The man whose efforts led to Ghana’s discovery of oil, George E. Owusu, has advised Ghanaians to work with integrity.
This, he said, is what delivered him from the false accusations and grueling investigations he endured from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the FBI in the US in relation to a partnership agreement he had with Kosmos Energy on the oil find in Ghana.
“Please follow your dreams, I didn’t know I was going to be successful so don’t let anybody discourage you. Whatever you want to do, go for it, but integrity must be at the forefront. Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, do the right thing, go through the front door, do it right, build your company, whatever you are doing, build it on solid rock, don’t build it on sand because you will never know when the CID will come knocking,” he sounded this caution in a conversation the host of The Lounge, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo on Friday.
In 2010, Ghana produced oil in commercial quantities for the first time from the Jubilee Fields in the Western region. This feat was attained due to the persistent efforts of Mr. Owusu, who brought in Kosmos Energy, to prospect for oil after years of failed attempts by many companies who pumped millions of dollars in oil exploration in the country.
“Before the oil discovery,” Mr. Owusu narrated, “Ghana was called the graveyard for oil companies because all the people who came here lost money…but after the discovery, they de-risked the country and so many companies started rushing in…We always had a hunch that there was oil in Ghana but nobody could pin-point exactly where until KOSMOS came along.”
A partnership agreement between Kosmos Energy and Mr. Owusu’s company, EO Group stated that the latter would be given 3.5 percent of Kosmos’ share of the oil block. This however led to an investigation, his dismissal as the country manager for Kosmos Energy and the freezing of his assets following what he described as unsubstantiated rumours.
“People made so many noise about how come the government of Ghana has 10% and you alone had 3.5%. I want to tell the world, I want to tell Ghanaians, I want to tell everybody who is ready to listen that my 3.5% did not come out of the Ghana government’s share; it came from Kosmos’ share so those radio commentators who sit on radio and always say ‘yes sir, master’ please I’m telling you, the truth is Ghana government did not lose one iota of whatever was due them,” he clarified.
“There was an investigation. I was interrogated by the CID and the BNI 13 times…They took me to the FBI in the United States because some people thought I had gotten things fraudulently. They proposed 25 charges against me but they couldn’t take it to court. After the humiliation, after I lost my job, after I almost died, the FBI wrote that they found nothing on me,” he recounted.
Despite his experience which he says he does not wish for anybody, Mr. Owusu who now runs a small equity firm in Houston, Texas said he habours no bitterness.
“Bitterness doesn’t get you anywhere. They have a saying that he who laughs last, laughs best. I am not bitter at all. Maybe, genuinely they thought there was something wrong and they were doing their jobs so I’m not going to feel bitter about them but there were some people who were hiding behind the closet, pushing them, telling them what to do and those are the things which were not so good.”
He has since written a book which documents all the events which led to the discovery of oil in commercial quantities in Ghana’s Cape Three Points in the Western region, as well as the aftermath.
Mr. Owusu explained the rationale behind his book saying, “I have documented it here for the sake of my children so that they will know that I am not a crook, their dad is not a thief, their dad did something good for the country and I’m very proud, very, very proud that I’ve been able to do this.”
The Lounge with Kwaku Sakyi-Addo airs live on Starr FM every Friday from 7pm to 8pm and on GHOne TV on Sundays from 8pm to 9pm.