It is not entirely correct for the NDC’s Communication Directorate to insist that former President Mahama showed enough seriousness and commitment towards the all-important battle against the illegal mining during his tenure in office than President Akufo-Addo.
The fact, however, remains that it was under Mahama’s administration that we saw the influx of Chinese illegal miners in our rural areas, many of whom were bent on stealing our mineral resources, destroying the environment and terrorising the indigenes while Mahama’s administration looked on helplessly.
But in spite of the conspicuous despoliation and denudation, former President Mahama and the rest of NDC apparatchiks were oblivious to the seriousness of the situation and refused to halt the activities of the stubbornly impenitent illegal Chinese miners.
If you may recall, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Manso-Nkwanta, Joseph Albert Quarm, disclosed some time ago that he rejected an amount of $ 1 million as bribe from some Chinese nationals during his fight against illegal mining (galamsey).
“According to him, the Chinese nationals who used some Ghanaians as middlemen tried to use the money to convince him and to enable them continue the illegalities in 2012” (See: ‘I rejected $1million as bribe from Chinese nationals-MP; adomfmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 09/05/2017).
The Member of Parliament for Manso Nkwanta, however, maintained that he took the case to the Ashanti Regional Police Command. However, the police failed to proceed with the matter.
“I was arrested by the police for obstructing the Chinese galamseyers”, the MP disclosed.
“According to him, when he reported the matter to the Ashanti Regional Police Command, the police turned around and arrested him for preserving water bodies from illegal miners in his area”.
In fact, the Manso Nkwanta MP’s chilling revelation gave credence to the former Lands and Natural Resources Minister under Mahama’s administration, Inusah Fuseini’s sensational bribery claim.
It would be recalled that somewhere in April 2017, the former Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Inusah Fuseini, disclosed the presence of a well-oiled network of Chinese influence who are determined to keep the illegal mining business flourishing for their own benefit (See: ‘Chinese delegation attempted to bribe me over galamsey-Inusah Fuseini; myjoyfmonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 03/04/2017).
The Honourable Inusah Fuseini, however, revealed that the Chinese delegation had the temerity to offer him a bribe in the form of a sponsorship of his child to the top schools abroad.
Nevertheless, according to the former minister, he turned down the Chinese delegation’s lucrative offer and did his utmost best to halt the menace of illegal mining.
I, for one, will continue to salute the aforesaid honourable Members of Parliament for showing their patriotism, affection and solicitude towards the wellbeing of Ghana.
The all-important question discerning Ghanaians should be asking then is: who shamefully grabbed the alleged high-powered Chinese delegation’s gargantuan blood money?
Obviously, under the erstwhile NDC administration, the galamsey business was booming despite efforts by a few patriots to halt the menace.
We also heard from a credible source (Kweku Baako Jnr) that somewhere in 2016, a few Chinese illegal miners were arrested by the police but were later released without charge through high-powered interventions.
It was, therefore, not surprising that the illegal miners had the liberty to steal our natural resources, destroy the farming lands, pollute the water bodies with methyl mercury and noxious cyanide and then go scot free during the Mahama’s administration.
In fact, Kweku Baako Jnr’s chilling exposition back then gave maximum oxygen to the Manso Nkwanta’s MP’s story.
According to the MP, he was bizarrely arrested by the police for trying to protect the water bodies from the illegal miners. How bizarre?
Let us admit, though, back then, the illegal miners easily bribed their way through and took advantage of the absence of monitoring and enforcement of the existing laws and regulations.
If that was not the case, how on earth would foreigners seize our countryside, steal our gold and destroy the environment and go scot free?
It was, therefore, refreshing when the forward-thinking, serious and committed President Akufo-Addo prudently placed an interim ban on small-scale mining activities. That was, indeed, the quintessence of massive leadership.
Despite the small scale miners protestations over the temporary ban on their poorly regulated activities, it was, indeed, a pragmatic step to put better data and policies in place to get the sector back on track.
It was against such backdrop that some of us were struggling to get our heads around how and why former President Mahama could oppose Akufo-Addo’s estimable efforts to curb the activities of the conscienceless illegal miners (See: Stop chasing illegal miners with soldiers – Mahama to government; citinewsroom.com/ghanaweb.com, 28/04/2018).
