Accra, Oct. 20, GNA - President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Thursday acknowledged the roles played by successive governments in securing Ghana’s western maritime boundary.
He said the verdict handed down by the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) was a collective effort.
“This victory could not have been achieved through the actions of one person, one political party or one government. It has been a collective effort, and the important roles played by successive presidents and governments, should not be overlooked, discounted or understated,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said this at a reception he hosted at the Flagstaff House in honour of the legal team that represented Ghana in the three-year-long maritime boundary dispute with La Cote d’Ivoire.
He said the country was grateful to the men and women who were entrusted with the responsibility to ensure that Ghana’s maritime resources, especially its oil fields, were preserved.
“You have helped guarantee not only the possibilities of development, progress and prosperity of our country, but also that of successive generations of Ghanaians yet unborn, who will be beneficiaries of the revenues, hopefully, to be accrued from the commercial exploitation of our maritime resources and potentials,” the President said.
“To each and every one of you, we say ayekoo...Ghana is indebted to you.”
President Akufo-Addo paid glowing tribute to his predecessors, commending the “farsighted” leadership of former President Jerry John Rawlings that led to the establishment of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
He said the GNPC that was set up to be a strategic commercial vehicle to help accelerate the pace for the exploration of oil and gas, and under the leadership of Tsatsu Tsikata, played a pioneering role in gathering, analysing and interpreting data for oil and gas exploration, and beginning to attract other companies to participate in the exploration.
“It was under the leadership of my former boss, the former President of the Republic, His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor, that GNPC was restructured to ensure that it focused on its core activity of exploration, and the promotion of the oil and gas potential of the country,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“Under him, the fundamentals of our macroeconomy were stabilised, enhancing our appeal as an investment destination. A combination of the new fiscal regime and GNPC's promotional activities yielded results, as a number of oil exploration companies invested in Ghana, which led to the discovery in 2007 of the Jubilee Fields, followed by a quick succession of other discoveries, including the TEN fields,” he noted.
The President also recounted how in July 2008, Ghana began preparations for the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, and highlighted the unique role played by the then Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, Prof. Dominic Fobih, who discovered and brought to the attention of President Kufuor, the conditionality of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) approaching deadline of 13th May, 2009.
He noted that in 2010, the late President John Evans Atta-Mills set up a 10-member Ghana Boundary Commission to undertake negotiations with Cote d’Ivoire to delimit the maritime boundary.
“It was in 2014 that my immediate predecessor, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, took the courageous decision to initiate arbitration. Through a Notification and a Statement of the claim, dated 19th September, 2014, Ghana invoked the jurisdiction of ITLOS, after 10 rounds of negotiations between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire had not yielded any result.
“In turning to the Tribunal, Ghana’s primary objective and interest was to secure legal certainty and, thereby, bring finality to a dispute with a valued neighbour,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He said upon assuming office in January 2017, he put together a legal team, headed by Attorney General Gloria Akuffo, to continue with the work that had been done.
The team collaborated with former Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, and some foreign lawyers to secure positive verdict for Ghana.
“It was the co-operative effort of all of them that secured the famous result of 23rd September, 2017, for our country. And, I am glad to see that several of the foreign lawyers have been able to join us for this brief ceremony. Happily for me, it has been during my presidency that Ghana received the joyful news of this victory,” he added.
Ms Gloria Akuffo thanked the President for recognising the dedication, commitment and hard work of the team.