Ebo Quansah in Accra .
I do not have the history of spicing stories by telling stories. But I am compelled to begin this piece with a story told by one of my nephews. According to Nana Adu, a young man studying accountancy while working at Tema, the story is told of two young men whiling away the time by narrating details of their escapades with women. One told the friend that just before the he woke him up from his sleep, he was playing with a very nice woman in his dreams, and that the woman kept urging him to do what is normally expected of a man in such circumstances.
“I thought the woman was being too direct with her approaches, so I asked her to postpone her proposal until I am absolutely sure she meant every word of her utterances,” he said. The friend responded by asking the dreamer to go back to sleep and invite him to replace him when the woman re-appears with her proposal.
Without any provocation, the dreamer slapped his friend, accusing him of plotting to usurp his powers… What began as a thrilling game of verbal exploits, ended in a bruising battle, with both friends needing hospital treatment.
In a way, former President John Dramani Mahama is still in dreamland. With ‘Onaapo’, ‘John 3-16’, ‘Mahama De Bee,’ and many others patronising songs about his presidential exploits used by the then ruling party, the National Democratic Congress, to fight the 2016 elections ringing at various grounds during the party’s unity walks in the regional capitals recently, the immediate past head of state of this republic is aiming wild blows at the imagery enemy. He is especially aiming at the new occupant of the Jubilee House.
The other day Mr. John Mahama tagged the present occupant of Government House ‘super-incompetent,’ trying desperately to get that mud to stick on President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. In all probability, the mud has fallen off.
Last week, Mr. John Dramani Mahama sought to create the impression that the President and his men and women had denied employment to those degrading our forests and farmlands and polluting our rivers and other water bodies in the name of mining for gold. The charge raised a number of eye-brows, with many Ghanaians questioning the reasoning contour of the man who drove the economic fortunes of this country into the woods with very strange policies.
When Mr. John Peter Amenu, Minister of Lands and Mineral Resources, responded with a strong criticism of the former President’s intentions and described the immediate past head of state as a ‘con-man,’ the tag did a number of rounds on social media, indicating that a number of Ghanaians had bought into it. In all intents and purposes, the former President appeared to have goofed big time.
Galamsey is a sore topic in Ghana, where water bodies are being destroyed with wanton abandon and our forest cover and farmlands under degradation big time. The galamsey menace is something that ought not to be treated as a political game. But, it looks like officials of the NDC especially, in their desperation to comeback to power after the mess of the last decade, are trying rather desperately to give galamsey a political colour.
It is a shame, but galamsey has caused and continues to wreck havoc on this society. The irony is that the two political giants in national politics both have key figures neck-deep in the illegal game. When the NDC was in power, several earth-moving heavy equipment belonging to the New Patriotic Party Chairman in the Asahnti Region, Bernard Antwi-Boasiako, were publicly destroyed.
Yesterday, The Chronicle newspaper reported a front page story in which the paper alleges that chiefs and other opinion leaders of Manso Abudai in the Ashanti Region have physically prevented one Kwaku Abu, said to be the Constituency Chairman of the NPP, from encroaching on the Oda River Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region.
The Constituency Chairman is alleged to have got bulldozers, excavators and washing machines and was believed to be entering the forest reserve to engage in galamsey.
His explanation that he was going to reclaim lands destroyed by galamsey operations, when the forest reserve was still virgin, could not represent the truth in the minds of those who confronted him.
I will like to believe that the police would be invited to do the right thing in this regard. That is not only allegations of political links to galamsey. Rumours of political cover-ups, especially for Chinese and other foreign nationals caught in the illegal trade, would not go away.
As you read this piece, reports are rife in the regions that Operation Vanguard, the police-cum military task force put together to fight the galamsey menace, is being frustrated by top political gurus who are alleged to be behind galamsey operations throughout the country.
Is it not strange that more than one year after the fight against galamsey was officially launched, none of the real gurus behind the menace has been arrested? It is common knowledge that political and security heads in the various districts where galamsey is rife are those behind the operations. In the Manso Abubia experience, we are told that the party boss in the constituency has teamed up with the District Chief Executive, who is also the District Security boss.
