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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Columnist: Solomon Mensah

Talking Drum: Freeing Aisha Huang, may thunder fire Nana Addo’s government!

A day before my traveling from Sunyani, the capital of Bono Region, to Accra, I promised myself that I would have a good meal. Being the last born of ten children, I don’t struggle for food whenever I go on a visit in that region. So, I ate bits and pieces of foods that came my way.

Ironically, when I promised myself of that eating spree, I knew my stomach could not stand [hot] pepper for a second. Yet, probably out of madness, I ate pepper-induced soups. It was a Saturday in 2014. The following morning, just when the driver of our Yutong bus horned that we were good to go, my stomach started dancing. “Yehowa [God], do I get down!?” I asked my confused mind.

I decided I will soldier on as the urge to attend nature’s call abruptly subsided. Then, after we passed the Tyco City Hotel on the Sunyani-Kumasi Road, the whole uncomfortable experience revived. When we got to Bechem, now in the Ahafo Region, I got down to use the washroom at a lorry station there. However, luck eluded me. They had locked the washroom with the supervisor of the place nowhere to be found.

I got back into the bus, bought a soap named SDAfo? Samina that a man advertised in the bus when we got there [Bechem]. I had for long heard of the soap’s efficacy so I didn’t hesitate buying it. I needed to soak it and drink the solution as that would tame my stomach from further acrobatics. It was then that I got to know that when one was in serious trouble, the mind usually went on vacation.

“Why don’t you buy a sachet of water, drink a bit of it and cut it [sachet] large enough so you put the soap in it and get your solution?” a woman who sat by me and witnessed my ordeal told me. That sense was pumped into my head at Abrepo in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, about 10 minutes before the driver could park at a fuel station for me. Mind you, from Sunyani to Kumasi is about 122 km. The rest of the story is history.

Having passed through this experience of promises that one knows it is hard to keep- as I promised my stomach- and my mind basically going blank thereafter, I don’t really blame President Akufo Addo’s led NPP government.

They seem to have that ‘runny stomach’ hence running here and there and mostly sounding confused.

The New Patriotic Party made so many promises to Ghanaians before election 2016 that they are now trying very hard to keep. You remember the one village, one dam? One district, one factory? Free SHS [which is somewhat satisfactorily implemented]? One million dollars per constituency among a host of others and its quest for infrastructure. That [infrastructure], which they jabbed former President John Dramani over.

“Infrastructure development under the Mahama-led NDC government has been characterized by massive corruption through contract overpricing, opaque and shady contracting processes, and gross abuse of the sole sourcing provisions of the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663),” the NPP said in its 2016 manifesto.

Today, in 2019, did the NPP not equally sole source the freedom of actively engaging in illegal mining to the Chinese Galamsey Queen Aisha Huang? Did they not whisk her away from our law court, where she stood trial, and deported her to China because they went cup in hand to that country for some ‘peanuts’? And, can we fault those who say the Nana Addo-led government sold Ghana to China for an amount of $2 billion?

Can we ask how much the Galamsey Queen made in mining our gold? Could we have made use of that worth of gold? no matter how small or huge its value rather than letting freely her go with it and later we going back to her country for assistance? Are we really serious?

When one ponders over these questions and remembers that the government in power has been making so much noise on its ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ mantra then you realise that there is absolutely no hope for this country of ours. Our cocoa is basically not ours. Gold? Bauxite? Timber? So, we cannot sit down as a nation and own our destiny as China did and is doing?

“We have a very good relationship with China. The main company that is helping develop the infrastructure system in Ghana is Sinohydro, it is a Chinese Company. It is the one that is going to help process our bauxite and provide about $2 billion to us. So when there are these kinds of arrangements, there are other things behind the scenes. Putting [Aisha Huang] in jail in Ghana is not going to solve your money problem. It is not going to make you happy or me happy,” the Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo is reported to have said at a townhall meeting in the US.

In my estimation, the freeing of Aisha Huang is the greatest betrayal I have ever seen as a Ghanaian and an act of brazen wickedness by the Nana Addo-led government. Why do you terrorize your own people who got themselves involved in illegal mining [Galamsey] and pamper a Chinese national caught in the same act because of a deal with Sinohydro? Was it because students of international relations say such is right in their books?

Headlines in relation to the Operation Vanguard’s task had been screaming in the past years. “10 Excavators Burnt In Anti-Galamsey Operation,” Daily Guide reported on August 2, 2017 with Citinewsroom reporting on July 20, 2018 that, “41 illegal miners arrested by Operation Vanguard” among others. Clearly, government was vehemently punching the throats of the [Ghanaian] illegal miners. But, unknown to them [the miners], their tormentor was but a toothless bull dog who would kowtow to a command from China.

Mr. Osafo Marfo unashamedly added that: “The most important thing is that we established regulations and we are protecting our environment. That is far more important than one Chinese woman who has been deported back to her country.”

But, will the NPP be protecting our environment with its deal with Sinohydro? If so, why has the Non-Governmental Organization, Arocha Ghana, persistently told government and its Chinese counterparts to stay away from the Atewa Forest?

The Atewa Forest, we are told, provides water to over five million Ghanaians and it is said to be the headwater for three key rivers in Ghana being the Densu River [flowing into the Weija Dam as it supplies water to a huge number of residents in western part of Accra], the Ayensu River and the Birim River.
Surprisingly however, the NPP in its 2016 manifesto says: “We will comprehensively protect our water catchment areas, through the Clean Rivers Programme (CRP).”

If despite the cacophony of noises the NPP made on the Gitmo 2 saga while in opposition, it does not find anything wrong freeing Aisha Huang, then I pray unto God to let the cry of the Ghanaian galamseyer fall on Nana Addo’s government.

Like the woman in dire of a child who sleeps naked at night, Nana Addo’s government stands readily ‘naked’ before the world inviting them for a shameful bilateral intercourse so it gets some amount of money to finance promises made to Ghanaians.

Anyway, if I were a galamseyer, I would arm myself, go out there and mine and meet the Operation Vanguard team head-to-head. After all… ‘all die be die.’