The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stated that the government’s avowed fight to clamp down on illegal mining activities in the country is not informed by xenophobia but rather a national commitment to protect the integrity of the environment.
He said the war against galamsey was a battle Ghanaians must win noting that there was a powerful vested interest by faceless individuals who were encouraging the menace which must stop.
President Akufo-Addo who was speaking when he met the Media Coalition against Galamsey at the Flagstaff House last Friday, said the government recently found it necessary to engage the diplomatic community and other interest groups to seek their support to fight the menace collectively.
“We are not against Chinese or any other citizens but what we are all seeking is to protect the integrity of our environment to secure a better future for unborn generations,” the President submitted.
The media coalition which comprises the state-owned media, the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE), OccupyGhana, the Private Newspapers and Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) and other interest bodies is led by its convener, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, who are in a campaign to clamp down on galamsey in the country.
It has set out the objective to name, shame and push for prosecution of persons involved in the illegal mining activity and courting the support of the citizenry to join in the combat to end the galamsey menace.
Their call on the President was to inform him their mission as well as appraise him on progress made since the coalition was put together and seek presidential support in the campaign against galamsey.
Welcoming the coalition, President Akufo-Addo said the government would soon unveil a national plan against galamsey to be announced by the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng.
He indicated that the comprehensive plan detailed a well-coordinated strategy to ensure the end of galamsey in the country and urged Ghanaians to support the government to see the plan through to its logical conclusion.
Expressing appreciation to the coalition for mobilising the social conscience of the people, President Akufo-Addo said he was happy to see various interests groups put together to be part of the campaign which for him was a demonstration of how seriously the coalition had taken the menace.
“If we do not make a collective effort to stop it, this would not be a land to pass on to the next generation. Once you have started this campaign, I urge you to pursue it to its very end,” the President tasked the coalition.
He asked the coalition to see the campaign not as a spirit but a cross-country race which should involve all Ghanaians.
President Akufo-Addo underscored the need to create alternative source of livelihoods for illegal miners and to achieve that his administration would create a productive economy to create opportunities for all to be absorbed into channeling their energies to better use.
He expressed optimism that with a sustained campaign against galamsey destroyed lands would be reclaimed and polluted waters shall also again be restored to become a good source of drinking water.
The coalition has declared the last Friday every month as Red Friday at which every Ghanaian is expected to be adorned in red attire in solidarity with the fight against galamsey.
The next one falls on May 26, 2017 and in accordance with the tradition, the President assured the coalition that he would solidarise with them in the appropriate colour.
Earlier, Mr Ashigbey who is also the Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, commended the President for demonstrating political courage to fight the menace adding “it would stand you in good stead in our history.”
He said the media had been part of a leadership failure in bringing the galamsey issue to an end and that now was the time for the media to hold the leadership of the country accountable hence the formation of the coalition.
Mr Ashigbey pointed out that the coalition has set for itself certain key performing indicators to define the success of its campaign which he enumerated to include ending galamsey as soon as possible, the restoration of polluted water bodies, ensuring the provision of a sustainable alternative livelihood for illegal miners and naming, shaming and push for jail terms against persons involved in the practice.
Deploring the alleged involvement of various security officials in the galamsey practice, the media convener asked that the detailed plan to be announced by the government should be done timeously to monitor its success.
He told the President of plans by the coalition to hold town hall meetings at galamsey riddled communities including Kyebi and Akropong to educate the people against the practice and also meet with the Chief Justice.
Mr Ashigbey lauded the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Georgina Theodora Wood for setting up fourteen courts to deal with galamsey cases.