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Opinions Mon, 28 Dec 2015

Open letter to the president

Dear Mr. President,

PLEASE, WITHDRAW THE OBNOXIOUS GHANA HYBRID EXPLORATION AND PRODUCTION SYSTEM BILL!

Mr. President, as you are aware, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Bill 2014 is currently in Parliament to be passed into law to regulate the upstream Oil Industry in the country.

Mr. President, to be honest and very blunt with you, no country in this 21st century with a progressive and informed leader who has the best interest of his country and people in his mind and heart would make such an obnoxious law to regulate her oil and gas resources, knowing very well that oil and gas provide the energy for growth and development of any nation currently in the world. We urge you to withdraw that Bill without delay. It is a death trap to the economic independence and development of Ghana!

Mr. President, what is disheartening is, South Sudan the newest country in Africa has a better and robust Petroleum Exploration and Production (PSA) law than what Ghana, “The Star of Africa,’’ is proposing to pass: an exploitative and economic slavery law being called ‘’Ghana Hybrid System’’. Commentators and writers on the Upstream Petroleum Industry all over the world are worried and surprised at what Ghanaians are doing to themselves in this 21st century, because no country in today’s world is signing such agreements and contracts to exploit their oil and gas resources under any form of concession or license.

Mr. President, even though the Bill emanates from your Cabinet, we do not blame or fault you, but your technical advisers. Mr. President, you are simply being deceived and misled to believe the Bill is good for Ghana. The fiscal regime or provisions that determine or drive the type of contracts the government enters into with the foreign oil companies and how the total revenue is shared contained in the Bill are nothing to brag about, as they are just simply detrimental to Ghanaians who are the owners of the oil and gas resources. It would be a disaster for Ghanaians except a connected few, some of whom are already benefiting beyond their wildest dreams, if the Bill is passed in its present form.

Mr. President, if this Bill is passed into law, we might as well forget about the oil and gas as catalysts for our economic redemption and independence. We would be handing over our oil and gas wealth on gold and silver plates to the foreigners in a worse manner than how our gold, diamonds and others were seized from us by the British Colonial Authority and we ourselves have acquiesced to up to today.

Mr. President, there are UN Charters and Resolutions governing extractive, natural resources currently in the world. Since the Charters and Resolutions became effective and operational, progressive countries in the developing world with deposits of these non-renewable natural resources such as gold, diamonds, oil and gas in particular have taken steps to make sure laws they promulgate to regulate their extractive industries incorporate the spirit and intents of these UN Charters and Resolutions in order to enable them derive the most benefits while making sure the investors also have good and adequate returns on their investments in a win win reciprocal situation. Countries such as Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Niger, Chad, Uganda and South Sudan, to name just a few in Africa, are examples. Ghana, the supposed Star of Africa, is doing the contrary, going in the opposite direction to the above-mentioned countries by handing over her natural riches and wealth into foreign private hands in the name of investment. We live in the midst of plenty as a nation, but we are poor and have become beggars. This need not be so.

Mr. President, your Government and the whole Ghanaian society, from the man on the street to the highest echelon of society, have been deceived and misled to believe what the gate-keepers in the Ministry of Petroleum, GNPC, Petroleum Commission, the World Bank, Oxfam America, Natural Resource Governance Institute and Star Ghana sponsored CSO Platform on Oil and Gas NGOs and other local Think Tanks are foisting on Ghana is the best that can be achieved and that the Bill is a good one in the interest of the mass of Ghanaians, instead of a few who have acquired or hope to acquire vested interests in the sector. We have challenged them repeatedly to debate us in a public forum and prove us wrong but since they knew they could not, they have remained mute. Arrange that public debate for us, sir, and force them to appear with their calculations to show us why their position is the best for Ghanaians!

Mr. President, you and your government can become a hero after Dr. Kwame Nkrumah by harnessing the current configuration of despair, tension and anguish against you into positive support by withdrawing this obnoxious Bill from Parliament and call for a complete overhaul of the Upstream Oil Industry and a review of all the oil agreements and contracts, having become aware of the truth and the situation on the grounds after watching the slides, “Fair-Trade Oil Share-Ghana Production Sharing Agreement (PSA), which can be viewed at this link: http://ghanahero.com/FTOS_GH_Campaign.html. The legal framework supporting Production Sharing Agreement are already in existence in PNDC Laws 64 and 84.

Mr President, on the other hand, if you allow this obnoxious Bill to pass through, you will be remembered as the President who sacrificed ‘’Ghana’s Economic Destiny to Economic Emancipation and Advanced Development’’ because the law will bear your signature and the present generation and posterity would never forgive you and your government.

Mr. President, if you care for the future of Ghana and really mean well for Ghanaians and actually want to change lives, take action now and Ghanaians would be behind and follow you to the battle grounds. I shall be your chief commanding officer of the troops.

Yours in the service of Ghana,

Solomon Kwawukume

Senior Research Officer (GIGS)

Columnist: Kwawukume, Solomon