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28.09.2018 Business Features

Money Games At GNPC Set Tongues Wagging

By Ghanaian Chronicle
Money Games At GNPC Set Tongues Wagging
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Petroleum… The word and its commodity have held different emotions for the people at the centre of the earth. Throughout the political evolution of this society, from the colonial era through the euphoria at the old Polo Grounds on the declaration that this society is free forever, all the way to the era of the men on horseback, and the khaki and cross belts, the agitation has always centered on the price build-up.

When R.R… you guessed right, the bald old man is referring to that Amponsah without the pre-fix. I mean the man who pioneered the art of spending quite a long time behind bars under Dr. Nkrumah's Preventive Detention Act. He appeared in the old Parliament House one day in 1970, holding a jar of the black gold, and pronounced that Ghana had hit oil – the euphoria spilled on to street corners and drinking bars throughout the country.

When Tsuatsa's empire rose with millions of this nation's meager foreign exchange reserves, the charge was to improve on the tiny find at the Saltpond Oil Fields. Tsuatsa is no more the He Who Must Be Obeyed, but the agitation that led to his exit persists, even in the era of the 'football people.'

Reports speak of leaking state revenue from ventures far from the company's core mandate. Between January and June this year, as much as GH¢11 million was spent on four staff to travel to Her Majesty's Great Britain to attend an achievement award dedicated to the Ghanaian in the Diaspora. The 'football people' sent to administer the company, since the Elephant bulldozed its way to the Jubilee House, committed US$20,000 to the event in London, an official announcement said.

That is not all the 'wahala'. As you read this piece, Oga is nestling in Cuba, once upon a time the Communist enclave at Uncle Sam's door-steps. The official, and definitely the unofficial, additions have not been chronicled. But the disappearance of huge foreign exchange from travels at the empire is causing consternation to those who know a thing or two about probity and accountability.

One of the immediate actions taken by Oga on assuming power was to create a new department. It was christened Sustainability. Now, one would have thought that Sustainability would connote savings. Not this one! A huge amount of US$23 million was allocated to it, certainly more than a ministry's budget in Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo's administration.

Guess what, the head of Sustainability Department was imported from one of the banks declared insolvent and ordered to close by the Central Bank recently. The buzz around this department is that it owes its genesis and lead staffing from those days when Oga and the new departmental head exchanged notes at the now defunct bank.

At my age and disposition, remembrance and clear thoughts have ways of eluding the argument, which explains why the link, dating much earlier than the era of the defunct bank, might have been missed.

In Akan folklore, the Sankofa bird stretches its beak backwards until it touches the feathers near the anus. It is the Akans' way of emphasising the past in informing the way the future is formulated. Once upon a football era, the Porcupine symbolised the way players, officials, and followers of the club related to each other.

Football has a large following, wherever the game has been advertised, which is why the latest issue generating wagging by workers is of major concern. The buzz doing the rounds is not why the Sustainability Department is funding state scholarship schemes. It is the idea that three female students benefiting from British education through the scheme might have additional responsibilities for taking care of emotional problems of some of the bosses that is what is causing so much stir.

It is this realisation which is fuelling the rumour machine and suggesting that the frequent travels abroad might not owe much to the operational needs of Tsuatsa's former empire. It is the suggestion that the beneficiaries might rather compromise on their benevolence to the detriment of operational duties that is raising much concern in the empire Tsuatsa founded.

There is another concern of weightier magnitude. Some are already labeling it Much Ado About Nothing. But others with much longer links to the petroleum industry, and the company generally, are raising concerns. There is some concern too for procurement, every company's nightmare in this country.

Some say it is not procurement per se that is the problem, it is the man holding that brief that is the source of all the consternation. When the 'football people' rode on the back of the Elephant to the empire Tsuasta built, the conventional wisdom was for the new head to appoint a new man to head Procurement. It was on the back of a huge opportunity offering itself with the original head departing.

Somehow, the Deputy has sought protection under the Umbrella from the era of the Culture of Silence, and has been left in an acting capacity all this while.

In a society where over-invoicing and under-declaration in procurement have combined to have devastating effects on state resources, those raising the red flags are obviously looking up to the authorities to consider many advocates of elephant principles in the establishment and beyond, to fill the vacancy. Do not discount the influence of politics in any venture at the centre of the earth.

Filing past empty coffin as Kofi Annan goes home

At the time the late Kofi Annan was taking his tutorials at Mfantsipim to begin life as a diplomat, the bald old man with one leg in the grave was also a dashing young man at a rival school at Cape Coast. Our paths crossed a number of times at sporting events and debating clubs, where we tried to impress the fairer sex.

When Kofi headed the Ghana Tourist Board, the bearded old man chose the academic route to life, holding the chalk at the Ivory Tower. On the few occasions our paths crossed, either on the conference floor in Geneva, Washington, or Paris, we had moments to share of our youth in the former Gold Coast capital that also became the headquarters of the Western Regional Administration, and now housing the Co-ordinating Council of the Central Region.

The bald old man was nestling in the old sofa, when television broke the news of Kofi's demise. Quite a few drops of tears dropped from the old and tired eyes. When a date was announced for the return of his mortal remains, the bald old academic was in an expectant mood.

On learning of the three-days of mourning declared through the Presidential decree of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I sent for the delivery men to take the old black suit to the laundry.

Let it be known that alcohol has never touched the old lips of the bald old man for a considerable time now, but when the casket, said to contain the mortal remains of the Ghanaian who rose to become the world's leading diplomat, touched down at the Kotoka International Airport, I reached for the Black Label that had decorated the gift box from time immemorial.

I decided to join the file-past event at the Accra International Conference Centre on the second day. I sent for Paa Kwesi, my escort for such events, but when mourners were filing past a coffin that was firmly sealed and wrapped with the Ghana flag, I thought something was not right.

I told myself, 'Hang on Old Boy!' What is it that could account for a sealed coffin at a filing past event in this country? There is only one answer. The sealed coffin never had the mortal remains of the great man. If television footage never recorded the bearded old man filing past the coffin, there is your answer!

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