Many continue to be surprised at the apparent silence of the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) on the decision by AGM, a sister company of the Norway-based Aker Energy, to pull out of the US$1.65 billion transaction with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
The NDC, is said to have some competent materials who have at various times worked in the energy ministry and understands the fallout of the botched transaction, but observers have been worried at the deafening silence of the Minority, especially those on the Mines and Energy Committee.
Amongst them, include the Edward Bawa, the Member of Parliament Bongo in the Upper East Region and the Ranking Member, John Jinapo, MP for Yapei-Kusawgu in the Savanna Region, Kwabena Donkor, MP for Pru East in Bono East Region and the Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, the MP for Ellembele in the Western Region.
They have either been spokespersons, deputy ministers or the substantive ministers at the Energy Ministry, interestingly they have kept a total silence on the matter since news broke that the transaction had collapsed because AGM had pulled out technically handing over the oil some state official were willing to sink over US$1.65 billion, for free.
There is a feeling that the opposition party which is working desperately to be elected into office come 2024, has ceded its role of demanding accountability, especially in the energy sector to Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) particularly Imani Africa and the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP).
There is suspicion that some of the NDC MPs, are not effective in the discharge of their duties because they are undergoing one criminal investigation or the other while they were at the Energy Ministry.
However, mention has also been made of the friendships some of them have with the Minister of Energy Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh and the ex-GNPC Dr Kofi Kodua Sarpong alias KK Sarpong, hence unable to discharge their parliamentary responsibilities of holding the government accountable especially the energy sector.
They have not been able to speak about Ghana Gas, the relocation of the Ameri power to the Ashanti Region and the outrageous cost being slapped on taxpayers, as well as the concerns from the staff of the Volta River Authority (VRA).
Investigations into the Genser Energy deal, has also been put on ice nearly seven months after the Mines and Energy Committee of parliament, announced it was investigating the transaction which has been described as a sweetheart deal favourable to Genser, but extremely inimical to the state. Indeed, there are claims of some inducement of some state officials who were instrumental in the transaction with landed properties in and around Aburi.
Recently, in a joint statement, IMANI and ACEP, called on President Nana Akufo-Addo, to commission an enquiry into the Aker-AGM transaction in which 15 months ago, the Ministry of Energy led by Dr Opoku Prempeh and GNPC under KK Sarpong, had wanted the state to partly acquire at US$1.65 billion.
According to the two respected Civil Society Organization (CSOs) this “Inject a culture of accountability into the management of the petroleum industry and ensure that the country can count on leadership to avert paying hundreds of millions of dollars on avoidable transactions. This would also help to establish whether these were a series of honest mistakes or a case of capture of the state representatives.
The probe, the CSOs said should “Establish the source of the overwhelming power Aker and AGM have had to dictate their terms in the oil industry since 2018 and the preferential treatment they have enjoyed. We are reminded that laws were changed to favour Aker, the role of the Petroleum Commission was watered down to lift Aker above our local content laws, and the interest of Explorco was zero-rated to provide an incentive for Aker, among other benefits”.
Imani Africa and ACEP, had in a statement welcomed the announcement by AGM Petroleum to relinquish its interest in the South Deepwater Tano (SDWT) block, which hosts one discovery, the Nyankom-1X, from a drilling campaign embarked on by AGM in 2019.
They insisted that more needs to be done regarding this matter and the whole issue of Aker Energy’s oil holdings in Ghana to ensure the rule of law and fair treatment for Ghana as the sovereign.
Imani Africa and ACEP in a joint statement called on President Akufo-Addo to commission an enquiry into the Aker-AGM transaction to: “Inject a culture of accountability into the management of the petroleum industry and ensure that the country can count on leadership to avert paying hundreds of millions of dollars on avoidable transactions. This would also help to establish whether these were a series of honest mistakes or a case of capture of the state representatives.
The inquiry is also to “Establish the source of the overwhelming power Aker and AGM have had to dictate their terms in the oil industry since 2018 and the preferential treatment they have enjoyed. We are reminded that laws were changed to favour Aker, the role of the Petroleum Commission was watered down to lift Aker above our local content laws, and the interest of Explorco was zero-rated to provide an incentive for Aker, among other benefits.”
Finally, the group wants the enquiry “to recommend clear actions required to develop the Pecan field after Aker has failed to submit an acceptable Plan of Development in five years as an operator of the Deep-Water Tano Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) block. Aker has received ten extensions, and it appears imminent that the company will request the eleventh extension with clear indications that Aker has not fulfilled its obligations to Ghana under the terms of its contract.”