Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Oil, Mr. President ... leave it in the ground.

Run! The Aliens are here!

                30-40 years from now ... will their lives testify/negate our decision to drill the oil?

Mr. President, the Ministers in government, proponents of oil-drilling in Ghana … leave the oil in the ground.

All the potential 120,000 barrels a day, 800 million barrel-reserves, and the estimated one billion more that you have already feverishly started looking to locate.
Leave it ALL in the ground.

Already, there are fierce debates about whether the local people of Nzema and Takoradi, more specifically, the fishermen, ought to be compensated, as they are asking.

Already, the chief of the Nzema traditional area, has passionately declared that they are hiring a lawyer to aggressively pursue their interest in the case, citing as their reasons - the arrogance of government, the way they have ignored and trampled over them to get to the oil, the non-integration of his people, their youth, and the fishermen in the oil-drilling preparations being held in their waters.

Yes, their waters.
They were, before government was.

Traditional institutions – chiefs, local rulers, etc. existed before new conceptions such as presidencies and governmental veto-power. Traditional laws existed before democratic rule.

Society before government.
It was society that gave birth to the children who grow to become the proponents and representatives of democracy, to stand in government and rule the country. It is society; the people, who raise these children to fill in those shoes.

Must the Chief and his people be listened to, compensated? I say bloody yes!

Theirs is the land and the waters … they were there long before any president, and would have remained so, ignored, unassisted, unknown – if no-one had gone to discover oil there.
Why snatch what is theirs away from them, and use cold, hard law to decide what is now whose, what must be compensated, and what is perfectly alright to take it away from whom with not so much as a “How d’you do?”

I reckon no-one would go snatch their land and waters from them in such a hurry, if it were drowning under waste, filth, high mortality rates, unemployment, high levels of illiteracy, and no sense of individual self-worth.
Oh, wait … that is exactly the state they were in, before the oil was discovered. And that is exactly the state they are in now, because? … Ding!! The oil is the only focus there.

Leave the oil in the ground, I say.

The economic and social risks of its drilling are worse than those we’d face if we had no oil, and kept on with our current pace of economic and social progress.

In the case of the Niger Delta’s horrendous oil spills over the last 50 years, it’s the people of the area who have suffered harshly, not the Nigerian government.
In the case of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (USA), it’s the people of Louisiana and the the Gulf, and others nearby, who have lost much, not the government of America.
In the case of Peru, it’s the uncontacted communities, the unique diversity of the Amazon rainforest, and the people, who have suffered the very very selfish decision of the Peru presidency to open up such a paradise to oil-drillers.
In the case of Ecuador, they demand $350 million a year from those who want to save that last untouched portion of the Amazon, or threaten to open it up to oil-drillers as well. Yet again, it’s the people who will suffer.

It has, and always will, be the case.
Last I checked, the oil is not about making things better for the people. Will they directly BENEFIT? No. Government handles all revenue incomes, and only promises the people a share via better facilities.
Will they get cheaper petrol or crude oil products? No.

The Nzema indigenes at Cape Three Points are more likely to lose their homes, way of life, dignity, self-worth, and whatever semblance of a life they have left.

But what about the middle-income status they are waving about in our faces, you ask? The 10% increase in Ghana’s GDP?
Whaaa’?! (in a vivid British Cockney accent). That all they got to offer?!
Phoooey shyte-sticks and fiddlefuff! Middle-income status and 10% increase in GDP?!

I’ll take GNH anyday over these.

Gross National Happiness a.k.a. Happiness Index. Because at the end of the day, people don’t think about, don’t live on, are not helped – by the GDP of their country.

They are encouraged, inspired, motivated, kept alive – by their happiness index. By how economically, humanely, psychologically, socially WELL/HEALTHY they are. And if they have most of, or all of these, they have better stability, are happier, enjoy more family and social security, feel more appreciates and self-confident, and feel more self-worth, with or without a well-paying career; career, not job.

