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Opinions of Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Columnist: George Sydney Abugri

‘Kwame Quixote’, gold thieves and the BNI

When was the media When was the media

Jomo, there is this character who is running around huffing, puffing, panting and sweating all over the place, claiming to be hot on the trail of thieves stealing Ghana’s precious stones and metals from the bowels of the earth. The impression you get, is that of a quixotic crank imagining himself to be a celebrity of sort leading a gallant crusade against the unauthorized mining of gold.

Everyone ought to stick to his calling: A cobbler should stick to mending shoes and the bush meat man to hunting game. The fishermen’s business is to venture out across turbulent seas and bring back fresh tilapia out of the ocean depths for us to grill and eat. It is the duty of the police to catch every thief in town and pastors to show us the way to God and Heaven, anaa...?

This self-perceived star crusader against illegal mining in Ghana is supposed to be busy overseeing the production of packaging materials for consumer products, the publication of books and newspapers, the operations of a national courier service of rather dubious profitability and superintending the technical, engineering, financial, commercial and human resource administration of a public organization.

The National Security establishment seems unaware or unconcerned that this man’s activities make him a security threat. Last year, ‘Kwame Quixote’ squandered a lot of corporate time and resources travelling around the country, going as far afield as the towns in the Upper East and Upper West Regions, claiming to be organising ‘town hall meetings” with the public in connection with the 2016 elections.

Is that the responsibility of the managing director of a state corporation which is supposed to be engaged largely with commercial operations? Is it not the Ministry of Information, the Information Services Department and the Electoral Commission which is supposed to be holding such forums?

He pursued his clandestine agenda in such a manner as to give the impression that it was the newspaper owned by the state corporation he heads, that was holding the so-called town hall durbars. Why the security agencies and the government allowed this man to travel round the country organizing forums purportedly related to the elections, with the ever present threat of politically-related violence and in an era of spreading global, highly unpredictable terrorists activities, is a puzzle.

Since the publication he oversees has bureaus in all regions of the country, he succeeded in promoting himself in it for weeks. The security agencies and Flagstaff House should find out how much per-diem and out-of-station allowances the managing director of this state corporation is paid when he travels outside Accra.

How many of such durbars were organised by ‘Quixote’ last year, and how much was he paid in total as result of those travels? Or is it the case that like me who wrote a weekly column non-stop for this newspaper for more than 20 years without ever getting paid a single pesewa for my creative work, he was also doing all that free of any charge to us?

He has found yet again another opportunity to travel around the country to organise his so-called town durbars. He plans to embark on a nationwide tour to organise those durbars in the next few weeks, ostensibly to campaign against galamsey. Will he be paid for the so-called anti-galamsey campaign tours?

Is it possible for us to have a tangible and scientifically verifiable determination of the impact of his 2016 nationwide town hall durbars on the elections, and what impact the planned nationwide galamsey durbars will add to the great gains already made in the government’s well-executed operation to halt illegal mining?

Clearly his obsession with self-publicity and exhibition is a plan to try and make him popular for a future ambition and making some money into the bargain while he is at it. In doing this, he is aware that a solo act would expose him to scrutiny and dangers, so he has tried to rope in others to make it look as though what he is doing is an organised national group effort.

When was the media “Stop Galamsey” organisation he is employing for his suspicious antics formed? Who came up with the idea? Who are members? Is it a registered organisation?

It is difficult for media colleagues and public institutions to decline collaboration with an organisation like the one he heads, so he has tried involving organisations like the Minerals Commission, the Ghana Institute of Surveyors and other organisations in his activities.

Red is a colour that attracts great attention. That is why it is used by protestors and as a safety sign to warn the public of potential dangers. By claiming to institute a “Red Friday against galamsey” last weekend and urging people to wear red garments, he tried to make his antics look like a national day. He later claimed people in some towns and some of his own staff, wore red garments making the red day against galamsey successful.

The best I can do is to try and raise a red flag myself. The rest of what needs to be done is up to the security agencies, the Board of Directors of his organisation and Flagstaff House.

‘Quixote’s’ suspicious antics represent nothing spectacular: Journalists like me have been campaigning against illegal mining with far more robust vigour for years, because our farmlands and the natural environment have indeed taken too much of a cruel mauling, leaving gaping pits, ugly excavations and deep tunnels all over the place, and our water sources and courses polluted by unauthorised small-scale mining.

We have also been investigating the possible link between illegal mining and some puzzling medical curiosities in Ghana which would have attracted keen scientific interest in the developed world, but in Ghana, were erroneously explained away with superstitious interpretations and flawed diagnosis. The scientists appeared to be doing the same thing.

Some of these diseases broke out on endemic scales at different times in communities at Adaklu-Anyigbe in the Volta Region, the Amansie-West District and Asante-Akyem North.

I am talking to two lawyers about the possibility of dragging ‘Kwame Quixote’ to court to get him to pay me money owed me for very tedious work done which the public has been witness to, and to reclaim my constitutional and democratic right (and that of that of every other citizen) to freedom of opinion and expression.

At the last count, I had eight {8} articles with the newspaper referred to above, which the paper has refused to print to date, reportedly on the orders of one Tetteh, who will be joined to the suit if the lawyers think I have a case against them!

As for this Tetteh bloke, what he has orchestrated against me (and there is a witness), reminds me of the words of Saint Paul when he was caught in similar circumstances: “Alexander, the coppersmith, did much evil to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works.” (2 Timothy 4: 14).