On The Appointment Of Dr. Ben Asante As Ghana Gas CEO

To our brothers and sisters here gathered, good morning; to the members of the media, welcome to Half-Assini. We appreciate your response to our invitation to cover this press conference.

I believe you are all aware of the recent furore that erupted here in Nzema, following His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s appointment of Dr Ben K.D. Asante as the acting CEO of the Ghana National Gas Company, aka Ghana Gas.

Ordinarily, we would have glossed over it, but we are minded to hold this press conference on account of the erroneous impression being created out there by the actions of three paramount chiefs – out of the seven paramount chiefs that forms the Nzema Maanle Council – that the youth groups, opinion leaders and, to a larger extent, the entire people of Nzema do not accept Dr Asante’s Ghana Gas appointment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are the facts of the matter?

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, on January 30, 2017, when Dr Asante was named as the acting CEO for Ghana Gas, one Mark Asmah Arthur, who described himself as the president of the Nzema Youth Association (NYA), issued a statement in the name of NYA, protesting the appointment primarily because Dr Asante is not an Nzema speaker.

Later on that same day, NYA issued a counter statement denying knowledge of the said Mark Asmah Arthur. NYA did not only dissociate itself from Mr Arthur’s statement, but it also affirmed its belief in and support for Dr Asante as the CEO of Ghana Gas, thus welcoming the President’s appointment.

Again, on February 17, this year, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) communication team in all the three districts of Nzema issued a statement condemning what they described as “malicious attacks on Dr Ben Asante.” They also pledged their support and co-operation for the new CEO of Ghana Gas.

That aside, there have been a good number of ethnic Nzema youth groups and individuals who have come out to endorse Dr Asante’s appointment and expressed co-operation with him.

Therefore, we were surprised and perplexed when on Saturday, February 18, 2017, the three chiefs, led by Awulae Agyemfi Kwame, purportedly speaking on behalf of and for the Nzema Maanle Council, stated at a press conference that the youths and people of Nzema are against Dr Ben Asante’s appointment, and rather want the President to appoint Prof Kaku Sagary Nokoe, an ethnic Nzema for the Ghana Gas top position.

The inability of our revered Awulaemo to state the relevant competencies and abilities that make their proffered Prof Nokoe better qualified for the CEO of Ghana Gas job than Dr Asante amplifies their underlying tribal intensions.

In fact, since their press conference, we have painstakingly monitored both traditional and social media reactions; interacted and consulted with many and varied people in the Nzema communities and, clearly, the three chiefs are alone. The unanimous view of the larger population in Nzema is that they have no issues with the President’s appointment.

We are stating it here on authority that Awulae Attibrukusu III, paramount chief of Lower Axim Traditional Area, and member of the Nzema Maanle Council does not agree with the position taken by Awulae Agyemfi and his two colleagues.

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Likewise, Awulae Amihere Kpanyinli and Awulae Annor Adjaye, paramount chiefs of Nzema East and Jomoro respectively and members of the Nzema Maanle Council have all welcomed Dr Asante’s appointment, contrary to earlier reports that they concerted to the press conference by Awulae Agyemfi.

Chief of Baseke, Nana Bonya Kofi VI, a Senior Divisional Chief of the Eastern Nzema Traditional Area, has described that tribalistic stance taken by Awulae Agyemfi and his group as a “dangerous one” for our country.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, it is apparent from the foregoing that the people of Nzema are not resisting Dr Asante’s appointment to Ghana Gas as the impression was earlier created. It is only the three chiefs who are dissenting. But it is instructive to note that, that brand of tribal chauvinism being demonstrated by our respected Awulaemo is aesthetically ugly, intellectually illogical and practically inefficient, very alien to the well known rich Nzema culture and hospitality.

We, therefore, wish to state it emphatically that the good people of Nzema are not tribal bigots. We have no objection whatsoever against Dr Asante’s appointment.

Let me, at this juncture, avert your minds to the main underlying factor influencing the decision of the three chiefs, as we have gathered.

As I stated earlier, Dr Asante’s appointment was made on January 30, so:

i. Why did it take the chiefs this long while to protest it if indeed they had wanted the President to appoint Prof Nokoe right from the beginning?

ii. Why is it that the three chiefs are the only people protesting Dr Asante’s appointment when industry experts and Civil Society Organisations, including IMANI and the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas (CSPOG), have all hailed Dr Asante’s appointment to Ghana Gas as the best?

iii. At least, there were two other individuals, each from Jomoro and Ellembelle districts, who were also interested in the Ghana Gas CEO position. Why did Awulae Agyamfi and his colleagues ignore the Jomoro and Ellembelle aspirants to proffer Prof Nokoe who comes from the Nzema East district within the jurisdiction of Awulae Agyemfi?

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, from the above questions, isn’t it obvious why Awulaemo are making this last minute protest?

Without prejudice to Awulaemo and the noble Nzema Maanle Council, we wish to point it out in no uncertain terms that such actions by some members of the Nzema Maanle Council makes the Council part of the problems confronting Nzema, if not the real problem bedevilling Nzemaland.

We say so because their solutions that they have been proffering and imposing on the people of Nzema all this while have not yielded the desired results, yet they insist on those ideas.

