The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has made a passionate appeal to the National House of Chiefs (NHC) to join hands with him to win the fight against illegal mining to save the environment and water bodies in the country.
He has reiterated his commitment to working hand-in-hand with chiefs, traditional rulers and all stakeholders in the fight against illegal mining, popularly called “galamsey.”
According to the President “it is obvious that, if we are to win the fight, you and I have to take the lead to collaborate closely to do so. That is why I am here today.”
The President who was addressing the House yesterday on the back of recent criticism of the governmentfor its inability to curb the illegal activities that are destroying water bodies and farming lands.
Nana Akufo-Addo noted 80 per cent of the lands in the country continued to be under the custody of Chiefs, whereas the remaining 20 per cent is held in trust by the President.
“What this means,” he said, “is that ultimately, the welfare of the state of the lands is the joint responsibility of chiefs and the President, although, by statute, the minerals in the soil belongs to the President in trust for the people.”
He observed that for centuries, Ghana had been a mining nation, ” but mining did not pose a threat to the health of our environment and water bodies,” stressing that “the rules that you put in place for mining ensured that the sanctity of the lands remained intact, and our water bodies remained unpolluted.”
However, the President noted that “tragically, in the modern era, that is no longer the case. And that is why I have come to you today to talk about how, together, we can repair this dramatic situation.”
President Akufo-Addo indicated that since he took office on January 7, 2017, he has made it a central feature of his presidency to lead in the efforts to rid the country of the menace of galamsey, with a firm commitment made in his inaugural speech on the matter.
“It has not been easy, it has not been popular, and we have not got the immediate results that I was looking for. Indeed, in the last elections of 2020, my stance on the issue cost my party significant losses in the mining communities. It turned out that my statement that I was putting my presidency on the line in the fight against galamsey was neither bombastic nor reckless. It was the simple truth,” he said.
He reiterated the stance of government that, “we are not against mining, but we cannot accept mining in a manner that risks destroying our country”.
Ghana, he said, had always been a mining nation because in the 15th century, when the first Europeans, the Portuguese, came to “our shores, they called the first European-influenced town Elmina, meaning ‘the mine’ because from their ships as they approached our shores, that is the activity they saw our people engaged in.”
The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, also expressed worry about the canker and said chiefs could not take responsibility for the resurgence of the menace when licences were issued by government without recourse to traditional authorities.
FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, KUMASI
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