After more than 50 years of prospecting for oil, Ghana’s quest to become an oil-producing country came alive with the launch of the first oil at a colourful durbar of the chiefs and people of the Western Region yesterday.
The event, which brought together the country’s two former Presidents, J.J. Rawlings and J.A. Kufuor, to an official function for the first time in many months, depicted the rich culture and traditions of the people in all the 10 regions.
When they arrived at the durbar grounds, the two former Presidents went round to exchange greetings with the chiefs and people, amid cheers from the crowd. Their presence underlined the beauty of unity in national discourse.
Early in the morning, captains of industry and people from all walks of life had thronged the Takoradi Airport Base of the Ghana Air Force to participate in the historic event.
Thunderous applause greeted President John Evans Atta Mills and his entourage when they arrived at the base for the ceremony. Shortly after the exchange of greetings, the President was flown in a helicopter to the oil platform located about 65 nautical miles on the sea where he symbolically pressed the knob to officially declare the beginning of Ghana’s production of commercial oil.
On his return, the President was welcomed to the durbar grounds, which was decorated in national colours, with dancing and music by an array of entertainment groups, including the Ghana Dance Ensemble, the Noyam Dance and the Air Force Band.
The august audience which attended the ceremony, included Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, a former First Lady, representatives of political parties, ministers of state, the clergy, members of the diplomatic community, top officials of the Jubilee partners, Members of Parliament and academia.
The “Ghanaianess” of the historic programme was also enriched with the presence of traditional rulers from all the various paramountcies across the Western Region dressed in their colourful regalia.
The programme, which was held offshore and onshore simultaneously, was watched on a giant screen mounted at the durbar grounds.
Meanwhile, offices of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) were decorated with the colours of the national flag to announce the celebration of the country’s commercial production of oil.
Workers of the corporation mounted huge speakers and a big television screen to enable the public to witness the national event performed by President Mills to symbolise the commercial production of oil. The workers said they were happy to be part of the historic occasion.
In an interview, two petroleum engineers at the GNPC, Mr Eugene Amissah and Mr Albert London-Nyewan, said Ghana was blessed to have the oil which they described as one of the best in the world.
Mr Amissah said the future was bright, noting, “This is just the beginning and with our training, we should be able to take over and work hard for the future.”
The Principal Human Resource and Administrative Officer of the GNPC, Mr Edward Appiah-Brafoh, said the oil field would have only 120 direct employees but the industry would create indirect jobs in the hospitality industry and the security sector.
He stated that the GNPC would ensure that Ghana achieved maximum result from the oil flow and called on Ghanaians to manage their expectations, since the oil find was only a catalyst for development.