This is a typical case for the Jubilee House. I am calling on the President to ask the two leaders to step aside while investigations are conducted into the matter. I heard President Akufo-Addo, loud and clear, declaring at his second encounter with the Ghanaian media last February, that he has put his political life on the line to cure the galamsey malady. Let the President walk his talk on this issue.
While we are at it, it is relevant to remind Ghanaians about the role the NDC played in escalating the galamsey menace in the Obuasi area especially. In the run-up to the 2016 vote, the NDC declared public its intention to win one million votes in the Ashanti Region. The party also stated clearly that it wanted to win the two constituency seats in the Obuasi Municipality, come rain or shine.
As part of its game plan, the government of the NDC decided, without any notice to AngoGold Ashanti especially, to disband a military garrison at Obuasi, which had been on duty for several years and was aimed to frustrate the activities of miscreants engaged in galamsey. On February 1, 2016, the NDC administration disbanded the garrison and dispatched all the soldiers to their various barracks.
The next day, February 2, more than 20,000 galamsey operators, some alleged to be foot soldiers of the then ruling party, descended on Obuasi. A number of these miscreants took over pits belonging to AngloGold Ashanti.
In the midst of the confusion, AngloGold Ashanti dispatched a team of its security and top personnel to tour these sites and make a report to the company.
Need I state that the trip turned out to be fatal. As some galamsey operators charged on this mission, and the vehicle the officers were using ran over Mr. John Owusu, AngloGold Communications Director, who died soon after admission at AngloGold Hospital at Obuasi.
As President of the Republic and leader of the NDC at the time, Mr. John Dramani Mahama cannot claim to be unaware of this tragic development. If the former President is blaming the current head of state for failing to guarantee jobs for galamsey operators in this country, I would like to submit that Mr. John Dramani Mahama is thinking more of the welfare of foot soldiers of the NDC, and not necessarily the welfare of the ordinary Ghanaian.
In all probability, the former President is alluding to an issue most Ghanaians might not be privileged to know.
Whatever it is, it is difficult to put Mr. Mahama’s other concern – that the sitting President has failed to complete projects started by his regime in any contest than the mussing of a guilty man.
Mr. Mahama must belong to a special breed of human species. But not many Ghanaians are in a hurry to forgot the brazen refusal by the Mills/Mahama oligarchy to work on the Teacher-Mante-Suhum-Apedwa stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway, bequeathed it by the Kufuor administration.
Remember deceased Prof. Atta-Mills’ famous declaration that any time he was on the Ofankor stretch of the Accra-Kumasi Highway, he had to bend down his head, and that he was always ashamed of the failure of his administration to do justice to that stretch of the national highway.
As you read this piece, the Suhum Bridge is still awaiting commissioning. It is all in the Mahama regime’s business of neglecting projects bequeathed by the previous administration. The news at the time was that while dust covered my alma mater, Suhum Secondary/ Technical School, for a decade, the contractor engaged on the project was dispatched to Damongo to construct an asphalt road leading to the middle of nowhere. That is Mr. Mahama’s idea of priority, I dare state.
When the invited guest mourns more than the bereaved, our elders would tell you, there must be an undertone. I do not believe succeeding administrations should abandon projects started by their predecessors. But the fact that Kufuor’s affordable houses are still covered in weeds and have lizards, frogs and other reptiles as occupants in place of human beings, Mr. John Dramani Mahama has a duty to minimise his criticisms of this administration.
I do believe that most Ghanaians have a fair idea of what the immediate past head of state calls development projects began by his administration. When cocoa roads sport asphalt in constituencies in Accra and other urban areas where the population is generally believed to be sympathetic to the ruling NDC, while cocoa growing areas cannot count of even footpaths to evacuate cocoa, the former President would do well to keep quiet.
The Akans, this country’s predominant tribe with nearly 50 percent of the population, would tell you, ‘If you are fond of fondling the sockets of the eyeballs of the dead, you are likely to be greeted by maggots.’
There is one thing too I know. Silence, they say, is golden.
I shall return!