The People of Western Nzema Traditional Area (WNTA) in the Western Region have threatened to pay their allegiance to Cote’ d’Ivoire in order to deprive Ghana of a chunk of its oil resources if the Chiefs and people of the Western Region were not given a share of the oil revenue due them.
The Paramount Chief of WNTA, Awulae Annor Adjaye III, who announced this at the Western Regional House of Chiefs in Sekondi yesterday, during a discussion on the floor of the House, said government’s resolve to deprive the Western Region of its share of the oil revenue would compel his traditional area to make such a move.
According to him, government has turned a deaf ear to several requests made by the chiefs and people of the Western Region regarding oil revenue disbursements since the inception of oil production at the Jubilee Field.
A request for a 10 per cent share of oil revenue as well as royalties which had been made by the chiefs, he said, have all been ignored by government.
That, he said, was unfair adding that his traditional area may therefore pay government back by opting out of Ghana to become part of Cote’ d’ Ivoire.
Ghana is currently in a legal battle with Cote’ d’Ivoire over the maritime boundary earmarking the territorial waters of the two countries.
Cote’ d’Ivoire had argued that where Ghana has found its oil resources including the area covering the Tweneboah-Ntomme-Enyira (TEN) oil field fell within its territorial waters but Ghana has disputed this claim.
The threat of the people of Western Nzema therefore if carried out, could pose serious danger to Ghana’s case, a matter which is currently being adjudicated at the International Tribunal for the law of the Sea (ITLOS).
“So you see, it is unfair for government to say that the oil was discovered offshore and for that matter no chief can make claim for royalties or so. If that’s the case, then why is government saying that where we’ve found the oil is part of Ghana and not Cote’ d’ Ivoire?”, he queried.
He maintained that the portion of the sea adjoining a traditional area was part of that particular traditional area therefore; chiefs were entitled to royalties adding that, the Western Region should also be given a share of the oil revenue to mitigate the negative impacts of the oil on front-line oil and gas communities.
But, even before he could end his statement, Paramount Chief of Essikado-Ketan, Nana Kobina Nketsia V, waded into the discussion, stating that the issue raised by Awulae Adjaye was a very serious matter.
He said although such a move was a dangerous one, from a historical perspective, they could have a good case if they intend to pursue it.
He told Awulae Annor Adjaye: “None of your ancestors have signed any document that, they want Western Nzema to be part of a country called Ghana therefore you may have a good case to opt out”.
He however cautioned that it was a dangerous ground to thread.
Osabarima Kwesi Atta II, Paramount Chief of Cape Coast, and a Member of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), who was a facilitator at the meeting, entreated the chiefs to remain calm and promised to channel their concerns to PIAC.
The meeting was organized by Friends of the Nation (FoN), a Takoradi-based Non-governmental Organization (NGO), for some selected Paramount Chiefs in the Western Region.
It was aimed at updating the chiefs with the work and findings of PIAC.