Monday, August 29, 2011

Amnesty: Reversing the Resource Curse

Modern Ghana
29 August 2011

Amnesty: Reversing the Resource Curse
By Alabo Dickson
The remedies for resource curse are the diversification of the by investing the oil revenues in industry, manufacturing and agriculture. This policy option has yielded dividends in Venezuela and Iran. Recently, the federal government established the Sovereign Petroleum Trust Fund. Such an independent fund exists in Norway and Alaska. The funds are deployed for the development of infrastructure in a transparent manner. In Nigeria, monies accruing from crude oil above the projected prices are declared as excess crude oil “funds” and shared among the three organs of government without spill-over effect on the real sectors of the economy. More importantly, there is need to entrench transparency in government expenditure. Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe; Trinidad - Tobago, Chad, Garbon, Azerbaijan and 51 governments have subscribed to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) template, Nigeria lacks the political will to implement transparency. The implication is that host communities are neglected as the proceeds of crude oil are not disclosed. Again, Multinational Corporations shy away from their corporate Social Responsibility because of the existing laws.

Now, the Amnesty Programme has opened a fresh page in reversing the resource curse. The tokenistic approach to developing the Niger Delta has changed. It will be recalled that since the dawn of the globalization, knowledge has been identified as king. Thus unlike the development of infrastructure, the Amnesty Programme, AM, concentrates on the building of human capital, which was sorely lacking in the Region.

The Programme Chief Hon. Kingsley Kuku has adopted a three-pronged approach. Firstly, he has mounted a vigorous campaign to raise of a class of intermediate manpower in under-water (Algon welding), piloting, seafaring and marine engineering. Most of the skills and vocations include: auto mechanics, Boat building, Safety programmes and ICT. Secondly, the Amnesty is bent on sponsoring Niger Delta Youths who are interested in acquiring higher education. Accordingly, the Programme has fully paid the fees of ND Students studying in the UK. Ukraine; Russia, South Africa and the United States. This kind gesture is to complement the various scholarship programmes embarked upon by the various States. Thirdly, the overriding objective is to train an army of middle and high caliber manpower to provide services in the various oil, gas and agro-allied industries. When these people are fortified with skills, the Region will not depend on crude oil alone as a source of foreign exchange.

The fact that the Amnesty programme is designed to diversify the economy is a unique development that appears to be reversing the Resource Curse in the ND Region.

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