During a courtesy call on him, recently, by Mr. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, at his Ofori-Panyin Palace, in the Okyeman capital of Kyebi, in the Eastern Region, The Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin, II, was reported to have informed Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh that the decision by the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to relabel the deleterious practice of the environmentally destructive small-scale illegal mining or Galamsey as a legally acceptable “Community Mining Program” was decidedly inexcusable and inescapably incompatible with the otherwise auspicious implementation of the unarguably sustainable and progressive policy initiative of Planting for Food and Jobs for some two years now (See “Okyenhene ‘Fights’ Nana Addo Over Community Mining Program” AbcNewsGh.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/30/19).
According to The Okyenhene, the suavely and patently inadvisable relabeling and mischievous repackaging of the nationally odious old-time Galamsey activity, largely the breastwork of greedy and criminally minded local corporate environmental predators and their overseas counterparts of intransigent and unconscionable economic saboteurs, was inimical to the long-term development of not only the Akyem-Abuakwa Traditional State but, in fact, the country as a whole.
Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin ought to know what he is talking about because not only has his territory been among the most Galamsey-devasted territories or lands in Ghana, at least per the unflattering testimony of a gleeful and nose-thumbing former President John Dramani Mahama, The Okyenhene has also had quite a slew of close calls for his head in recent years, largely having to do with vigorous attempts by some of his own kinsmen and clansmen, as well as kinswomen and clanswomen, to have him de-stooled for, allegedly, not having done enough to halt the predatory and environmentally destructive activities of Galamseyers. Indeed, even as I write, most of the hitherto pristine waterbodies that used to supply potable water to the inhabitants and residents of not only Okyeman but the Greater-Accra Metropolitan Area as well, are no longer drinkable nor consumable without expensive chemical treatment by water-filtration and purification plants.
As well, the very notion of having coveys of deeply entrenched or hardcore Galamseyers professionally trained and/or retooled to supposedly ensure that the best practices in mining technology and culture are used to mitigate the negative impact of Galamsey on the environment is inherently untenable and a scandalous misnomer, especially when one also factors into the equation the fact that, to-date, the Government has not been able to significantly bring the pernicious impact of Galamsey under control. Which simply means that a critical mass of some of the national security personnel deployed to facilitate the definitive halting of this injurious practice have actually compounded the problem in a remarkable number of instances, by the unconscionable collection of kickbacks – a la Mahama-Kanazoe Ford Expedition payola style – in exchange for the criminal tutoring and guidance of these human predators vis-à-vis the best means of successfully carrying out their environmentally suicidal activities under the proverbial radar, that is, without getting caught or arrested and being made to pay the price to the fullest extent mandated by law.
It is, indeed, on the preceding count that one cannot but unreservedly agree with Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin, II, that the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party cannot realistically hope to achieve any remarkable success with its “Feed Ghana” or Planting for Food and Jobs program, by curiously and inadvisably pairing up the latter with the exact opposite objective that is the Galamsey industry. More so, when there already exists in the country a well established and far more environmentally responsible professional mining companies whose employees are far better educated and more skillfully trained in the commercial extraction of the country’s mineral resources, with the least level of negative environmental impact.
Even more insulting to the intelligence of the Ghanaian citizenry is the rather facile idea that, somehow, the diddly number of jobs created by the so-called Community-Mining Program is enough to make up for the massive long-term negative environmental impact of relabeled Galamsey, the widely alleged first-rate training of these human predators by hi-tech specialists at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa, notwithstanding. Small-scale mining in Ghana is, indeed, dangerously akin to the nuclear weapons-production industry. It is an activity that can only be seriously countenanced as a cottage industry by a government that is hell-bent on turning our otherwise globally remarked and admirably recognized peaceful country into a Somali- or Afghan-type of war zone.
I hope The Okyenhene has the ears of Jubilee House. Indeed, the least that the Akufo-Addo Administration can do, vis-à-vis The Okyenhene’s passionate appeal for the total prohibition of even scientifically and environmentally friendly Galamsey of the relabeled kind in the Akyem-Abuakwa State, is to pay sedulous attention to the recent history of illegal small-scale mining or Galamsey in the area and promptly declare Okyeman a “Protected Territory,” where small-scale mining in any shape or form has absolutely no place whatsoever.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
July 30, 2019