Once again, a Minister in the Government has bared his thoughts on what he has seen going on in the country he has solemnly sworn an oath to serve.
The Minister in question is Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources. Here is a report of what he said: QUOTE Atiwa forest, others are under attack by galamseyers – Abu Jinapor
“The Minister … expressed concern over the persistent destruction of Ghana’s forest reserves by illegal miners. He specifically highlighted the Atiwa forest and other forests in the Eastern Region, as being currently under attack by these illegal activities.
“During the commissioning of an office complex for the Forestry Commission in the Eastern Region, Minister Jinapor emphasized the urgent need to address the issue and protect the forest reserves in the region.
“He called for immediate action to rid the Atiwa forest and other forests of [the activities of] illegal miners, loggers, and other [law-breakers] that pose a threat to the survival of these important natural resources.
“Please rid these forest reserves of illegal miners” (the Minister pleaded.)
He assured the Forestry Commission that [it] would be provided with the necessary tools to combat this menace. He emphasized that no one would be exempt from prosecution, regardless of their status or position.
“You, the Forestry Commission, have our full support. Whether they are high-ranking individuals or ordinary citizens, whether they are political leaders or not, your work is to ensure that all forest reserves in this country are protected,” Minister Jinapor affirmed. UNQUOTE
We are entitled to ask a few questions about the Minister's statement.
The first is this: “Minister, please have you heard of 'Sir John' (the late Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, one of the highest officials of the NPP and once chairman of the Forestry Commission)?
Minister, is it not a fact (revealed by a former colleague of yours in the Government) that 'Sir John' presided over the destruction of many hectares of forest reserves by galamseyers? He couldn't have done it without the knowledge of his fellow members of the then Forestry Commission, could he?
He couldn't have done it without its coming to the notice of the top officials of the Ministry you now head, could he?
Minister, please have you found out whether any of the top officials were involved in Sir John's racket? If you had, what ACTION did you take, or ask your Government to take, about it?
If the top civil servants in charge of the Ministry are the same as those who were there at the time 'Sir John' ruled the roost, and, more important, the system remains as corruptible as it was under 'Sir John', how on earth do you expect things to improve?
Furthermore, Minister, please do you know how many times members of your Government (including your good self!) have publicly announced your intention to end galamsey in this country? Are you gentlemen not aware that when a gramophone record is played again and again, and again and again, it becomes “broken” and people avoid listening to it and longer?
Honourable Minister, as you know, the destruction of forest reserves also KILLS rivers and water-bodies. You know about the approaching, deadly effects of climate change. You know that if we persist in destroying our naturally-endowed water resources, our country will INEVITABLY DIE IN THE LIFETIME OF OUR GRAND CHILDREN, OR EARLIER!
Yet all we you keep hearing from the Government (as you've just done!) is that the Government is determined to end galamsey!
Sir, if you and members of the Government are not tired of hearing promises of that type, your countrymen are!
You are entitled to ask me, Sir, what I would do if I were in your shoes. Well, I am ready to tell you!
First of all, I would declare a state of emergency (with Parliamentary approval). Then I would earmark a sum of money to be applied for by any town or village which declared its intention to resurrect its traditional ASAFO GROUP, as was left to it by its ancestors.
The money would be used exclusively for replenishing ASAFO instruments (such as drums, gong-gongs, castanets, flags etc).
Thus equipped, the ASAFOS, under Asafoakyers and other officers appointed from traditional office-holding families, would be persuaded to mount PATROLS along riverbanks and other vulnerable areas, such as farmlands, threatened by galamseyers.
Mr. Minister, I assure you that no force can withstand MASS ACTION aimed at DEFENDING as vital and important a natural endowment as our drinking WATER.
It will interest you to know that the continued existence, amongst our people, of the spirit of MASS ACTION, was demonstrated only a few weeks ago, by the people of Winneba, during their deer-hunting festival.
The people showed BRAVAERY in abundance, as they went into the bush in large numbers, not caring whether they could be harmed by snakes or thorns.
They crossed deep lagoons and marshland. The impressive thing is that they did all this to commemorate events that occurred long long ago, when they faced deadly threats as they made their way from their homes in the Sahelian region of West Africa to escape enemies who wanted to kill them.
Every village and town in every ethnic group in Ghana, has a festival that marks an aspect of its survival. And they know how to organise themselves to celebrate these events.
All they need is a little bit of encouragement to transform their skills to achieve self-preservation in modern times.
Mr. Minister, you promised Forestry officials “bulletproof vests and other weapons” to aid them in their efforts to fight galamsey.
I assure you that when the people, armed with their ancient means of driving an enemy away, throng the riverbanks at night and at dawn; when “yebo huu” (making a bedlam of noise) to envelope a locality to ensure their right to survive, no bullet-proof vests would be needed.
By CAMERON DUODU