One of the fastest ways to change a country’s fortune for the better is the discovery of oil reserves. This has been known to change many countries and transform them from poor countries into middle income countries and from thence to the level of rich countries.
However, there are dangers associated with the discovery of oil as well. In the first place is the issue of not finding a credible and trustworthy exploration company. There are many companies who will pounce like wolves with false promises only to get their hands on the wealth of the nation. In such cases, they will benefit more while the host country and her people will be left poorer for it.
The other issue is on the area of security. Many countries descend into civil strife due to the problems caused mostly by the inequalities that are caused by the uneven distribution of the wealth accruing from the oil revenue. The government must ensure that the wealth accruing from any oil discovery and exploration must be utilized to better the lives of the citizenry.
In addition to seeking to find the right, credible and honest company therefore, government has to ensure that the security is up to the task. Security is a very important component of development particularly when we talk of wealth and things that produce wealth. Many a time, we have seen countries discover oil and instead of changing the lives of the people for the better, plunged them into chaos.
Another area of concern on the issue of oil discovery and exploration is the environment. Oil exploration is notorious in destroying the environment in a country. Steps must be taken therefore to ensure that whichever company is given the contract to explore the oil we have in our country must have a good record of protecting the environment. Natural resources like oil or any other are meant to better the lives of the people who live in the area or region in which it is found. We have heard of regions in particular countries rich in oil, where the locals scavenge for fuel in leaking pipes thus sometimes many lose their lives when there is accident. We do not want that to happen in our country.
In order to ensure that all this is achieved, government must ensure transparency and make sure that whatever agreement is reached should be for the benefit of the Gambian people as a whole. If there is no transparency as to how the wealth is accruing and how it is being utilized, it brings grudges in the hearts and minds of the people which will be a recipe for civil strife in our small but peaceful country.
We trust that the new government will ensure that they strike a deal and sign an agreement which is most beneficial to all Gambians.