Opinion : Eyes on The Gambia’s oil reserve

Jan 6, 2021, 1:04 PM

There is widespread news that there is a portion of the Gambia’s offshore oil reserves bordering with Senegal offshore oil reserves which could become a potential source of conflict unless steps are taken now to look into the issue. If this is the case then the two countries should start the negotiations for a Joint Venture in the exploration of the borderline oil resources. Gambians are keenly watching either side for any attempts at annexation of the said oil blocks at the borderline of the territorial waters.

The question for which Gambians are awaiting answers is the state of the country’s oil reserves. The government cannot continue to be silent over such an economic wealth with the potential to transform the country from poverty to prosperity, from low income status to middle or high income status, from poor image to greater international recognition. The problem with the Gambia is the carefree attitudes of most of the politicians and public officials towards transparency and accountability in the system which does not augur well with good governance.

Gambians have a right to know about our oil resources, the locations, the license holders, revenues generated from oil companies, and the terms and conditions under which licenses have been issued to petroleum companies, including the designated offshore oil blocks. The Gambia’s interest is at stake in this oil issue. Therefore, the government cannot limit the rights of Gambians who wish to know about its state of affairs. If the authorities fail to shed light on this issue then we shall make it inevitable to shed light on the issue on the DAY OF RECKONING.

The issues of the exploitation of our water resources and the destruction of our environment have been well articulated by the public. The well-being of Gambians is very much anchored on these economic factors. The exploiters of our economy and their collaborators must be warned that they can run but they cannot hide. It is hoped that by now Africans have learnt lessons of the past regarding the looting of state resources and playing smart over the people who may not have access to information.

The very international agencies and business operators will in the end expose the nakedness of corrupt Africans. The Gambia is in dire need of economic and social uplift. We cannot continue to depend on loans and handouts by partners and friends of the country. The management of the economy and the protection of the national interest is both a national imperative and moral duty of the leadership. The Gambia must necessarily use her experts’ bank to engage in national preparedness and in strategic economic diplomacy to achieve the desired results in safeguarding the country’s offshore oil reserves for national development.

We cannot exercise patience over such an issue when nobody knows what the state of the country’s oil exploration efforts are. The government should clear the air on the widespread news that our oil resources might end up in the hands of another country unless steps are taken sooner rather than later to address the potential conflict zone in the offshore oil reserves between two countries. In my view, the issue is worth the attention of ECOWAS and the UN.

By: D.M. Badjie

Political Commentator