There is the need for the media to make inquiries on how the political parties would integrate the oil and gas services into the local economy so that it benefits all Ghanaians.
“The media must find out from the political parties how they would manage the volatility of the oil prices on the international market as well as other essential commodities in this electioneering period”, Dr Steve Manteaw, the Co-Chairperson of the Ghana Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (GHEITI), said.
Dr Manteaw said this at the launch of “Ghana Elections 2016: Amplifying Oil and Gas and Election Issues”; an event organised by Penplusbytes with support from Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth and International IDEA.
He also urged the media to package oil and gas articles in a way that would attract public attention, devoid of any sensationalism.
Dr Manteaw said oil and gas issues were critical in national discourse and urged the political parties to pay attention to them so as to ensure transparency and accountability in the management of the extractive sector.
The five-month project is aimed at heightening awareness and strengthening responsiveness to oil and gas governance issues in the country in the electoral discourse.
Dr Manteaw, also a Member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), said as a nation, we have not put urgency on proper management of the oil revenues and cited for instance, there was no metering system on the Floating Production and Storage Offloading Vessel (FPSO), Kwame Nkrumah, to measure the quantities of oil produced on daily basis while the Regulation for the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (PRMA) is non-existent.
He called for new strategies that would enhance the utilization of the oil and gas revenues in order to ensure optimal benefit, saying “as a nation, we must take a cue from South Africa, who use their gold resources to develop their nation.
Dr Manteaw said Ghana could become a hub for the production of fertilizer as the the condensate from the crude oil is an essential commodity for producing them in commercial quantities.
“Currently there is no fertilizer factory in Africa and Ghana could advantage of this to set up a factory to produce fertilizers in commercial quantities”, he said, adding that this would create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth and generate extra revenues for the state through the payment of taxes.
Nana Kobina Nketsia V, the Omanhene of Essikadu Traditional Area, said the Ghanaian media was not independent because it’s being controlled by political investors who use it to meet their objectives.
He said the media has neglected its role as the voice for the voiceless and rather advanced the course of its paymasters and cautioned: “The biggest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed”.
“The issue of making this year’s electioneering campaign issue-based is a dream because the political parties have not tackled issues that are relevant to the people”, he said.
Kwami Ahiabenu II, Executive Director of Penplusbytes, said during the implementation of the project it would undertake a number of activities including online/social media platform discussions, media engagements, voters’ compass, bursaries, editors’ liaison and political parties’ engagements.
He said the project would help transform the ideologies of the political parties into tangible and actionable policies and help improve public scrutiny of the country’s extractive sector.
He said the editors’ liaison meetings for instance, would further advance the oil and gas issues in the newsroom during the electioneering period and beyond.
Penplusbytes is a non-profit organisation driving change through innovations in three key areas using new digital technologies to promote good governance, accountability, new media and innovations as well as enhancing media oversight for effective utilisation of the extractive resources and revenues.
The launch attracted representatives from the civil society organisations, technocrats, media practitioners, economists and oil and gas experts who made various suggestions and contributions on ways to ensure the prudent management of the petroleum resources.