Ex-President Mahama was reported to have grouched somewhat plangently: “it is true that if we don’t do something about it, it will destroy the environment. But we need to apply wisdom. Because we’ve chased young people involved in illegal small-scale mining with soldiers in the past in this country but it didn’t work.”
With all due respect, what does Ex-President Mahama take discerning Ghanaians for? After all, wasn’t he in government for eight years, and, what did he do to halt the apparent menace?
If, indeed, Ex-President Mahama and his NDC government ever deployed the military in their attempts to halt the menace of illegal mining but to no avail, why didn’t they stick to alternative solutions?
So Ex-President Mahama wants to tell the good people of Ghana that eight years in government was not enough to halt a canker such as illegal mining?
Why must he then criticise someone who has been in government for such a short period of time but doing everything humanly possible to protect our environment?
Former President Mahama was recorded moaning bizarrely: “But if we put a blanket ban and send soldiers after the young people that is not the way to go. As you stop illegal small-scale mining, at the same time you must put in place a livelihood package so that as you are displacing people from illegal mining, they have something to do…. But when there is nothing to do but you are just chasing them, shooting them, it is not the way to go.”
In fact, if we were to draw an adverse inference, we can dare state that Ex-President Mahama was suggesting that the security personnel should cease chasing armed robbers with guns and rather offer them alternative livelihoods. How bizarre?
Honestly stating, there is unobjectionable evidence of some galamseyers quitting their jobs and moving to the rural areas to embark on the illegal mining. A criminal shall remain so regardless.
Ex-President Mahama declared: “We [NDC] decided that we will bring a new mining law that will regulate galamsey that persons who do it well will be able to sustain themselves…So immediately, the [Akufo-Addo] government must look at these regulations and come up with good policies so that those who want to do it will do it within the law.”
I could not agree more with former President Mahama. Indeed, better data and policies are needed to get the sector back on track.
But the all-important question every discerning Ghanaian should be asking former President Mahama and his NDC government is: why did you fail woefully to arrest a menace such as illegal mining in eight years in office?
We can neither ignore nor deny the fact that potential economic benefits (employment, tax revenues and development outcomes) can be derived from small-scale mining sector in Ghana.
It is also absolutely true that small-scale mining is a significant contributor to the economic and social well-being of many people and households in rural, remote, and poor communities in Ghana.
However, the way small-scale mining sector is being managed in Ghana, it does not look promising. The sector is being managed abysmally.
Somehow, the laws which govern the small-scale mining sector are confused and inconsistent. Suffice it to emphasise that all the attention is basically being focused on the large-scale mining sector, leaving the small-scale mining sector at a substantial disadvantage.
In addition, the effective implementation of regulations and fortifications towards the developmental potential of the sector must be the topmost importance to the regulating authorities.
It must also be emphasised that societies at large has been both positively and negatively affected by small-scale mining.
The positive effects include the extraction of ores from small deposits or from tailings which provide the rural folks and other small scale miners with sustainable incomes.
On the other hand, the negative effects include, among other things, environmental degradation, water pollution, the release of mercury and other toxic and hazardous wastes into the free environment, and unforeseen social tensions that can lead to civil unrest.
However, on the preponderance of probability, the negative effects outweigh the positive effects, and therefore it was prudent for any serious, committed and forward-thinking leader to put tabs on the activities of the unscrupulous illegal miners.
Disappointing, though, some of us can attest to the fact that the lunatic fringe of the Chinese illegal miners are back in business following the lifting on the ban on the small scale mining.
Given the criminal intent of the illegal miners , we are, more than ever, urgently required our military power to combat the menace of the impenitent nation wreckers who are bent on stealing our natural resources and destroying the environment.
Let us face it, they, the scumbags, are well -prepared and they routinely carry out their illegal activities with military precisions, and can strike as lighting, and as deadly and destructive as molten magma.
In theory, the illegal miners invasion of our country side with a view to forcibly digging our mineral resources, polluting our sources of drinking water, destroying the environment and above all terrorising the natives is tantamount to war.