A survey has indicated that while oil-endowed regions in Ghana want the government to create funds dedicated to the regions to cater for their economic needs, a majority of Ghanaians do not agree to the establishment of such funds.
According to Afrobarometer Round 5 survey, a majority from the Western (64%), Volta (64%) and Central (61%) Regions "strongly agree" or "agree" that government should create a fund dedicated to oil regions. Available data indicate that the three regions have hydrocarbon reserves, with active production taking place in the Jubilee field in the Western Region.
But more than half (53%) of Ghanaians interviewed "strongly agree" or "agree" that dedicating funds to resource-rich regions for their development could widen gaps among regions. "However, a large minority (40%) "strongly agree" or "agree" that government should create a fund dedicated to oil regions."
The survey stated that an overwhelming majority of Ghanaians (91%) "strongly approve" or "approve" publication of all contracts between the oil companies and the State. These came out at a briefing on the results of the Afrobarometer Round 5 in Accra last Tuesday. The comprehensive survey resulted from a nationally representative sample of adult citizens.
All respondents were randomly selected and every adult citizen had an equal and known chance of being selected. Face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent's choice were conducted. The survey interviewed 2,400 adult Ghanaians; and a sample of this size yielded results with a margin of error of +2.0% at a 95% confidence level. Field work for Round 5 in Ghana was conducted between May 9 and June 1, 2012. Afrobarometer's work in the country was co-ordinated by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and field work was carried out by Practical Sampling International (PSI-Nigeria/Ghana) in collaboration with CDD-Ghana.
Commenting on the findings of the survey on the management of the oil revenues, Franklin Cudjoe, Executive Director of IMANI Ghana, noted that he appreciated why the oil-rich regions want to retain a certain amount of the resource wealth locally, but he argued for the ceding of property rights for the common good of the country. "If we are calling for equity and fairness, let's share."
Mr Cudjoe suggested that government should rather retain some of the taxes obtained from the oil for the regions instead of creating funds for them. He asked government to encourage the booming of economic activities in these regions.
He said if the government had been publishing the oil contracts, a certain degree of transparency would have been instilled in the management of oil revenues. He advised Ghana to emulate other resource-wealthy West African countries and tax oil operators as much as it could. "We are focusing too much on local content. Local content over what?" he queried.
Reacting to the key outcomes of the survey, Professor Ken Attafuah, Director of the William Ofori Atta Institute of Integrity at Central University College, remarked: "What is intriguing is the strong support for special oil goodies for oil regions. That mentality is very customary... It is also in keeping with our tradition: 'Adie wo fie eye' (to wit, if something is at one's house, it is better).
Prof. Attafuah said it was revealing that there was strong support for the creation of regional funds from the oil revenue in the Ashanti Region while other northern sector regions do not want such funds to be set up. Discouraging the establishment of the funds, the criminologist-cum-lawyer stated: "It is un-nationalistic and it is contrary to what the law provides."
The Round 5 survey focused on a wide range of issues such as civic responsibility, citizenship and identity; central government economic security management ratings; opinions on personal security and safety; the management of oil revenues; and opinions on the political party "foot soldier" phenomenon.
Afrobarometer is a comparative series of public opinion surveys that measure public attitudes towards democracy, governance, the economy, leadership, identity and other related issues. It is made up of an independent, non-partisan, African-based network of researchers. The first round of surveys took place in 1999-2001 in 12 countries. The network is now conducting the Round 5 surveys in up to 35 African countries during 2011-2012.
The purpose of the series is to measure popular perspectives on the social, political, and economic environments in each country where it is implemented across Africa. The goal of the series is to give the public a voice in policy making processes by providing high-quality public opinion data to policy-makers, policy advocates and civil society organisations, academics, media, donors and investors as well as ordinary Africans. There is a standard survey instrument used across all the countries for comparability.