Dr. K. Bawuah Edusei: A Genuine Ghanaian Patriot

Prospecting for oil aka Wildcatting is the financial epitome of risk! The terrain across the world is littered with the skeletons and carcasses of

those who dared the gods by investing their live savings in the gamble for oil. It is a macabre analogy, but hitting it big has the same magnitude of newsworthiness as a plane crash. And as they say, there is no news on an aircraft that arrives without mishap; just like those that lose money on oil ventures. For every Nelson Rockefeller or Paul Getty, there could have been a thousand John Does; but the world is not interested in John Doe.

When there was zero oil, we didn’t care about any percentages of KOSMOS, ANARDARKO or EO; because 10, 20, 99% of zero is still zero. Let us dispassionately discuss the following points:

  • Until KOSMOS hit oil how long was it that there was any talk about oil?
  • But for KOSMOS how long would it have taken to hit oil?
  • Are we indebted to KOSMOS and if so how much?
  • Did KOSMOS come to Ghana on its own volition?
  • If somebody DID bring KOSMOS into the “oil” mix is that person worth anything at all, and if so how much?

Righteous Indignation

CEO’s in the US do get paid a lot of money, and congress, as champions of the ordinary man, has tried since time immemorial to cap the so-called obscene remunerations of these CEO’s. But if a business makes $1 a year, and a new CEO comes in and is able to increase it to $2, how much is he worth? How much does the company lose if the new CEO is paid half a dollar? Sure it is obscene but which people would rather they made a politically correct $1 than pay someone $0.5 if he guarantees a new profit of $2? It is this thought process that has sent US companies to the top of the rankings in terms of revenue, profitability and innovation. Even in these “Credit crunch” times, EXXON Mobil paid its CEO a gazillion dollars. If Apple were to pay a commensurate salary to Steve Jobs how much should it be? How much is George Schmidt the CEO of GOOGLE being “paid”? Fact is, we must be prepared to reward those who produce, if our calculations show that we still come up on top.

We envy the rich, plain and simple. Even the Bible said it in Mathew 19:24 “Again I tell you; it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”. This hasn’t stopped too many pastors from riding their Mercedes to church every Sunday.

It sounds incongruous that a Ghanaian non-government entity is being mentioned in the same breath as that kind of money, and we are not used to that. Usually it is foreigners, especially of the white variety, whose names are associated with the big “ones”. If a foreign company had entered into an agreement with KOSMOS for that kind of money would we have batted an eyelid?

KOSMOS hit a hole in one. Ross Perot, as he succinctly said “sold umbrellas when it was about to rain” and became a billionaire. In spite of satellite mapping and other sophisticated tools, many of the identified wells will turn out dry. Yes, luck counts.

The EO people could have invested their life savings. But the fact still remains that if they didn’t get lucky, that money would be gone, and this article and other conversations would be moot. But because of the huge amount involved here, we tend to focus on their little %, rather than our big %.

Corruption is bad, and we should pursue its minimization and eventually eradication with as much vigor as can be mustered. But in the pursuit of this ideal of a corruption-free society, caution should be exercised else we risk “throwing the baby away with the bathwater”. Not rewarding risk but ogling success because of the sheer enormity of the returns is wrong, plain and simple.

Dr. Edusei, the “E” in the EO did not suddenly appear on the political horizon. Fact is, this accomplished “son of the soil” has been contributing his widow’s mite for as long as he has been capable. Every civic-minded individual at some point will find himself at one side of the political divide. He is a NPP, but that did not stop him from facilitating the visit of a high-powered delegation of doctors during the last NDC administration.

He led a Howard University Medical Team to Ghana in 1994. They delivered medical care to remote villages around the Volta Lake in Volta Region then to Budumburam the Liberian refugee camp, Nima, and Akwatia Zongo, etc. All these were for free, and were paid out of their pockets. The team was advised not to go to the North by security agents because of the Nanumba/Kokumba war. Ex-President Rawlings was so impressed he invited the delegation and had an elaborate reception for them.
As a follow up, Dr. Edusei personally came back to Ghana to tour the north and provide free medical care at his own expense. The obvious purpose was to help deprived people who lack access to medical care. If this is not patriotism then what is?

He never solicited the US ambassadorship; and neither was it about the money, for as everyone knows, working for the government of Ghana for most diasporeans, results in an appreciable cut in salary. He took the job because he knew he could deliver, period.

But exactly how did he become the ambassador to the US? There is an interesting story to that. As will be recalled he had been the nation’s rep in Switzerland, a country whose pace of life was a far cry from the frenzy of the Washington metropolis. The Swiss appointment was very disruptive to the family.

For example, the schools were not a good fit and the issue was the usual evening supper conversation. When the family officially met the president, the youngest kid, without prompting asked him why he had sent them to that Siberia of a country. You can’t stop an American kid when he has something on her mind (or lips), and the parents could do little but squirm as the little girl, excited at meeting the president wouldn’t stop talking. Apparently Kufuor took the little girl’s protestations seriously, and weeks later offered him the US position.

The ambassadorship was every Washingtonian’s dream job. Since he lived in Washington he loved it, but he didn’t covet it and never campaigned for it. This very private individual is the one that is the fodder for the tabloids and the newspapers of Ghana at the moment. Kwame is still giving great medical service to the people of Alexandria. He would love nothing more than to be giving his resources, time, energy and considerable acumen to the country he loves so dearly.

The attorney general is about to mount an investigation into the EO/KOSMOS connection; power to her. I can go out on a limb and make this prediction. There will be nada skeletons found in Dr. Edusei’s cupboard, for there is no cupboard in the first place.