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Folks, there is much happening in this Akufo-Addo government that irritates me a lot and that proves why my persistently damning it for its lack of propriety and urgency in handling national affairs is apt. In just 15 months, it has fumbled and bumbled, pandered to needless public sentiments, and set itself up for much ridicule.
We will not bother ourselves to raise the various instances of the flip-flopping and plain foolery; but we will be bold enough to write it off as a waste-pipe. I care less what it is bragging about in terms of free SHS or what-not. I see those initiatives as the seed that will blossom into worse headaches in future because they are not established on a sound foundation. It’s all political gimmicks at work.
In retrospect, we may ask: What didn’t the British colonial administration do for the Gold Coast only for it to be despised and kicked out for Ghana’s independence? What didn’t Nkrumah do only to be torpedoed? How about his successors? The list is really long, not tall.
That is why what Team Akufo-Addo is revealing doesn’t surprise me. It annoys me and proves to me how hollow it is. Only a sick government will turn its back to history. As I gathered from a CNN news report, whoever will not remember the past is condemned to repeat that past. And the past in Ghana’s case isn’t blissful.
While concentrating on the “rally ground talk” all this while as if it is still competing with the NDC for political power, it can’t set its priorities right to assuage doubts and fears that it is not well-cut-out for the tasks confronting it as far as out-performing its predecessors is concerned. While it takes cosmetic measures to intensify its rabble-rousing, the living conditions of the people worsen.
So far, none of its policy initiatives is without hiccups. The free SHS programme has given much headache just as all others have done. Of course, no one expects a perfect approach to solving problems, knowing very well that perfection is not a human quality; but, at least, commonsense dictates that the government should hasten slowly in the way it does things in a four-year tenure, hoping that it will succeed and justify why it should be retained in power.
From what has happened thus far, I am tempted to conclude that Team Akufo-Addo is either overly confused or simply incapable of making its yes be yes and its nay be nay. Many instances of flip-flopping have already occurred; nothing seems more ridiculous than what the government claims to be doing against the “galamseyers” and what is happening on the ground.
(We recall here the involvement of the Ashanti regional Chair of the NPP in “galamsey” and the disruption of that enterprise by the Mahama administration that so irked Wontumi as to wish death and damnation on the Mahama family. We read news reports that he had filed a case regarding “judgement debt” and was to be paid billions of Cedis on that score. Is he back in business under Akufo-Addo?).
It must be clear to all intelligent observers of the scene under Akufo-Addo that there is much double-dealing going on. Too much of the “Janus effect“, where double faces operate to the advantage of those pulling strings.
Unlike the openness of the “Kayayei” in Kumasi who openly donated their meager earnings as their widow’s mite to support Akufo-Addo at Election 2016 (and for which Akufo-Addo took the cosmetic measure by eliminating daily tolls wrongly characterized as taxes paid by them), the secret contributions of the “galamseyers” were not reported.
In its handling of affairs in this “galamsey” debacle, the Akufo-Addo government has proved to be not only short-sighted but also terribly sick. It lacks conscience and is bereft of anything creditable.
Here is a timeline of the government’s lousiness, clumsiness, and laziness, summed up as sickness:
- Before Election 2016, Akufo-Addo had played on the sentiments of the “galamseyers” to assure and re-assure them at several forums that his government would sustain their industry and not act against them. It turned out to be false, based on how he empowered the Task Force to rout the “galamseyers”. How many haven’t been arrested and equipment destroyed?
- Peter Amewu, sector Minister, had told Ghanaians when the routing of the “galamseyers” began that the government would invest 500 million Dollars in land reclamation and engage those “galamseyers” displaced by the stern disruption of their activities by the government’s draconian measures so they could fend for themselves. That message appeared to be the government’s way of finding alternative jobs for the perpetrators. Has the government begun that project yet?
- Much public anger about the devastation of water bodies emerged, and horrifying images of the impact of “galamsey” on such water bodies as Ankobra, Pra, Birim, Offin, etc., angered Ghanaians. Environmentalists cringed. The government itself expressed much anger at such devastation and vowed to rid the country of “galamsey”. What is the situation now? Nothing has changed.
