By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Jan. 30, 2015
I thought the members of the Western Regional House of Chiefs had long gotten over their madness and greed which motivated them to demand 10-percent of total oil revenue accruing to our national oil industry and the government (See "W/R Chiefs Fume At Gov't Over Oil Proceeds" Starrfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 1/30/15). As I pointed out in a previous column, among other critics and commentators on the issue, the off-shore oil extraction is internationally recognized to be in the territorial waters of Ghana, as a country or a Republic, and not the territorial waters of the chiefs and people of the Western Region.
In other words, Ghana's oil is not the exclusive property of any one region of the country. The irony, though, is that were the government to grant them their patently irrational request, you would see the same Western Regional Chiefs fighting over whose land lies closest to the offshore mining rigs. And here, also, ought to be promptly recalled that it was the late President John Evans Atta-Mills who first put this madness into the heads of the Western Regional Chiefs when, during the heat of his 2008 presidential campaign, the former Legon tax-law professor promised to earmark a signigicant portion of the country's oil revenue for the exclusive development of the Western Region. And these hat-in-hand chiefs actually believed the then-Candidate Mills because, although he hailed from the Central Region, the former Rawlings second-bananas had been born in the Western Region's township of Tarkwa, thus my nicknaming him "Uncle Tarkwa-Atta."
Recently, I have discovered another pleasantly surprising fact of history that actually makes my good, old Uncle Tarkwa-Atta my real consanguineal uncle or blood relative. And this, of course, has to do with the fact that historically the people of the Ekumfi area in the Central Region immigrated from Takyiman/Techiman, in present-day Brong-Ahafo Region. With two of my familial lines traceable to the Nkoranza royal family, our unmistakable nexus is patently beyond dispute. Well, by the trend of their own logic, would these Western Regional Chiefs consent to the imperative need for 10-percent of the seats on both the faculties and student bodies of Ghana's three major public universities being reserved for citizens and residents of Akyem-Abuakwa, or even the three Akyems, because it was Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah who significantly spearheaded the founding and/or establishment of the University of Ghana, against the grain of official British colonial education policy, out of which the two other major public academies in Kumasi and Cape Coast were created?
Needless to say, it was out of Legon's departments of education and science and technology that President Kwame Nkrumah created the universities of Cape Coast and the recently renamed Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). But wait, there is more! Would the Western Regional House of Chiefs consent to 10-percent of its budgetary allocation being ceded to the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, since it was Nana Sir Ofori-Atta I whose singular yeomanly efforts led to the creation of what has become known as the National House of Chiefs, formerly called the Joint-Provincial Council of the Gold Coast? And ought the Eastern Region be ceded or conceded 10-percent of our national cocoa revenue, annually and retroactive to the 1890s, because the Eastern Region, including present-day Greater-Accra Region, originated Ghana's cocoa industry and thus created the country's economy as a modern state?
Indeed, the putatively greatest son of the Western Region, President Kwame Nkrumah, was widely known to sneeringly argue against the economic decentralization of transitional and postcolonial Ghana as a federation, primarily because unlike his arch-rivals and inveterate political opponents, Nkrumah believed in the equitable distribution of the country's monetary and economic resources. Still, I sincerely don't blame these "greedy-bastard" chiefs; rather I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Messrs. Atta-Mills and Mahama who so facilely kowtowed to the scandalously gratuitous demands of these Western Regional Chiefs, by nepotistically naming one of their indigenes, Mr. Kofi Buah (or some such nominal entity), to the post of Petroleum and Energy Minister.