These are the indices of the GNH, and the most economically productive countries in the world have citizens who score high ratings on these indices, BEFORE they score equally or exponentially higher on their GDP.

What am I saying? I’m telling my addressees not to fool themselves anymore than they have. I’m telling them that it is the GNH of your people that builds up the GDP of your country.
In fact, screw the GDP! It’s all about the GNH, babe.

‘Sides, the crude oil is all about what government wants, and the money that those in government will get into their personal coffers, not about the people in the area, and not about the people of Ghana.

What about the development opportunities which come with it, you ask?

Oh, I can give you plenty that come with non-fossil fuel activities! And I won’t just stop there, but I’ll show you how high up the GNH scale THOSE are, as well!
And guess what? When I finish with that, I’ll tell you how they develop NOT JUST the people and their Happiness Index (GNH), but ALSO grow the economy, the nation, and formulate us into a better country to be proud of!
3 unselfish strikes against your puny greedy 1-sided one for promoting oil-drilling.

We start.
If I were in your shoes … what would I offer the people and the proponents of the oil-drilling, IN PLACE of the estimated revenue and high risk of devastation and civil war?

1.    One thing Ghana has, is good education. When our education is good, it’s really good, high-level, international-standards good. But our scientists, engineers, and inventors come out in the hundreds of thousands each year, and struggle for years to find jobs, and if they are lucky, careers.

I’d give the scientists, engineers, inventors, designers, illiterate artisans and blacksmiths JOB OPPORTUNITIES. They’ll improve on, build, invent technologies that will tap into these, with focus on our local capacity:
a.    Solar energy
b.    Wind Energy
c.    Biogas
d.    Liquid ammonia as fuel and energy
e.    Hydrogen
f.     Nuclear energy
g.    Sea-waves
h.    Plastic waste recycling, or into energy
i.     Weeds as biomass
They would be empowered and inspired, and people encouraged and convinced – to buy these efficient, innovative, cost-cutting gizmos and gadgets they’d produce and sell.
Business people will be encouraged to purchase some of the designs, and produce the gadgets themselves for their own profit.
Better yet, I’d pull up international interests to come buy the designs for themselves at good prices.

Like I said, JOBS and INCOME for the people. Note that self-confidence and happiness is sure to come with these, as is a sense of security and stability. GNH, several indices, individual capacity building, national development!

2.    I’d encourage recycling on an even more massive scale than it is (at least plastic recycling is now big in Ghana), making it easier for plastic AND other recyclable products to be:
a.    Used in manufacturing things locally
b.    Exported profitably to countries that require it (as is now the case)

Encourage more local processing and finishing so we make more profit when they are exported; grow the local manufacturing industries, put more affordable products on the market for the people, bring in export revenue.

The people learn more about processing and refining, more jobs are created, people can afford more items on the market, job security, individual stability. GNH, several indices, individual capacity building, national development!

3.    I would also get our Renewable Energy Policy passed into law promptly, so that we can get more people onto green energy – solar, wind, hydro, etc.

With this, more investors will come into the green energy sector, there will be more service providers and better prices, (micro)finance companies will support individuals who want to go for green energy, and there will be a reasonable Feed-in Tariff rate so that any surplus energy can be sold back to the national outfits at good mutual profit.

With the surplus energy, and the intentional extra that I’d ensure the country produces, I’d have acquired strategic business deals with neighbouring countries, and export the extra green energy to them; or sell them to large internal industries, or export them to foreign countries. And the ‘items’ in question would be:
a.    Solar Energy
b.    Wind energy
c.    Biogas
d.    Briquettes (green coal)

4.    I’d set in motion, several Sustainable initiatives such as:
a.    Rainwater harvesting – where rainwater is diverted via rooftops and ground run-offs into large underground reservoirs for uses such as watering, car-washing, flushing of toilets, etc. It will be encouraged communally or individually, and it will cut water costs.
Also, business-savvy people in the community can purify/filter the water, and sell it at a slight profit.

b.    Green architectural and Contractor services – where people will be made aware of the benefits and cost-cutting effects of designing and building homes and offices, etc which take advantage of natural lighting and natural ventilation, and less artificial lighting and air-conditioning/heating; and architects and builders encouraged to deliver such services and encourage people to actualize them.
I’d put in place certain remunerations to make such actions profitable to both parties.

c.    People making more use of their community businesses, services, markets, etc, so that wealth generated goes right back into their community, and grows it; not go out of the country.

