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Opinions of Friday, 19 May 2017

Columnist: Abraham Frank Eshun

The war against galamsey is a battle Ghana must win

The media coalition against illegal mining has engrossed uncountable stakeholders – both internal and international – support for one important reason based on what Plato once said “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. It means that if our arable lands and water bodies are left in the hands of these local and foreign illegal miners to serve them as sources of employment as they claim, and neglect the negative impacts on our water, lands, forest and other natural resources, in future Ghana would have to depend on other countries for food and water.

Though the broad objectives of Ghana's foreign policy embrace friendly relations and cooperation with all countries irrespective of ideological considerations, on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, none of our neighboring countries will be comfortable if Ghana’s environment has been degraded to even affect other countries, that is why more countries are joining in this particular ‘politics’ so that they will also not end up being governed by these numerous activities of galamsey which has direct negative effects on our environments as Plato referred to as inferiors.

The Israeli ambassador to Ghana, H.E Ami Mehl has pledged that the ancient country of Israel is ready to help Ghana come out of the wreckage caused by the menace of galamsey. According to him, “coming from a country that for many decades suffered existential threats due to water shortages, I hope that Ghana does not find herself facing a water crisis in the future. I wish to state my unalloyed support to campaign against illegal mining and the fight to protect Ghana’s forests and water bodies. The State of Israel is fully behind Ghana in this fight, and is ready to support the nation recover from the environmental degradation”.

Neil Gaiman, an American writer (American Gods) once also said “There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous”.

I remember some threat messages I got recently from both foreign and local numbers threatening me for an article I wrote against galamsey in Ghanaian Times newspaper and Ghanaweb. They indicated that galamsey is a source of employment for them and therefore, we should not only allow the legal miners – which to them are foreigners – to take our properties and wealth away like what happened during our colonial era.

The messages also insulted me a lot and also denoted all the coalition of Ghanaian media against galamsey as hypocrites and such people also think they are doing the right thing by turning all our purified drinkable waters into undrinkable and posing more threat on our ecosystem as Neil Gaiman have indicated for selfish reasons.

I must also echo that yes the war against this menace that has been a national canker should at all cost win irrespective of even our political ideological differences.

Moreover, we are going to win the battle whereas continuing our good foreign policies with other countries as President Nana Addo has said “We are not against Chinese or any other citizen but what we are all seeking is to protect the integrity of our environment to secure a better future for unborn generations”.

Ghanaians must win this war at all cost and Ghana should also take good care of its workers by turning all indecent jobs to decent ones, taking pragmatic national steps to see to it that our gifted human resources are also not underutilized any more, and also fight to create immediate employment opportunity to both graduate and non- graduate citizens.

Ghanaians must win this war and the legal miners should also now be controlled by the government to protect our environment by also stopping degradation to our environment with negative health and other implications on our citizens simply because they are legitimately allowed to operate. They should also follow all the mining laws and processes in the state accordingly.

The legal mining companies should also critically expand their employment opportunities to citizens from the field of galamsey so that all that knowledge acquired can legally support the national development but not distract as it is happening today.

They should also respond to our societal needs by providing schools, good drinking water, electricity, clinics, roads, places of convenience, national institutions and others with higher percentages of their profit accrued from our minerals so that our natural resources would not benefit the companies alone and leave the indigenes in poor.

Further, Ghanaians must win the war against Galamsey whereas remaining united as one country, one people with one destiny to recover from our environmental degradation without blaming each other but take into consideration that, if all our water bodies and arable lands are degraded, it will definitely affect the entire population of our beloved country negatively but not to only specific people, that call for collective responsibility of all Ghanaians to end this national canker.

Therefore, apart from galamsey, Ghanaians should also desist from other activities that can degrade our environment in order for us to enjoy the peace God has given to us in addition to permanent habitable environment that can serve today and our future generation.

According to Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th American President “Here is your country, cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance”.

Ghana belongs to all of us and therefore we need not leave it to few people to distract our peace and habitation. We must win the fight against galamsey and other environmental degradation to support the nation to recover from all environmental degradation.