26.11.2013 Feature Article

A Chat With Hon Samuel Atta Akyea, MP

Lawyer Atta AkyeaLawyer Atta Akyea
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K1 – Koo, I am not at all happy today!
K2 – Ei Koo, what be de matter?
K1 – I have to take an individual to task. And I hate to do that. I prefer to be impersonal when discussing national issues. Because if you pick on an individual, you may do him or her an injustice, inasmuch as you may not know whether the individual has done or not done the things that make you focus on him or her.

-- Koo, now you are being philosophical. I thought you journalists were taught to say what you know and be damned? So what's all this pussy-footing?

-- I take the point, Koo. But I want the guy who is the subject of my enquiry, Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, MP, to realise that I am only writing to remind him that Akyem Abuakwa South, his constituency, is in serious danger of actual physical extinction, and that I have searched the Internet to see whether he has made his voice heard about the constituency's troubles.

-- And?
-- I've found nothing so far!
-- Okay, what are the troubles?
-- Koo, have you heard of the Birem River?
-- Of course, I have heard of the Birem River. It is the national River– if there is such a thing – of Akyem Abuakwa. The late Kwasi Wusu Akyem, one of the first radio stars in the Gold Coast of the 1950s, used to sign himself on the air as, “Akyemkwaa a menom Birem!” (The son of Akyem who drinks the water of Birem River). He popularised Birem's name a lot.

-- Ahaa! Yes – Birem is the main source of water at Kyebi, the capital of Akyem Abuakwa. Birem is also the River which the Akyems believe contains their soul – they observe sacred ceremonies, during their annual Ohum Festivals, (Ohumkan and Ohumkyire) that commemorate the emergence of the Akyem peoples from the River. (Anthropologists teach that when a people state that they came to where they are residing at present by emerging from the earth, or descending from the sky, or coming out of a river, then it means they are autochthonous (they did not migrate from anywhere else).

-- Wow! You dey inside for anthropology, too?
-- Only small-small. Look, the important issue is this: Birem has been practically killed off by galamsey operators!

--You are joking?
-- Go to Kyebi and see. The galamsey people have turned the mighty Birem into a series of mud-pits. Even Bunso, the place where all the ancient sacred ceremonies take place to celebrate Ohum, is in danger. Let me quote to you, what the chief of Bunso said – in 2009! – that is, a good four years ago:

Quote: “Illegal mining activity along the Birem River in East Akyem, in the Eastern Region, is making the river unsafe for domestic purposes. The chief of Bunso, Barima Adjabeng Nti II, told The Ghanaian Times that the river, which is the only source of water for drinking and other domestic activities in the area, was gradually becoming a death trap because of the operations of the miners in some parts of the river.

“Barima Nti said that certain traditional species of fish which the Akyem communities sometimes prided themselves with, were also dying out because of the use of chemicals in the operations of the miners. He mentioned the communities affected by the operations of the galamsey activities as: Atukrom, Sagyimase, Fisher, Bunso and Osino. He said that River Akusu, a tributary of the Birem River which passes through Saaman and Juaso, had also been affected and that many people had been complaining of severe stomach-ache and headaches nowadays in the area”. Unquote

-- Koo, this is serious. I know that the Birem is not directly used by the people of your own town, Asiakwa, but they too have been affected, have they not?

-- Koo, you took the words out of my mouth. The river there, a tributary of Birem, is called Supong. It has become a muddy trickle full of greenish algae. And that is why I am on Mr Atta Akyea's back today. He is our MP, and he ought to call a press conference at Asiakwa, attended by TV, radio and the newspapers, to highlight what is going on there for the whole country to see. He must, in fairness, also study the situation in other river basins, such as Pra and Ankobra, and the Oti, and start a huge petition in Parliament, urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ministry of Works to undertake a study, as a matter of urgency, to see how the endangered rivers can be dredged and revived. Engineers can do anything these days, and so long as the rains come, the rivers can be restarted in their journey of giving life to the people. But if the MP in the area is asleep, nothing will happen.

-- Didn't Atta Akyea inherit the constituency from Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo?

-- He did! And that's what makes his inaction so glaring. A dynamic, high-profiled chap like Nana Addo would have blown the calamity sky-high ages ago!

-- Well, you are giving Atta Akyea an opportunity to show what he's worth…

-- Oh yes, Koo, yes!. We shall study his reaction under a microscope. More important, the people of the constituency will be watching him with eagles' eyes from now on. As for me, he can count this article as Number One! I have been writing about this subject all over the place, but no MP has said a word about it, as far as I know. Now that I have taken it directly to Mr Atta Akyea's doorstep, I shall see whether anything happens.

And other “Honourable” MPs will soon see whether I am going to accept the fact that they sit down and watch the country going to the dogs without taking any meaningful action, within the limits of their Standing Orders, to bring the Government to book. Sometimes, one wonders whether there is a Parliament in Ghana at all.

-- No Questions asked in Parliament for days on end.

No Private Members' Motions.
No “Select Committee” enquiries!
No petitions to the executive.
What at all do they think they are being paid for, eh, Koo?

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