Professor Ernest E. Uwazie of the Centre for African Peace and Conflict Resolution, on Tuesday said Ghana was uniquely positioned to avoid the mistakes that led to the Niger Delta crisis. He said for Ghana to avoid the Niger Delta experience the Government of Ghana must be bold in dealing with corruption and also ensure transparency in the management of the oil revenue.
Prof. Uwazie was speaking at a public lecture organised by the Ghana Association of Certified Mediators and Arbitrators (GHACMA) in Accra. The lecture, which was attended by lawyers, judges, persons from academia and traditional rulers, was on the topic: 93Resolving oil and gas disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Experiences from the oil rich Niger Delta Region of Nigeria".
Prof Uwazie said the discovery of oil in Nigeria unlike Ghana came at a time when that country was grappling with issues such as the post independence era, the civil war and ethnic rivalry.
He explained that the increasing and continuous violence in the Niger Delta stemmed from the exploitation of the youth by politicians in the past to further their selfish and parochial interests after which they discarded them.
Prof Uwazie said as Ghana embarked on its search for the right path to harness her new found oil, she was well advised to learn from Nigeria’s experiences.
He said the discovery of oil in Ghana as in other African countries cam= e with its own inherent issues of ethnicity, the environment, politics, poverty and governance that could transform into economic greed, criminal gangs, illegal arms trade, money laundering, massive exploitation and socia= l disintegration that challenged traditional authority and seriously undermined the nation-state.
He urged Ghana to adopt appropriate dispute resolution strategies such as ADR and a comprehensive long-term policy on peace education that would increase the prospects for the oil industry. He said Ghana must also take steps to manage the rising expectations o= f the people and to initiate moves to mitigate its spill-over effect. Prof Uwazie called for the creation of a legislative machinery and policy framework that would address the environmental, socio-economic assessments and the community interest.
Ghana’s Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Wood, said Ghana’s new found oil and gas posed a new challenge to the country’s legal community in resolving disputes arising out of the sector.
She also stressed the need for legal practitioners to attach much importance to the use of ADR in resolving disputes in the country. Mrs Wood said the ADR is faster, efficient and less cost effective in resolving disagreements compared to the traditional courts where cases drag-on for a long time.
She commended Prof. Uwazie for his commitment and contribution towards Ghana’s ADR process over the years.