I didn’t add my 3-strike comment at the ends of 3 and 4, so that you can do it yourself! Try it, it’s fun! :)
But it’s likely never going to happen, and we’re gonna go right ahead and drill that oil.

Oh, well! 

Maybe we'll get lucky and end up like the UAE, or Qatar, or Saudi Arabia, and then we'd build large, fantastical cities like Dubai, out of nothing but ocean or desert ... or we'll get grabbed by our balls by the Americans for all the money we owe them (and others), and they'll send General Petraeus in to occupy us and our oil wells, on the excuse that Prez. Mills lost his marbles and saw too many giant black stars overpowering those 50 tiny white ones.

Whatever the case, there'll be drama, and we better have the popcorn ready when the show starts.

“Governments come and go … come and go.
But the people will always, always be here.”


  1. My response to an acquaintance who made a fair argument for the oil to be drilled, with focus on the world's dependence on crude oil and its other constituents for asphalt, tar, polymers for plastic etc ... and that no other form of energy propels the world as well as crude right now, plus the fact that the rig is 100km+ into the sea, and hardly part of the Nzema indigenes' fishing waters, etc WAS THIS:

    Leaving it in the ground will never be an option, but being the pragmatically optmistic person I am, I tend to accept realities and then, advocate for hope.

    Both your arguments are sound ... I love them (but they still only talk about hard, cold economy, not the welfare of the people)
    However at the end of the day, my personal focus lies mostly and primarily on the welfare of the people in the longterm ... the future ...

    We used to do just well without plastics and asphalt, tar etc ... science always seems to be coming up with faux plastic pellets, faux tar, faux everything. More importantly, science will always be able to come up with replacements more sustainable, if the need arrives, so perhaps we will have no choice but to wait it out.

    What we can't deny is the fact that, the more oil we confirm as available to the world, the more activity will occur on our offshores, and sooner or later, the nearest coastal areas and the indigenes there will be swamped and overtaken by all sorts and manner of people, events, and disasters. It is inevitable ...

    As I always say ... humankind only mutates when their existence is on the verge of being wiped out.
    When the time for renewable energy and sustainable initiatives crash into our existence, I pray that we would have been steadily getting prepared in that area ... and that we'd be able to mutate fast enough.

    I pray.

  2. this post is very effective. I'm a believer is creating, creativity. As a people, we have sold that ability to the dogs. We eat more than we produce (it was not like that before), buy mor than we sell and so on. We cannot think new ways of doing things anymore. Our governance system is not really our own. If the scaffolds/foundations are weak, what is there to hold the building?
    That is why I like your alternatives; but, in this country, in this continent, we have cretinised minds in abundance ready to doubt new ways. That should not be a problem if these mentally derailed minds are not those with power, punishing the people of this continent at every turn.
    Good work comrade!

  3. Thank you, comrade!!

    First time in a long while someone has agreed to my 'outrageous fantasies and theories' on Ghana's renewable and sustainable potential.

    A few more, and we'll be well on the Road to A-Better-Ghana!

  4. I worry about the rest of the world preying on us and bullying us into taking the oil. That's my number 1 fear. So what are the pros of drilling?

  5. Pros for drilling, honey?
    Why, a dozen to a million ... all about the cold, hard cash ... and nothing about the welfare of the people.
    Any all-night prayer sessions around the area?

  6. Right on! The oil the world demands is a poison to it. The export economy created to serve it is a poison to you.