August 4th 2016 must be marked in the annals of Ghana as a Day of Betrayal and Shame when the majority of Ghana’s Parliamentarians on both sides of the House betrayed their collective conscience, that’s, if they have any at all or whatever is left of it, and surreptitiously without any fan-fare, transparency nor public debate, voted to sell the people of Ghana, whose interests they are charged to protect, down the Volta river in a manner reminiscent of the slave dealing ancestors of many of them, and the mass of Ghanaians docilely allowed themselves to be sold without a whimper. There is therefore a lot of shame to share around and betrayers to point out and we shall be at it for a long while.
First, the MPs rather chose to protect the interests of foreigners, their narrow self-interests and that of a very few Ghanaians in the name of extractive capital masquerading as foreign investment (Leo Sisti & Lyas Hallas. Huffingtonpost 25 July 2016). In doing so, they have consolidated Ghana’s neo-colonial position as an integral part of the New British Empire (Mark Curtis, Huffingtonpost 26 July 2016). 4th August 2016 is thus a day of sadness and mourning because our Parliamentarians have sold the people of Ghana into modern day slavery, perpetual neo-colonial rule, by passing the exploitative, obnoxious and monstrous Petroleum Exploration Bill 2016 which is just awaiting the President’s signature to become effectively the Law replacing PNDC Laws 64 and 84. A law which no progressive and right thinking leaders would pass to regulate the upstream oil and gas industry in their countries in this 21st century; a type of pernicious law none of them can point out a single newly oil exploiting country has adopted. These hollow and clueless MPs should be ashamed of themselves, for being betrayers of our dreams.
The economic freedom and emancipation of Ghanaians from abject poverty and deprivations within a generation have been thrown into the doldrums for decades – nay, generations – to come if this passed Bill is not refused assent by President Mahama or, failing that, overturned by a progressive, radical and right thinking leadership in the near future. The calculable economic loss to Ghana which shall be in tens of billions of dollars, the consequent disillusionment and the currently docile and uninformed populace’s reaction when the promises the oil boon held are not realised while a very few flaunt their newly found wealth are not things we can predict with exactitude but they will be anything other than positive and peaceful.
Further, be it known to all and sundry, especially the Ghana Catholic Bishop Conference, Christian Council of Ghana, Ghana Pentecostal Charismatic Churches, the Islamic Religious Bodies, National House of Chiefs, National Peace Council, TUC and other Labour Organisations, etc., all bodies which have been briefed extensively by the GIGS and FTOS-PSA GH Campaign, that the new Petroleum Exploration and Production Law poses greater and more dangerous risks to the security and stability of our dear Ghana than the Gitmo Bar 2 detainees to whom they devoted so much time to commenting on publicly.
Most of the above organisations, if not all, had ample time to make loud comments about the possible security risks the presence of the 2 detainees were likely to cause, but failed to see and comprehend the real security and stability risks staring in their faces inherent in the E&P Bill if passed into law to regulate the Upstream Oil Industry in Ghana. The facts were handed over to them through letters, face to face explanations and workshop documents which explained the bad and heinous effects of the Bill. They all kept mute and never said a word. Not a single comment emanated from any of them to engender a public debate. They also betrayed the mass of Ghanaians without a voice. A big shame to them!
Loud mouth critics of government on oil revenue management, the Public Interest Accountability Committee (PIAC), Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), IMANI Ghana, CSOs on Oil and Gas (the last actually founded and funded by the Oil Lobby), GNPC, the Petroleum Commission and others who should know better became accomplices and kept mute, in spite of even public challenges to them, Instead, because of parochial self-interests and/or the free Oil Lobby money in millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars, pounds and cedis being doled out to buy their silence and consciences, they became lobbyists and spokesmen for the FOCs bent on deceiving their fellow Ghanaians. They knew in their hearts of hearts that they are traitors to the mass of Ghanaians, only buttering their own bread and CANNOT publicly defend their lies and disinformation on behalf of the Oil Cartel funding them. Or, what they are enjoying already from the oil bonanza, throwing money about like “confetti,” as even Mr T.K “Hybrid” Hammond said in an outburst against the spending spree of the GNPC. We heap a huge shame on these betrayers of the dreams of Ghanaians. They are nothing but traitors and modern day slave raiders not deserving of our respect..
