Ghana's democracy took another giant step forward along its tortuous path to maturity yesterday, when appendages of government agreed to publicly debate recent concerns expressed about the West Africa Gas Pipeline Project (WAGP) by sections of the Ghanaian public, chiefly, the Executive Secretary of Ghana's Energy Commission.
The Weekend Agenda is aware that, the Ministry of Energy, the Energy Commission, the Volta River Authority, and the World Bank were marshaled at short notice, to engage with civil society groups and the general public at a public forum on the WAGP, but none made excuses to stay away. Though the issue was a rather contentious one, proceedings were civil and well organized. This is the beauty of democracy. We are all in this boat together, and it is important that, whoever senses danger sounds the alarm bells, lest we all perish.
All the speakers demonstrated in depth knowledge of their areas of expertise, and provided enough information about the project and its implications for the country's search for a cheaper and a more sustainable energy source. At the end of the programme, almost all participants, including the speakers, agreed that the WAGP was the right energy option to pursue.
Serious doubts, the Weekend Agenda observed however, remained about whether or not Ghana was getting the best value for its investment in the project, and also whether or not our negotiators had effectively used whatever bargaining chips we had to our advantage.
The Weekend Agenda has also learned that the forum was targeted at Members of Ghana's Parliament, but only few made it to the event, ostensibly because they were busy filing their candidatures for the 2004 elections. The paper takes this opportunity to call on our honourables to at least for this once, put their parochial, and partisan interests aside, and the country's in focus as they deliberate the West Gas Pipeline Project bill before them. We urge them to live up to their call, by subjecting the legal frame work documents and commercial agreements on the project to rigorous examination, to protect the sovereignty and interests of the state and the people they represent.