Let's have an independent body for oil negotiations - Prof. Oquaye
The immediate past Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, has underscored the need for the country's oil negotiations to be done by an independent authority no matter the party in power.
The body, he said, should include experts in that area from both the New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress.
"Norway is teaching us the way now that we are an established oil nation. "The name of 'the game is the 'new partnership' which should give us a minimum of 40 per cent of the oil at least," he said.
Professor Oquaye said this when he delivered the inaugural memorial lecture in honour of Okyenhene Ba Dr Jones Akwasi Amoako Atta Ofori-Atta in Accra yesterday[July 6, 2022].
The ceremony which was held at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana was attended by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; the Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare; the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin, traditional rulers, Ministers of State and Members of Parliament (MPs).
A host of other dignitaries including members of the Diplomatic Corps, the family and children of the late statesman such as the current Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, and members of academia were also present.
Prof. Oquaye said it was interesting that the celebration of the life of Dr Ofori-Atta had coincided with the country's economic difficulties mainly triggered by forces beyond it.
"It is imperative to ask: If Dr Ofori-Atta were alive today, from what we have heard above about him, what would he say? Would the fearless Ghanaian patriot keep quiet or he would have valid pieces of advice for the nation he loved? "Certainly he would speak out! Among other things, he would point out the economic trajectories of the COVID-19 pandemic, its global trends and the obvious economic consequences of the Russia-Ukraine War. But he would not end there at all. He would point out the structural deficiencies in our economic system which continues to make us fragile and perilously dependent on imports," he said.
Suppose an incident of global magnitude occurs, he said, (and which can occur) which resulted in total seizure of foreign food, "should we perish? No rice, no meat, no flour. No imported cooking oil, no imported indomie, no foreign rice, no imported bottled water etc. etc. etc. If we cannot survive in the face of this scenario, then we are not a nation".
The former Speaker spoke about the ills in society, stressing that “Ghanaians were perpetually busy in the nation, taking delivery of flour, perfumed rice, 10 years old frozen chicken and even toothpicks.
“We are in a nation where dishonesty was palpably and blatantly fashionable in low and high places; a nation which defied all the values of development and expects to develop; a nation where a public event which should take an hour is recklessly dragged on for four hours; A nation where lateness is “normal” – from the wedding day to every activity in life, and people are expected to be late,” he said.
Prof. Oquaye said he found time to listen to Dr Ofori-Atta on a number of occasions, expounding the ideals of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition, adding that he repeatedly spoke on the need for the State being directed by well-defined ideas, beliefs and values.
Moreover, he said Dr Ofori-Atta spoke on discipline and punctuality and cited him saying that it always made him sad when people avoided work because it had rained.
"Indiscipline abounds everywhere in this nation. We may well dedicate this lecture to absenteeism, lack of punctuality (African time syndrome), insipid corruption at all levels and in all institutions and organisations — even the Church of Christ. It is tragic to recount that while we are crying over our development, some of our countrymen steal bitumen meant for road repairs or construction overnight. Others steal the metals that make the railway tracks on the new railway lines being constructed for the whole Ghana. Others steal the oil from generators, only to have the whole generator blown up," he said.
Ghana, Prof. Oquaye said, had been to the IMF in one form or the other for 16 times, stressing that "by all means, let us go if we have to! because there is nothing new that we can do! But one thing we can do! Let us as a people come together with one accord that “never again.”
He said India, with over 1.2 billion people had internally generated guaranteed food security for over one year if production totally stopped.
Speaking at the event, President Akufo-Addo paid glowing tribute to the late Dr Jones Ofori-Atta, saying that his qualities, courage, integrity and fearlessness made him an outstanding Ghanaian patriot.
He said he had a great sense of humour and was easy to get along with, adding that “he played his part and would not be forgotten." The President further commended the organisers of the programme.
A former Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo, who chaired the event, said the university boasted countless alumni who had distinguished themselves both locally and internationally.
The late Dr Ofori-Atta was an astute economist and a shrewd politician. He was a founder member of the Danquah+Busia Tradition in all its permutations: Progress Party (1969-1971); Popular Front Party, 1979-1981 and the NPP, 1992.
In all the permutations he held various positions at the highest level of the party's hierarchy.
He was an MP for the Begoro Constituency (1969-1972, 1979-1981); Deputy Minister of Finance (1969-1972) and the first non-Professor elected Dean of the Faculty of Social Science, 1973-1979.