The discovery and production Ghana’s oil and gas deposits like many other parts of the world has surely affected some persons or communities closer to the resource.
And in order for the larger national interest, such persons or communities have had to make sacrifices willingly or by coercion.
However, problems arise from these situations due to how those involved in taking the resource, mitigate the effects or compensate the affected persons or communities.
Sadly in our part of the world, such situations are handled differently and sometimes haphazardly; or if you like “the African way”.
In Ghana’s Western Region, the two actors [the state and private producers], have literally turned a blind eye to those affected by the activities leading up to the progress and successes Ghana has recorded after exploration, discovery, and production.
One would have thought that the stakeholders would have taken valuable lessons at least from the Nigerian experience; that led to the emergence of militants in the Niger Delta.
Below is a direct transcription of comments made by the Paramount Chief of the Western Nzema Traditional Area in the Western Region, Awulae Annor Adjaye, at a recent African Oil and Gas Summit on September 27, 2016.
Present at the summit were ministers of state, parliamentarians, Members of the diplomatic corps, International oil and gas experts, Country Rep of the IMF, Civil society organizations among others.
Awulae Annor Adjaye was on a panel discussing the topic “Translating Ghana’s oil wealth to broad-based development: Implications for government, businesses, and affected communities”.
He was on this platform with Kwame Jantuah, Chairman Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Mathew Armah, Team Leader, Western Region Coastal Foundation, whiles Mrs. Nana Ama Yirrah, Executive Director of COLANDEF facilitated the discussions.
When Awulae Annor Adjaye grabbed the microphone, he said, “I am going to be controversial here”. The room suddenly was quiet, and the over two hundred participants were mute.
Awulae cleared his throat and started and I quote… “I am a traditional leader along the coast of the western region and also in two organizations that call themselves NGOs or CSOs. I see a lot happening. I want to address how we have performed with our oil revenues and the impact of the oil find on communities. But I will disaggregate it into the livelihood of the people. As far as I am concerned, we [Ghanaians] have performed negatively with the management of our oil monies.
“If you take the September 21st  Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times, you will read that the $3.208b [oil Revenues realized in a period of 5 years since first commercial oil in 2010] have been spent. Yes! It has all been spent! It is written there in these dailies, and they have shown the areas where the expenditure has taken place.
Get a copy and crosscheck. But, down in my village there, I’m talking about Domunli enclave or Bonyere area, where they have cut down people’s coconut trees. If you go to ask the people, they will show you a receipt indicating that they cut down maybe 20 coconut trees valued at XYZ cedis. But as at this time that they [government] have spent the $3 point something billion, they have not paid the monies as compensations. Yeah! They have not paid it. Is this a positive impact on somebody’s livelihood?”
“Last Saturday, I met all my chiefs and the queen mothers, and I can assure you that those who have squandered these monies without paying the compensation due those whose coconut trees were taken down will hear from us soon from the streets, and we will mention their names, because you cannot just dissipate this quantum of money and refuse to pay for the destruction you have done there.
And it is not only in these enclaves, you go to Atuabo where the Gas processing Plant is, you will hear similar stories before we talk about the effects of their activities on fishing in the sea.” “All that I am telling you is that, in reality, people’s livelihoods have been negatively impacted and they have not been addressed.
Talking about the environment, if there are coconuts trees around, and you mow them down, and practically do not start work, what have you done? Areas you take for your activities have been cleared for years without work, without the right compensations, how do you expect communities in these areas to say that the oil find has brought relief to them?
To some people, this is their only source of livelihood. The coconut is their only livelihood. They are not getting their compensations and they don’t know when they are going to be paid.”
“Think of this too, if they have to wait for another year again, the value of the money that will be paid them will dwindle. What good have we done to these poor people when this happen? I want all of you to know that, in many communities in Africa, some of these things are happening and we seem to be quiet over them because some of us as chiefs are being used as shields. We have to protect and talk to people not to do demonstrations, we have to talk to them so they do not destroy pipeline as it is happening in Nigeria etc. So if you use me as a shield and then my people destroy me, you feel you have finished. You have not done anything!”
“As a leader, I will not sit down for this to happen. I will rather rally the people behind me, and fight for them to achieve what they have to get, and this is what is going to happen very soon in our part of the Western Region,” he warned.
“When the chiefs in the Western Region were asking for 10 percent of the oil royalties, many of you said we were going to use the monies to buy big cloths and umbrellas, ride in big palanquins or we were even joking. As if we didn’t know what we were about. Today, go and see how long it will take you to commute just between Takoradi and Sekondi.
Go and see how difficult it is to get accommodation in Takoradi. Go and see the kind of pressure on the roads that were not built for these big trucks. Are you thinking about the young ones who are good academically but are not getting scholarship to school? Are you thinking about these problems? It is obvious they do not care.
Government must come to address these problems”! End of quote!!! So expect the demonstration sometime soon. The Chiefs and the queen mothers may be hitting the streets to demand the compensation for coconut trees that oil and gas companies destroyed. God, save us!!! Save us from the hands of Nigeria’s Niger Delta, for we are just not ready for this. I hope someone is reading! Well, expect another interesting read from Obrempong’s Oil Diary.