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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Columnist: Kwaku Badu

Let’s give it a try: The NDC’s proposed nepotism law could well safeguard Ghana’s bauxite!

I listened with an intense interest and endless astonishment the NDC’s high sounding press conference on nepotism on Tuesday 5th November 2019.

Let me, however, stress that I will ignore the hypocritical aspect of the press conference and rather focus on the stern necessity of the proposed nepotism law.

Although the greater part of the press conference was destitute of honesty and integrity, the call for a nepotism law could well go a long way to protect Ghana’s natural resources such as bauxite from getting into the hands of family and friends.

But that said, I do not for a minute, subscribe to the seemingly isolated thinker’s view that highly qualified family members and friends of an elected president of the country must not and cannot hold positions in government.

It is true that more often than not, some friends and family members of an elected leader get carried away unnecessarily.

Take, for example, the actions and inactions of some family members of former President John Mahama, in particular, his brother and businessman, Ibrahim Mahama, have arguably been having deleterious effect on his brother’s chances of returning to the presidency.

In recent times, there have been a lot of allegations levelled against Ibrahim Mahama. But the most telling of such allegations is the 30 years bauxite mining lease which was issued by the Ghana Mineral Commission to Ibrahim Mahama and his partners on 29th December 2017, just a little over one week for his brother’s government to exit power.

In as much as some of us remain unrepentant sceptics of bilateral agreements in the area of natural resources, the NPP government’s leverage of bauxite is indeed a well-thought through agreement, notwithstanding the fact that Mahama is said to have presented over 58% of Ghana’s bauxite to his sibling on a silver platter. How pathetic?

Dearest reader, how do we advance as a nation when the siblings of an elected president, out of nepotism, would choose to scramble for the resources of the nation as if tomorrow will never come?

If you would recall, somewhere in 2017, the Economic Advisor to the Vice President (Dr Bawumia), Dr Gideon Boako, revealed that the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has no moral right cautioning the NPP administration against leveraging Ghana’s natural resources, specifically bauxite through its partnership with China, since the Mahama’s administration gave away over 58 percent of Ghana’s bauxite concession to a company affiliated to Ibrahim Mahama, the sibling of former President Mahama (See: NDC sold 58% of bauxite concession to Ibrahim Mahama – Gideon Boako; citifmonline.com, 29/06/2017).

Unsurprisingly, therefore, many discerning Ghanaians fretted thy souls with curses and condemnations. The vast majority of Ghanaians contended that such a venture was nepotistic and must not and cannot be allowed to proceed.

Consequently, the multi-billion cedi bauxite concession granted to the company allegedly affiliated to Mr Ibrahim Mahama was revoked in September 2017 after the former Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, had protested vehemently that the contract to Exton Cubic was invalid.

According to Mr. Amewu, “The Company was supposed to provide an Exploration Operating Permit for the year 2017, an Exploration Operating Plan to the Minerals Commission. None of the above was fulfilled (dailyguideafrica.com, 24/11/2017).”

Given the circumstances, it will be intellectually incoherent and preposterous for any trained-mind to assert somewhat fallaciously that it was rather Akufo-Addo, who without recourse to the law, capriciously prevented Exton Cubic from mining Ghana’s bauxite.

If anything at all, the competent court of jurisdiction had ruled that the granting of ‘3 mining leases in favour of Exton Cubic was in breach of the Constitution and section 12 of the Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703’

The Supreme Court of Ghana pointed out that the three mining leases previously held by Exton Cubic Group Limited were invalid (see: the newcrusadingguideonline.com/ghanaweb.com, 02/08/2019).

If we stroll down memory lane, the Exton Cubic’s alleged permit to undertake prospecting in the Nyinahini Forest Reserve was contested in somewhere August 2017 by the then Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Mr John-Peter Amewu.

If you would remember, the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, seized the equipment belonging to Exton Cubic, as Exton Cubic was alleged to be blissfully prospecting without a valid documentation at the Nyinahini bauxite concession.

Subsequently, the multi-billion cedi bauxite concession granted to Exton Cubic was revoked in September 2017 after the former Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, had contested vehemently that the contract to Exton Cubic was invalid.

Mr Amewu however argued poignantly that Exton Cubic did not have the necessary documentation to undertake mining (dailyguideafrica.com, 24/11/2017).”

Back then, the hierarchy of the Exton Cubic argued forcefully that the revocation of licenses and the confiscation of mining equipment were nothing but capricious, vexatious, and incommodious, as Exton Cubic was in possession of three required permits.

As it was expected, the leadership of Exton Cubic took the matter to the High Court of Ghana, and, on February 8, 2018, the High Court ruled that, the erstwhile Lands and Natural Resources Minister, John Peter Amewu, did not have power to revoke the mining licenses granted to Exton Cubic to prospect for bauxite.

Subsequently, the Attorney General, acting on behalf of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, submitted an ex-parte application to the Apex court, contending that ‘the lower court’s decision ‘undermines efficient administration of justice’.

The worthy minds of the Supreme Court of Ghana however made it clear that their verdict was predicated on the fact that the Exton Cubic knowingly or unknowingly failed to comply with mandatory provisions of the Minerals and Mining Act and article 268 of the Constitution of Ghana.

The eminent Supreme Court Judges, however, maintained that the granting of ‘3 mining leases in favour of Exton Cubic was in breach of the Constitution and section 12 of the Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703’.

“Every mineral in its natural state in, under or upon land in Ghana, rivers, streams, water-courses throughout the country, the exclusive economic zone and an area covered by the territorial sea or continental shelf is the property of the Republic and is vested in the President in trust for the people of Ghana” (Minerals Act 2006).

The credit must, however, be given to discerning Ghanaians for rightly voting out the insensitive Mahama government during the 7th December 2016 election and instead reposing absolute trust in the NPP government.

Let us, therefore, be true to ourselves, we cannot and must not allow individuals to roam carelessly on the corridors of power and take over Ghana’s scarce resources to the detriment of the poor and the disadvantaged Ghanaians.

Given the circumstances, I will earnestly venture to stress that in order for our governance system to be fair and equitable, all political appointments and contracts offers must be based on merits, but not through vague coloration, nepotism and cronyism.

In sum, I will beseech all well-meaning Ghanaians to support the NDC’s proposed nepotism law, which in my humble opinion, will go a long way to safeguard Ghana’s resources.

K. Badu, UK.

k.badu2011@gmail.com