- The rush to arrest the Chinese undesirables fingered as heavily involved in the “galamsey” sector caught much public attention, especially when the main architect (Asia Huang) was being dealt with to the point of prosecution. What has happened to that case? Brushed under the rug!!
- A complicated scheme to render the operations of the Task Force dealing with the “galamseyers” as complicit in the illicit industry has now given us to know that all that is happening is a ruse. As published yesterday, some members of this Task Force were busily negotiating with the “galamseyers” for their share of the booty. Such a Task Force is a mere tool being manipulated for personal gains. Who cares? Certainly, not this Akufo-Addo government.
Let’s settle down, folks. The most immediate issue to turn my crank for this opinion piece has come from this news report: “Galamsey ban to be lifted soon—Deputy Minister” (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Galamsey-ban-to-be-lifted-soon-Deputy-Minister-643360).
Thieves, liars, and murders!!!
What really annoys me is this aspect of this idle-hand’s claim: “We have trained both small scale miners and galamseyers and have also sent people to China for training on Natural Resources Management”, she revealed. “We are left with the auditing of sites of small scale companies to go”.
Aaaaagh!! Which “galamsey” operators have been sent to China for training? The owners of the sites where the illegal mining activities occur or the actual miners digging trenches and just devastating the environment? At whose expense? How many of them were sent to China when and why China, particularly?
Folks, there is a lot happening at this point to confirm that these NPP people in power are tearing things apart for the bad of Ghanaians. And to imagine that the government can’t even be sincere to admit its failure in tackling this “galamsey” menace makes me want to puke.
Previous governments couldn’t either, but none of those party leaders seeking political power stooped so low as to identify with the ‘galamseyers” to make promises that turned out to be an albatross as is hanging on Akufo-Addo’s neck.
There is more to worry about, folks. Another news report has it that “The government has estimated that $400 million will be needed to dredge and clean the heavy mercury content in the River Ankobra in the Western Region due to the activities of illegal small-scale mining”. (See https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Government-needs-400-million-to-clean-Ankobra-River-643341).
Such a huge sum for the reclamation of the River Ankobra alone? How about the others? And where will that money come from? Borrowing to worsen the country’s debt problem?
This Akufo-Addo government is in a hole and digging itself more down the pit. Why is it so? Well, Akufo-Addo has said several times that he is in a hurry to do things. And he is doing things to mess up all the more what his predecessors did to push Ghana down the drain. Too much nonsense going on.
On that score, then, many reasons support my characterization of this government as worse than super incompetent (John Mahama was charitable in characterizing it as “super incompetent” because it is worse than that. It is sick to the marrow.).
Otherwise, why would it attempt legalizing “galamsey” when it hasn’t yet solved the problems that engendered the illegal mining industry or reclaimed the vegetation and soil destroyed by such an industry?
And is there any record at all of those engaged in “galamsey” so the government could identify them to deal with? No database exists; nothing is officially known about who is engaged in “galamsey” to reach out to. No plan of action exists on controlling the situation.
The ad hoc measure by way of “Operation Vanguard” is a short-cut that has boomeranged now that we know how members of that Task Force are going about extorting money from the “galamseyers” to turn a blind eye to their activities or whatever else. It is the typical Ghanaian case.
A more serious approach toward solving the problem won’t be done through this “Task Force” nonsense but through a well-planned and coordinated scheme to involve traditional rulers and the various leaders in the communities where “galamsey” exists so a global approach could be adopted.
What it means is that the fight against “galamsey” won’t be isolated from the local communities experiencing the negative effects. Involving them could be the best way to clamp down on “gallamsey”.
Establishing a so-called “Task Force” and deploying it to those communities is misplaced. Only those in the communities who know who is doing what and when can help solve the problem. Let’s not forget, though, that “galamsey” rakes in money; and anybody who can profit from it (be that person local or foreign) will look out for loopholes to exploit. A non-sick government will do more groundwork to know how to tackle the problem than Akufo-Addo has initiated. Therein lies the sickness.
A sick government of the kind led by Akufo-Addo will pretend not to know what we are dealing with because eyes are focused on identifying loopholes for its operatives to exploit so they can prop up the political ambitions of the party. Poor souls, Ghana’s woes!!
I shall return…
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Sunday, April 15, 2018