There was a time when the meters gauging the quantities of crude oil being lifted from our continental shelf by the various oil companies engaged in oil mining in the country were deliberately disabled, in order to enable the leaders of the erstwhile Mills-Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) misappropriate some of the royalties received from our Black Gold devoid of accountability. This may sound awfully unpatriotic to the dear reader but, I must, all the same, be frank in telling you that but for the resounding electoral mandate of President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the recent historic implementation of his fee-free Senior High School policy agenda, it would not have mattered one way or another, if the ruling by the Special Chamber of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) had gone against Ghana.
To be certain, I was nothing short of annoyed to hear Mr. Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, the former Energy and Petroleum Minister, exult over what the Mahama go-fer termed as the boost that the latest ITLOS ruling in favor of Ghana’s oil exploration near its border with La Côte d’Ivoire will bring to bear on the nation’s economic fortunes (See “ITLOS Judgment to Boost Ghana’s Economic Fortunes” Citifmonline.com / Modernghana.com 9/23/17). I really don’t know about any boost in our economic fortunes, being that under the watch of the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress, the already existing royalties received from the foreign oil-mining companies by the Government-of-the-Day had done absolutely nothing to significantly improve the quality-of-life of the ordinary Ghanaian citizen.
For instance, instead of experiencing a remarkable upswing in the management of the New Patriotic Party-minted National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), the latter actually saw the bulk of its operating fiscal resources vanish into the wallets and pockets of its government-appointed administrators, including Mr. Sylvester Mensah, the CEO of the so-called National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), whose passports were confiscated and their bank accounts frozen. Today Mr. Mensah is gunning for the presidential nomination of the NDC for Election 2020. Neither did revenue accruing from oil mining off the shores of the country’s Western Region go towards the construction of then-President Mahama’s electioneering-campaign promise of adding 200 more buildings to the existing stock of Senior High Schools’ physical plants around the country.
At last count, in the lead-up to Election 2016, scarcely 20-percent of this promise had been fulfilled. Indeed, some think-tankers have even put the figure at far below 10-percent. Then also, drawing extra revenue from oil royalties did not prevent the Mahama regime from cutting off age-old stipends for teacher- and nurse-trainees around the country. It would take the Akufo-Addo Administration to restore these crucial incentives to our teachers- and nurses-in-the making. And the cynical likes of Messrs. Mahama, Asiedu-Nketia, Adams, Portuphy, D’Souza and Anyidoho would have Ghanaians believe that they are, somehow, the revolutionary Social Democrats who would take them to the Biblical Promised Land of Canaan. And, indeed, Mr. Buah may be right in observing that the latest ITLOS verdict “puts Ghana’s upstream petroleum sector on a path to greater heights.”
But, of course, those of us who studiously followed the political culture of the National Democratic Congress from 2009 to January 2016, have absolutely no illusions about the fact that the new “path of greater heights” being spoken about by the former Petroleum Minister does not include the average hardworking Ghanaian citizen. And this, of course, includes teachers and nurses.
Under the watch of President Akufo-Addo, however, it is very certain that every pesewa accruing from our oil revenue will be duly and promptly invested in such major quality-of-life improvement policy initiatives as the fee-free Senior High School system, the Kufuor-minted National Health Insurance Scheme as well as the School Feeding Program, among a legion of other social intervention policy initiatives and programs.
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