THE RESIDENT Representative of the Konrad Adeneur Foundation (KAS), Mr. Klaus Loetzer, has indicated that the mere discovery of oil, and the abundant existence of natural resources in the country, would not propel the nation towards its desired development.
According to him, it was good that there has been an oil discovery in the country, in addition to gold, and the many other natural resources that Ghana had possessed for centuries, but the discovery would remain meaningless, if it is not harnessed properly to address the challenges of the country.
Mr. Loetzer made this known at a consultative meeting on natural resources management for traditional authorities, on the theme “Working with Traditional Authorities for Governance and Natural Resource Management at the Local Level,” in the Upper West Region last week.
The workshop organized by the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), with support from KAS, was to build synergies for traditional leaders in the region, to engage with the district assembly structures at the local level, in the management of resources. It was also to create awareness on the potentials of gold mining, and land management, for addressing poverty at the lower level.
The KAS Representative continued that it was necessary to constantly involve traditional leaders in the management of natural resources, since they have been the custodians of such resources for centuries.
He said though central government had taken over the responsibility in the management of such resources, “it is however prudent for stakeholders to ascertain the converging point, for both the state and the traditional authorities, in the areas where natural resources are abundant.”
This, he indicated would benefit the entire nation, in contributing to the efforts at addressing the challenges of health, education, and employment among others.
He expressed regret that in spite of the fact that Africa has countless avenues of resource opportunities, the continent had failed to use the resources for the benefit of the people.
He noted also that the management style of these resources, has led to protracted conflict, maiming and destruction of families.
According to him, it had therefore become necessary, to support traditional institutions to take up their appropriate roles in the national agenda, and particularly ensure that the discovery of oil does not become a curse for Ghanaians, saying, “It would sadden God if the resources given to the people, rather becomes a bane.”
On his part, the Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Wa, Mr. Abdul Azziz Mohammed, noted that traditional authorities were major stakeholders in the implementation of developmental projects, and programmes at the district and sub-district level. As such, he said, their involvement in the management of natural resources was indispensable.
He mentioned that it had become important for stakeholders to discuss critical issues of mutual concern, and especially integrate the concerns of traditional authorities into the District Assembly system, so as to achieve meaningful development at the district level. “Indeed, the unique position chiefs occupy in the Ghanaian society, and the tremendous influence they wield on their subjects, makes it extremely impossible to pursue and execute any developmental program without their tacit support and approval,” he stressed.
The MCE stated that there was also the need for land resource management, in particular in the region, since every piece of land set aside for development in the area, had been engulfed in litigation by various groups of landlords, and serving as a disincentive to investors.
He therefore called for a dispassionate discussion on the topic, to provide strategies for working with District Assemblies, and concrete action plans for effective collaboration between traditional authorities, in a manner that would yield maximum benefits, for the area and entire Ghanaian population.