Representatives of Christian Coalition have underscored the importance of employing best practices in ensuring prudent management and equitable distribution of the country’s expected oil and gas wealth.
The Coalition, made up of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) and the Ghana Pentecostal Council (GPC), expressed the hope that the best practices would remove all traces of resource nationalism and corruption, thus making Ghanaians feel confident that the oil resources were justly and equitably managed.
Speaking on Monday at a press conference in Accra, Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of CCG and member of the Coalition observed that, varied national reactions to the discovery of oil existed in many countries with Ghana being without exception.
He noted that, the experience of some African countries had been positive, where oil revenue had been used to improve the social and economic standing of the citizenry.
“In others, the discovery of oil has not brought any appreciable improvement in the socio-economic standing of her people. On the contrary, oil discovery and production has increased resource nationalism and corruption, which has combined to make a few people fabulously rich and driven the majority into extreme poverty,” he said.
Rev. Deegbe said the Coalition had decided to participate in the public debate on the oil issue because apart from being Ghanaians, the natural resource was ‘a gift given to the country by God, who demands proper stewardship for the gift to mankind.’
“It is partly for these reasons that we of the CCG and GPC, in line with our prophetic role, have formed a coalition, under the sponsorship of the Ghana Research and Advocacy Programme, to contribute to the development of our oil and gas industry,” he said.
He said the coalition was committed towards engaging civil society organisations, policy makers and the media to ensure prudent and transparent distribution of the oil and gas revenue.
Rev. Deegbe added: “we intend to create awareness among the church membership and social leaders with influence to enhance their knowledge on the benefits and effects of oil and gas production on social, moral, environmental and political life in Ghana. We hope to serve as watch dogs for the effects of the oil and gas.”
He said the coalition had already rolled out programmes to ensure that policy makers, stakeholders and interested groups were properly engaged for proper management of oil revenue as well as to help tone down the high expectation of the citizenry of the wealth.
Rev. Deegbe commended the Government, on behalf of the coalition, for demonstrating strong commitment to accountability and transparency, by collaborating with the various platforms for public and stakeholder consultations and debate, resulting in the formulation of policies, to address concerns of accountability and transparency.
Rev. Deegbe said the coalition would embark on community sensitisation programme at Half Assini in the Western Region, to address their concerns and observations from the discovery of oil in commercial quantities.
Apostle Samuel Yaw Antwi, General Secretary of GPC, said the coalition considered it as appropriate and timely to participate in discussion issues bordering on the recent oil discovery to avert conflicts, synonymous with some African countries ‘blessed’ with the natural resource.
Apostle Antwi, who is also a member of the Coalition, said the country had enough experience to learn from, as far as extraction and exploration of natural resources were concerned, citing mining communities as an example.
He noted that many of such communities were deprived of basic amenities even though the country’s revenue was derived from the communities.
Apostle Antwi called for advocacy, dialogue and pragmatic steps to address concerns and needs of the citizenry to avert national conflict and what he described as “resource nationalism.”