam? Never, because the cost will be huge,
colossal and unaffordable.
Or try estimating the past and current revenue due, under the
same 10% scheme, that would be owed to the people of gold
producing areas like Obuasi, whose lands are being dug from
right under them and have had their rivers and other life
support resources poisoned continuously by the gold industry for
some 80 years plus?
The above claimants will have better, substantial and tangible
claims over the use of resources from their tribal enclaves than
those claims for oil from under a continental shelf on which
soil an ancestor never stepped on or was buried.
There will be multiple claimants within Ghana with equal
demands. But don’t forget the people of Accra coming back to ask
for back rent for using the capital to administer the spoils we
are about to pay kickbacks on!
This is not to contest the idea
that the West lags the rest of the country in development and
therefore needs help. It is rather to point out the
unimaginative policy stance that has brought this about and to
prevent this being replaced by another bad policy.
In a venture like oil prospecting, there will be gains for the
people just as there have been with our other resources that we
have commonly shared. But the economic impact, in terms of job
creation, will be mostly felt in the Western region. Companies
will rush to Takoradi and towns in the West, not to Koforidua,
Kumasi, Techieman or Tamale.
No Ghanaian in his right senses
will be against the construction of good roads, hospitals,
schools and the promotion of general upgrade in the quality of
life of the people. But to set aside 10% of the oil
revenue for this purpose and for the West alone is bad and
Not only for the monetary cost. Any obtuse mind can easily calculate, in fiscal terms, the
detrimental effect of this 10% levy on our nation’s economy.
However, the intangible cost – the psychological, the political
and the social cost to the self as a nation – the ticking bombshell the
size of a nuclear weapon, can only be discerned by the true
statesman. So, the cheap politician who would want to arm the
nuclear fuse with a 10% bribe payment to the Western chiefs can
Like in the movies, there would always be claimants who would
say, “Go ahead. Make my day.” And they would vote against any
political party that pays this bribe for ballots.
E. Ablorh-Odjidja, Publisher www.ghanadot.com, November 25,
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