Long before Tullow’s Corporate Responsibility hundreds of millions of dollars Slush Fund came on stream, Star Ghana became a father Christmas the like of which Ghana had never seen, doling out funds left and right to even those who did not ask for it without anyone asking where the money was coming from. Manna from heaven and may they be blessed was the sentiment and responses of all the so-called elite in Ghana while the Ghana Chapter of Transparency International and Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) slumber on their watch in spite of all the releases from GIGS and the FTOS-PSA Gh Campaign. The KOSMOS boss and largest share owner, according to the documentary Big Men, was removed mainly because he was too indiscreet in spraying dollars around, a bit of which we watched on the video.
When Star Ghana declared that it had run out of funds (since then obviously replenished, judging by their recent bout of largesse), the British government, our neo-colonial power which was hoping to reap in billions from our oil boon into its economy, stepped in with the £29m Trojan Horse GOGIG money. This “aid” is nothing more than influence buying money for the key state gate-keeping institutions and ACEP, the key mouth-piece of the Oil Lobby in a manner key US Think Tanks have been observed to have become accomplices of big business (Eric Lipton and Brooke Williams, Aug. 7, 2016).
The control of interests groups and governments by vested interests in even advanced democracies like that of the USA has now been recognised as pernicious. Prestigious Think Tanks have become nothing more than ideological mouthpieces for powerful industries and businesses. This blurred line between Thinks Tanks and lobbyists in America was thus the theme of this recent article. It was noted:
“Think tanks, which position themselves as “universities without students,” have power in government policy debates because they are seen as researchers independent of moneyed interests. But in the chase for funds, think tanks are pushing agendas important to corporate donors, at times blurring the line between researchers and lobbyists. And they are doing so while reaping the benefits of their tax-exempt status, sometimes without disclosing their connections to corporate interests.”
We quote further:
‘Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, explains how some think tanks engage in “thinly disguised lobbying” to influence lawmakers.
“This is about giant corporations who figured out that by spending, hey, a few tens of millions of dollars, if they can influence outcomes here in Washington, they can make billions of dollars,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, a frequent critic of undisclosed Wall Street donations to think tanks.’
Before our very eyes, at least the few of us with our eyes opened, we see this happening in Ghana, with ACEP for instance becoming the mouthpiece for the Oil Cartel, thanks to the six figure thousands of pounds and millions of cedis it is receiving from the DFID, for instance. As a matter of fact, practically all the so-called think tanks on oil and gas are being liberally funded by oil interests, both the FOCs and the British government as part of its New Empire in Africa drive. We must express our disgust at this modern day robbery of the wealth of Ghanaians with the active help of fellow Ghanaians.
As for the Ghanaian print media, the state owned media in particular, a thunderous shame is due them. They have sold their consciences to Marmon and declared a black out on this serious national issue. Even before the first oil was lifted, the Oil Cartel started rounding up journalists for special treatment – scholarships to study oil and gas abroad! 64 benefited straight away. At this very moment, ACEP is conducting a so-called 6 months crash course purportedly equivalent to a Masters degree for a selected group of journalists. With the rumpus about unaccredited entities and diploma mills dishing out degrees and PhDs, I hope they are paying attention.
The opposition political parties? A big TWEAH! to them as expression of my own personal derision at their total cluelessness and indifference in spite of efforts to engage them. As for the NPP, which started it all, their ranking member in the Energy Committee, Mr T.K. “Hybrid” Hammond, an ebullient supporter of this obnoxious Bill, was very clear in what the NPP would do if the NDC “made a mistake” and adopted a PSA system, a system which even Tullow on its website falsely claimed Ghana used in the Jubilee Fields agreement – they’d reverse it! We don’t expect anything better from them, a party that relishes itself as allies of foreign capital. It is the splintered pro-Nkrumahist parties that most shame must go to for their total cluelessness and silence while all this chance to lead the masses to economically liberate Ghana from the clutches of neo-colonialism under the auspices of the Terrible Twins and Donors slip by. Rather, they became Lords of Trivialities, braying at puny items in comparison such as a Burkinabe contractor donating a vehicle to President Mahama, the Montie 3, etc. I had noted long ago that they have progressed from being delusional to delusional nincompoops. They have surely become an embarrassment to the memory of the great man, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and source of shame to many of us who identify with the Nkrumahist agenda.
In subsequent series, we shall focus on the inaction or action of civil society, the so-called elite, the book and research allowances coveting academics, tertiary students unions, chiefs, etc. in this unfolding saga. There is enough shame to share around and they must get their due share. We are in for the long haul. Until the seeds of emancipation from neo-colonial rule sprout, we shall not relent.
Andy C.Y. Kwawukume
FTOS-PSA Gh Campaign, London
Leo Sisti & Lyas Hallas
Eric Lipton and Brooke Williams
Researchers or Corporate Allies? Think Tanks Blur the Line, Aug. 7, 2016