We have traveled this way before, and it did not end us very nicely; and so I don?t know why these chiefs from the Western Region would rehash an old argument that is squarely predicated on ethno-regionalism rather than common sense. Yes, it is about common sense and managerial efficiency and competence. It is also about the equitable distribution of our national and natural resources. Still, after what we have learned about the Woyome Saga and Mr. Mahama and the corner-cutting or 10-percent contractual scam-artistry ? and on the latter score, of course, I am citing former Attorney-General Martin A. B. K. Amidu ? it begins to somewhat make sense that some chiefs and people would come to rather scandalously envisage and appreciate cabinet appointments as one that primarily promotes ethnic self-centeredness.
I don?t know who put this unimpeachably silly idea into the head of a chief like Awulae Agyamfi Kwame, the Omanhene of the Nsein Traditional Area, that the best way to have both his tribal enclave and the Western Region, in general, developed is to have the former Deputy Energy Minister, Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Boah, a ?son? of the region, named to the yet-to-be-created office of Minister of Oil and Gas (See ?Oil Minister Must Be from the Western Region ? Chiefs? JoyOnline.com/Ghanaweb.com 1/16/13).
First of all, as Energy Economist Mohammed Amin Adam aptly pointed out in response to this rather tasteless call from the chiefs, the massive oil reserves discovered offshore the Western Region, were not discovered by petro-chemical engineers born and raised in the Western Region. And I am not even sure whether these chiefs have any remarkable understanding of the massive amounts of research and capital resources that went into both the prospecting and discovery of ?black gold? on the seaboard off the coast of Western Ghana.
Now, I prefer to call the Jubilee enclave ?Western Ghana? because properly speaking, no chief has jurisdiction over the sea in that part of the Democratic Republic of Ghana. Rather, it is Ghana as an internationally recognized geopolitical entity that owns the legal rights to the area as part of its territorial waters. Now, as those of our readers who have been sedulously following this series may already be aware of, I have absolutely no care or concern for the government of the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress; I firmly am of the unabashed opinion that Mr. Mahama is not the legitimately elected president of Ghana and will never be. But the incontrovertible fact of my Ghanaian citizenship makes it imperative for me to contribute to the national discourse on the development of our country.
And so in the foregoing context, when I solemnly observe the fact that no group of chiefs has any right to dictate to the central government who ought to be named to what cabinet post, I make such observation more as a statesman who has the greater interests of the nation at heart, than as a partisan ideologue of either of Ghana?s major political parties.
Indeed, rather than childishly throw tantrums over who ought to occupy what post, the ?aggrieved? chiefs would be better off soliciting the expertise of development planners and putting together a viable development agenda for their ethnic enclaves and/or region, and then tabling the same through their elected representatives and having the latter lobby the central government on their behalf.
As for the 10-percent share of oil revenue nonsense put forth by the chiefs, the least said about it the better. The fact of the matter is that without a concretely laid agenda or development plan, such humongous revenue may very well end up in the private wallets of these chiefs and their drinking buddies and paramours. In other words, if these chiefs are simply looking towards lining their pockets with moneys that belong to the people they have been traditionally invested to serve, then they had better forget about the entire matter. I don?t even know that I could even agree with Mr. Adam, the energy economist, that the ?chiefs have a right to lobby? the government as long as they do so with a modicum of circumspection.
Rather, as adumbrated above, the chiefs have local political conduits like district and regional chief executives, as well as Members of Parliament, through whom to channel their parochial interests and other forms of solicitation with the central government.
The sad and tragic reality, though, looking at how Election 2012 was fiercely fought along ethnic and regional lines, particularly vis-?-vis the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress, I would not be surprised if with a fervid eye towards Election 2016, Mr. Mahama decides to do politics on the cheap by pandering to the basest instincts of these petty-minded Western regional chiefs.
If this happens, then even as Mr. Adam rightly pointed out, an unsavory precedent would likely be set whereby chiefs whose territorial enclaves also happen to be endowed with certain precious natural resources begin to vigorously lobby the government for their ?sons and daughters? to be officially charged with overseeing the same. This kind of patronage has absolutely no place in a constitutional democracy like ours.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Jan. 16, 2013