Here, we cite a few examples among many. In 2003, this same Nzema Maanle Council established the Kwame Nkrumah Education Trust Fund (KNETFund) with the aim of supporting brilliant but needy children and for the improvement of education in Nzemaland. They themselves scouted and assembled what they believed to be the best indigenes of Nzemaland and entrusted the management of the fund to them. The then President, President John Agyekum Kufuor, came to Nzema to launch the fund. We ask them, where is that fund? Today, as I speak to you, that fund is defunct, whiles the children who should have benefited from such a laudable scheme are dropping out of school and wasting away as Okada riders and the females getting pregnant, all because their fathers are not the chiefs.

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When a member of the Nzema Maanle Council threatened secession from Ghana to Ivory Coast as a result of lack of payment of their oil royalties, weren’t both the Petroleum Minister and Ghana Gas CEO at the time from Nzema? Did that solve the Nzema problems?

It is also worth noting that in the erstwhile National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, a good number of native Nzemas served in ministerial, ambassadorial and other high level positions. Did that solve the Nzema problems? So, why are our chiefs insisting that making an Nzema the CEO of Ghana Gas is the solution to the Nzema problems?

The Prof Nokoe that Awulaemo want to foist on Ghana Gas, wasn’t he the Pro-Vice Chancellor and later acting Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in the Northern part of our country? Did the chiefs and people of the North protest his appointment citing tribalism as our chiefs are doing?

The stance taken by Awulaemo is regressive, divisive and corrosive. We do not want to countenance it because of its propensity to heighten tribal tension in our country. We are not tribal bigots. That is not the ideals the founders of our country devoted their lives to.

We the youth of Nzema regret the conduct exhibited by Awulaemo using the Nzema Maanle Council because that attitude is not embedded in our Nzema culture and values being inculcated in us to accept and work with everyone without discrimination and prejudice.

Our great grandfather, the greatest person to have come from Nzema, the greatest personality Ghana has produced and the greatest personality from Africa, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who was the embodiment of the Nzema culture, beautifully demonstrated that a nation does not attain greatness on the back of tribalism, but rather in the arms of nationalism. He thought us that we are one people, one nation with a shared destiny.

These are the ideals we need to take inspirations from, and be dedicated to.

In as much as we admit that development in Nzema here has been very slow despite the abundance of rich resources in this area, we also do not believe making an ethnic Nzema the CEO of Ghana Gas is the panacea.

We are very much convinced that sustainable policies – not positions – are what Nzemaland requires for the accelerated development we seek. Policies that develop the petrochemical industry in Nzema to offer direct employment or ancillary services for the many unemployed residents to earn descent salaries to meet the high cost of living the oil discovery has brought in its wake; policies that improve education facilities in Nzema here and provide scholarships for needy students to expand their knowledge base and acquire relevant competencies for employment into the oil sector; policies that offer apprenticeship and vocational training for the youth who are unable to acquire formal education so that they are also not left out of employment; policies that develop infrastructures in Nzema are what we need.

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That, however, is not to say deserving Nzemas should not be appointed to occupy any position anywhere in the country. We are very much aware President Akufo-Addo has made at least two appointments of people from Nzema to two Boards of State companies, following the appointment of Hon Catherine Abelema Afeku as the Minister for Tourism and Culture. We are proud of them and very much grateful to Mr President. But, like Oliver Twist, we would appreciate more.

Regarding the Ghana Gas CEO position, we couldn’t have agreed more with His Excellency President Nana Akufo-Addo for the appointment of Dr Asante.

Dr Asante, a much sought after Petrochemical Engineer of 25 years work experience, a world-renowned authority on the Gas industry who has worked for reputable oil and Gas companies in 25 countries is the best candidate to transform Ghana Gas to the world-class company we all expect.

It is also worth stating that Dr Asante is the only Ghanaian invited among a handful Africans by the US Department of Energy to contribute to the writing of a book entitled “Understanding Natural Gas and LNG Options.”

Again, with Dr Asante as CEO, Ghana Gas will save funds hitherto spent on consultants, since he himself is the consultant.

We know Dr Asante, a cent pour cent Ghanaian, is a top notch quality. We believe his competence is unrivalled. We know his hallmark is excellence.

It is based on that conviction that we herein add our voice to the appeal by Dr Steve Manteaw of the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas to His Excellency President Akufo-Addo to confirm Dr Asante as the substantive Ghana Gas CEO.

A major appeal we wish to make to Dr Asante is to help set up an industrial park in Nzema, preferably in Jomoro to open up the local economy to create employment opportunities for our people.

We have absolute confidence in him that he will live up to expectations.

Nzema is for Dr Asante. We pledge to give him a hospitable environment devoid of any tribal animosity. The good people of Nzema, right from Axim through Nkroful to Half-Assini, say akwaaba, Dr Asante. You are one of us and we are your people. Together as Ghanaians.

May God bless our country.
We take this opportunity to assure investors, in and outside Ghana, that Nzema is a very safe investment destination. Please take advantage of the various investment opportunities springing up in Nzema and invest here.

Thank you.
David Ackah-Miezah
For more information contact
President Phone: 0242662534
NYAC&D E-mail: [email protected]

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