Takoradi, September 25 – Opinion leaders — Chiefs, Queen Mothers, Assembly Members — have discussed a wide range of issues — decentralisation, transparency and accountability and conditions of living — at a forum held as part of BloggingGhana’s informGhana project.
The forum was held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Takoradi and the theme was “Oil and Gas: Proper Governance for the Benefit of Society.”
The forum started with an introduction of the informGhana project by Nehemiah Attigah, the Project Manager. The discussion was led by a panel made up of three traditional authorities and an Assembly member and was moderated by Mr Winston Amoah of Skyy FM.
At the forum, Nana Kwasi Agyeman IX acknowledged that the oil and gas industry in the Western Region is a nascent sector but took issues with the laws governing the industry. He also bemoaned the concentration of “discretionary powers” in the Energy and Oil ministry saying it betrays the principles of transparency and accountability.
Talking more on transparency and accountability, Nana Kwasi Agyeman further noted with regret how monies from the oil industry are used and accounted for. He also bemoaned how revenue from the oil industry is channeled into capacity building.
In addition, he also complained about how major government projects are carried out in the region. According to him, there are too many piecemeal government projects currently in the region which makes monitoring of projects quite difficult. He also noted that due to the multiplicity of projects in the region, funding to complete these projects becomes a problem.
Another panelist and a chief, Nana Kofi Abuna, lamented about how chiefs and Queen Mothers from the region have been left out on governance issues. Recounting her interview with the BBC at the height of the oil discovery, she said she expressed hope that oil find would improve lives but till date, she has seen “nothing yet.”
On transparency and accountability, Nana Kofi Abuna decried the lack of transparency in the oil and gas sector. She also decried the region’s poor roads, slow pace of development and lack of consultation at the grassroots level. To her, decision making in Ghana is a top down approach instead of bottom up approach which in her view, is best practice.
A panelist, Nana Kuku Dadzie, who is also Chief fisherman in the region, in his remark, said the region is hoping the oil find will improve living standards but so far, in his view, not much impact has been felt since the oil discovery. He also noted how the expansion of the oil industry is gradually depriving fishermen at the coast their source of livelihood.
Speaking on behalf of his colleague assembly members, Mr. Samson K. Nimako, concluded that the oil discovery has not been beneficial to the region. He also said because of the oil industry, prices of goods and services had gone up, and for the first time, the region is seeing unnecessary traffic build up.
He also decried the unnecessary politicisation of issues which he says is hindering the region’s development. He also warned against entrenched political stands.
The forum was attended by civil society groups in the region, media practitioners in the region, assembly men and some members of the general public.
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