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Opinions of Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Columnist: K. Badu, UK

Pardon me, Sir, if it’s alright to legalise ‘Okada’, what about ‘prostitution and galamsey’?

File Photo of Okada riders File Photo of Okada riders

Please, don’t get me wrong, for I am not in any way seeking to justify the legalisation of the demonized prostitution and galamsey, far from it.

I must, however, confess that I cannot end my fury in condemnation over the NDC’s 2020 flagbearer former President Mahama’s bizarre electioneering promise of legalising the ‘Okada’ business in the unlikely event of winning the 2020 general elections.

Dearest reader, if you may recall, it was former President Mahama who judiciously brought in the law in 2012 to ban the perilous Okada business.

Suffice it to stress that despite the numerous protestations by the Okada riders, Mahama spurned their pleas and went ahead and ban the use of motor cycles for commercial use.

If anything at all, I would like to believe that the rationale behind the Okada ban was the extreme dangers associated with the business.

Of course, Mahama’s concern back then was in the right direction. The all-important question every well-meaning Ghanaian should be asking then is: why is Mahama going back on his word to legalise the hitherto dangerous Okada business?

Astonishingly, former President Mahama is on record to have said somewhat weirdly and anecdotally that the Okada has created more jobs than Akufo-Addo’s innovative Nation Builders Corp (NABCO), so it is about time the hitherto illegal business is legalised.

Tell me, dearest reader, if the legalisation of the Okada business is not a lazy approach to job creation, what is it then?

Some of us, as a matter of conviction, cannot be hoodwinked by manipulating geezers into believing that Okada can solve Ghana’s unemployment problems.

Well, if former President Mahama is thinking of legalising Okada as a viable means of creating more jobs for the jobless youth, then he might as well consider lifting the ban on galamsey and prostitution.

Indeed, there are millions of Ghanaian youth that have become jobless as a result of the ban on the illegal mining a few years ago. After all, ‘what is good for the goose is good for the gander.’

More so, there are thousands, if not millions of women who are regrettably indulging in the illegal prostitution.

So is Ex-President Mahama is saying there are more women in the illegal prostitution than the Akufo-Addo’s NABCO, and therefore it must be legalised as a means of creating more employment?

With all due respect, the legalisation of Okada is not the viable means of creating employment for the Ghanaian youth, the One District One Factory is.

Indeed, the Akufo-Addo’s Planting for Food and Jobs is more likely to provide decent and fulfilling livelihoods to the Ghanaian youth than the seemingly Okada business.

You may agree to disagree, but the fact remains that the restoration of Nurses and Teachers Allowances which Mahama deliberately cancelled in 2015 and only for Akufo-Addo to restore in 2017 will definitely result in motivation to transfer in the health and educational sectors.

If not out of political expediency, what else would motivate a politician to think that it is alright to legalise the ostensibly dangerous Okada business?

If you may recall, when the recalcitrant illegal miners were all over the place stealing our mineral resources, terrorising the indigenes and at the same time destroying the lands and water bodies and President Akufo-Addo decided to place a ban on their activities, no less a person than former President Mahama bizarrely came out to oppose the NPP government’s commendable efforts to curb the illegal activities (See: Stop chasing illegal miners with soldiers – Mahama to government;, 28/04/2018).

Ex-President Mahama was reported to have grouched somewhat plangently: “…it is true that if we don’t do something about it, it will destroy the environment. But we need to apply wisdom. Because we’ve chased young people involved in illegal small-scale mining with soldiers in the past in this country but it didn’t work.”

Former President Mahama was said to have shockingly pontificated: “But if we put a blanket ban and send soldiers after the young people that is not the way to go. As you stop illegal small-scale mining, at the same time you must put in place a livelihood package so that as you are displacing people from illegal mining, they have something to do…. But when there is nothing to do but you are just chasing them, shooting them, it is not the way to go.”

Deductively, Ex-President Mahama was suggesting that the security personnel should cease chasing armed robbers with guns and rather offer them alternative livelihoods. How bizarre?

In fact, there is an incontrovertible evidence of some galamseyers quitting their jobs and moving to the rural areas to embark on the illegal mining. A criminal shall remain so regardless.

It is, however, true that potential economic benefits (employment, tax revenues and development outcomes) can be derived from illegal mining in Ghana.

We cannot also deny the fact that illegal mining is a significant contributor to the economic and social well-being of many people and households in rural, remote, and poor communities in Ghana.

However, the negatives within the illegal mining outweigh the positives.

The negative effects include, among other things, environmental degradation, water pollution, the release of mercury and other toxic and hazardous wastes into the free environment, and unforeseen social tensions that could lead to civil unrest.

In sum, given the preponderance of the negatives over the positives in the illegal mining, Okada and prostitution, it is absolutely right for any serious, committed and forward-thinking leadership to place a ban on such activities.

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