I have been running across screaming headlines regarding the Aker-AGM petroleum deal but have not had the chance, as yet, to deeply delve into the same, largely because I have been swamped by a multiplicity of other issues, both political and nonpolitical, that have required prompt addressing. All I presently know about the subject of the present news article, is the fact that it has to do with the striking of a new oil field and the imperative need for the Government of Ghana to cut a new deal that stands to be of greater benefit to the Ghanaian people than the overwhelming majority of petroleum-related deals struck with multinational companies in the recent past. In this particular instance, we are told that a deal was recently struck in which the “carried interest” (whatever the latter terminology means) of the state in the agreement was increased from 3-percent to 10-percent (See “No Consensus on Aker/AGM Petroleum Deal – Mutawakilu” Modernghana.com 5/4/19).
What is clear from the afore-referenced news story is the fact that an earlier agreement appears to have been signed between some two parties, namely, Aker and AGM, which entities, according to the operatives of the IMANI think-tank, are composed of the same entrepreneurs, for the most part (See “AGM Deal: Stop Squandering Ghana’s Assets – IMANI to Amewu” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 5/5/19). Well, what I see here that makes Energy Minister John Peter Amewu the savvier for the present agreement is that this may very well be the very first time, since Ghana struck oil in commercial quantities, that the key players in an oil prospecting and extraction/mining agreement have been known to be predominantly Ghanaian. Needless to say, NDC-leaning think-tankers, at least in recent years, such as IMANI-Africa, are not very well-known to warmly cotton up to Ghanaian entrepreneurs, particularly those with Akan-sounding names or ethnicity.
You see, I would rather have bona fide Ghanaian entrepreneurs make it and make it big in the country’s oil industry than have foreign nationals unduly take advantage of our human and natural resources, the way that we have scandalously witnessed former President John Dramani Mahama and his custom-tailored former Power Minister, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, do in the globally infamous and horrific AMERI-Deal. And before the latter, the ethnocentrically selected former Petroleum Minister, Mr. Armah Kofi Buah. The hope here is that these “filthily” enriched bona fide Ghanaian citizen entrepreneurs will ultimately plough a humongous chunk of their oil-wealth into the massive development of the country for the salutary benefit of all Ghanaian citizens, the way European, American and Asian entrepreneurs have done to their respective economies in their parts of the world.
The Energy Minister ought to also be commended for not inexpediently and obtusely buying into the cynical but patently unwise policy decision of recklessly gambling with the highly limited resources of the Ghanaian taxpayer’s money in wild-cat oil prospecting, the way that the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is known to have done with some $400 million (USD), or so, between 2013 and 2016. This is absolutely unsurprising because the preceding is what the double-salary drawing key operatives of the present main opposition National Democratic Congress have always been known to do best, whenever they have wielded the reins of governance, either democratically or by the barrel of the gun. Whether the recent parliamentary vote to approve of the Aker-AGM deal notched a consensus or not, with the collaborative symphonic agreement of the National Democratic Congress, is decidedly beside the point. What matters is that the people’s business was smoothly conducted without the perennially sophomoric boycotting tantrums of the parliamentary minority.
What the critical thinker, even a non-economist like yours truly, comes away with from a casual reading of the news reports on this subject, is the unmistakably envy-laced adamant stance of the IMANI think-tankers. By all means, let absolutely no one begrudge the Cudjoe Gang of the NDC’s rearguard of its inalienable entitlement to their own opinions. But, of course, the rest of us need to boldly, fiercely and fearlessly stand up to their scandalous shenanigans that are far more intelligent to morbidly starry-eyed “revolutionaries” than neoliberal pragmatists and progressive visionaries.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York