Accra, Ghana (PANA) – The historic commencement of oil production on Wednesday from the Jubilee Oil field offshore, the west coast of Ghana and the release of the controversial Wikileaks diplomatic cables on Ghana dominated the media here this week.
The newspapers also had space for the signing on Tuesday of a US$ 10 billion housing deal between the Ghana government and South Korean company, STX Korea, under which 200,000 houses would be built.
“Oil era dawns- President to press first knob,” was the headline of the state-owned Daily Graphic on Tuesday.
It said President John Evans Atta Mills would perform a single but significant ceremony at Cape Three Points in the Western Region(tomorrow) to mark the dawn of the era, when Ghana joins the league of global oil producers.
The Graphic's headline on Thursday read: “Momentous day for Ghana - Oil flows”. The story said history was made Wednesday when Mills symbolically turned the wheels to officially signify the beginning of oil production on a commercial scale at the Jubilee Field.
The Ghanaian Times had the headline, “Hurray!!! the Oil flows”, and the story said Ghana on Wednesday made history by joining other oil producing countries when the President turned the wheel for the first oil to flow into the production train.
“Today is a special day in the lives of Ghanaians; as we are pouring the first oil, let’s give thanks to God and enjoy. After a long wait this day has come,” the President remarked.
This event, which took place simultaneously on the Floating Processing Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, Kwame Nkrumah, 60 kilometres offshore Cape Three Point in Western Region and the Takoradi Air Force station, will enable Ghana to pump 120,000 barrels of oil per day in the next six months from the initial rate of 55,000 bpd pumped initially in November this year.
It is expected that the first tanker of oil from the Jubilee Field would be exported in January 2011.
The newspaper said the President urged Ghanaians to work hard to achieve success with the oil, adding that those in leadership positions had a special responsibility to ensure that “the oil becomes a blessing and not a curse”.
The pro-opposition Chronicle had the headline “We Rejoice", saying in the story that an overjoyed President Mills turned the wheels for the official production of oil in commercial quantity and proclaimed: “We rejoice in the oil find.”
Another pro-opposition newspaper, Daily Guide, said the first oil, ushering Ghana into the global oil-producing club, was characterized by joy and excitement amidst singing and dancing with high expectations among Ghanaians that revenue from the oil could be a catalyst for accelerated national development.
It said by moving from discovery to production in 40 months and pouring Ghana’s first oil, Wednesday represented the fastest ever full-scale deeper-water development with full pressure support.
The Daily Guide's headline on the Wikileaks cables read ”Cocaine Barons use VVIP lounge”.
The story said while President Mills was publicly submitting to a body search at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra shortly after assuming office, to signify his battle readiness for drug war, he suspected some of his men might have become involved in the drugs trade and therefore wanted them searched “under cover”.
“The Executive Secretary of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), Yaw Akrasi Sarpong, reportedly told the Americans that certain pastors, bank managers and their wives also used the VIP lounge, despite suspicions that they were trafficking drugs,” the newspaper reported.
Mr. Sarpong was also quoted to have asked "how $700,000 mansions could be built in the poor region adjacent to the main Ghana-Togo border crossing” and “how a single Nigerian woman could buy large parcels of beach front property but that no one questions the source of her funds.”
The Graphic had the headline “US thoughts on drugs and politics in Ghana leaked.”
The story said although Ghana became the centre of the new cocaine transit zone in West Africa, the government seemed to focus more on small time dealers and couriers.
It said a confidential report from the US Embassy in Accra on 21 December, 2007 noted that US contacts in both the police service and President's Office had said they knew the identities of the major barons but they had not said why they had chosen not to arrest them.
“A Police Service contact told us the Government of Ghana (GOG) does not have the political will to go after the barons. This official and others close to the President have also told us that they cannot trust anyone when it comes to narcotics.”
The newspapers also carried government's reaction to the Wikileaks with the Times headline saying “I trust my team.”
It said President Mills believed in his appointees in his effort to make Ghana a “no transit” point for narcotics and reaffirmed his determination to deal with anyone found wanting, according to the laws of the country.
The Graphic's headline read: “No waver in fight against narcotics”, with the story saying the government has given the assurance that it will not waver in its commitment to the fight against narcotics, “regardless of the threats posed by the Wikileaks diplomatic cables on Ghana.
-0- PANA MA/BOS 18Dec2010