Policy Analyst of the Peoples National Convention (PNC), has taken on the five New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament (MPs), who desperately attempted to kill the Atuabo Free Port project by Lonrho Ghana Limited with a lawsuit, and deny the people of the Western Region, the thousands of jobs the project is bringing.
Atik Mohammed commended highly “the judiciary for their instructive and phenomenal pronouncement in the matter between five NPP MPs”, last Friday, by throwing out the case brought against Lonrho Ghana Ltd and the government of Ghana.
The Policy Analyst, who doubles as the spokesperson for the Non-Governmental Organization; “Mass Action Committee”, also dealt with the flagbearer of the NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo for allowing his law firm to be used in a venture that was to deny Ghanaians jobs.
According to Mr. Mohammed, “….the verdict is a vindication of the principle of separation of powers and a great defense of the integrity of the institution of parliament”.
The five MPs are: Kwaku Kwarteng, Obuasi West; Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah, Takoradi; Joseph Cudjoe, Effia; Mavis Hawa Koomson, Ewutu Senya and Kofi Brako, Tema Central. This means the British company; Lonrho Ports and its Ghanaian counterparts, could go ahead and put up the oil and gas Freeport in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis.
Mass Action Committee, in a statement released over the weekend, pointed out that the project has a lot of job opportunities for the scary number of unemployed Ghanaians, hence all well-meaning Ghanaians, must give their blessings to the project.
“It is worth mentioning that, we expressed our disquiet regarding the suit the MPs had brought given its implications on our body politic and socio-economic governance by extension”, the Mass Action Committee, said.
It noted “We were particularly worried about the involvement of some key players in this whole process, especially the MPs themselves and the law Chambers that spearheaded the law suit. We further lamented the loud silence of the Minority leadership in parliament on this matter”.
But “…we are happy the judiciary has restored the dignity of parliament and saved it from a possible partisan destruction.”
It said “in order to maintain the integrity of parliament and promote institutionalism, petty partisanship such as that which led the NPP MPs to hold the free port project and the entirety of Ghanaians to ransom through that court case must be eschewed”.
The Mass Action Committee said “It must be underscored that, parliament is an organ of government that works for and on behalf of all Ghanaians and therefore, MPs must apply themselves to this task without recourse to partisan considerations. It is in this respect we find the MPs’ actions unacceptable”.
The group noted that “…parties that profess certain ideals must be able and willing to hold their Members of Parliament to those ideals. It is in this respect that, we find the attitude of the leadership of NPP disappointing”.
On Nana Addo, the group said, “the Flagbearer has on countless occasions professed his commitment to the private sector, however his apparent silence on the attempt by the five MPs to hold to ransom an otherwise auspicious and job creating investment is mind-boggling”.
It added that “in order to give Ghanaians the confidence that, they will promote the private sector, the NPP especially the Flagbearer whose law Chambers prosecuted the case and the Minority leadership in Parliament must speak to this issue and indicate their willingness to support such initiatives”.
Additionally, “they must also assure the people within the catchment area of this project and indeed, all Ghanaians, that they bear no ill-intentions towards their well-being and this job creating investment”.
“It is our considered opinion that, the so much trumpeted local content policy in the oil and gas industry can only find meaning in enterprises such as the Atuabo Free Port project. And therefore, we expected all and sundry to support the initiative especially after the due diligence had been done by the committee of Parliament which included NPP MPs and subsequently approved by the entire House”.
“It is our hope that, by this ruling, no MP will in future disregard Parliament by attempting to sue the very House he or she belongs on decisions he or she participated in approving”, the group said.
“More importantly, we wish to appeal to the Union Workers to support this initiative so that more jobs can be created and we can have more Ghanaian participation in the oil and gas industry, adding “we have a great country, together we can make it greater”, it said.
“In making this appeal, we are fully aware that, Parliament before approving the Commercial Agreement, had insisted on the need to allow ongoing projects stay and same approved. Hence, the Takoradi Port will not be completely left out in the provision of support services to the oil and gas industry”, the statement concluded.
On July17, 2014, Parliament approved an agreement made between the Ghana Government and a British company, Lonrho Ports, for the development of an oil and gas Freeport in the Western Region.
Clause 7 of the said agreement bars the Takoradi Port from further expanding its facilities for oil and gas until Lonrho has built its Freeport, recovered all its cost, and made enough profit.
The agreement actually bars all persons or companies from building any oil and gas port facilities in the entire Western Region until Lonrho has recovered its investment and made its profit.
But the five MPs insist that this restriction imposed on a national port like the Takoradi Port is unlawful. They argue in their affidavit that the restriction offends section 5 of the Ghana Ports & Harbours Authority Act, and are praying the court to remove the restriction.
They pointed out that Parliament recently approved a loan of €197 million for the expansion of the oil and gas facilities at the Takoradi Port, and that the port is in the process of securing another US$400 million to support the expansion programme. Imposing this restriction on the port would, therefore, make it impossible for it to repay these loans.
This will collapse the port and render its workers jobless, the MPs claimed.